gms | German Medical Science

GMS Journal for Medical Education

Gesellschaft für Medizinische Ausbildung (GMA)

ISSN 2366-5017

The GMA Journal for Medical Education – Recent Achievements and Future Goals

editorial medicine

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  • corresponding author Götz Fabry - Albert-Ludwigs-Universität, Medizinische Fakultät, Abteilung für Medizinische Soziologie, Freiburg, Deutschland; GMS Zeitschrift für Medizinische Ausbildung, stellv. Schriftleiter, Erlangen, Deutschland
  • corresponding author Martin R. Fischer - Chair for Medical Education, Munich University Hospital, Ludwig-Maximilians-University, Munich, Germany; Gesellschaft für Medizinische Ausbildung (GMA), chairman, committee's offices, Erlangen, Germany

GMS Z Med Ausbild 2012;29(4):Doc60

doi: 10.3205/zma000830, urn:nbn:de:0183-zma0008308

This is the English version of the article.
The German version can be found at:

Received: August 4, 2012
Revised: August 6, 2012
Accepted: August 6, 2012
Published: August 8, 2012

© 2012 Fabry et al.
This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License ( You are free: to Share – to copy, distribute and transmit the work, provided the original author and source are credited.


The GMS Zeitschrift für Medizinische Ausbildung (ZMA) – Journal for Medical Education is the publishing body of the Gesellschaft für Medizinische Ausbildung (GMA) ( GMA is also the editor and owner of the journal’s title. ZMA is published in the open access portal German Medical Science (GMS). GMS is the interdisciplinary portal of the Association of Scientific Medical Societies (AWMF). Currently the journal is published four times per annum – under our new editorship since spring 2010. What have been our achievements with ZMA so far? What tasks did we set for ourselves for the further development of ZMA? First of all, we want to thank the 21 editors, 259 active reviewers and all those who offer their articles for publication to ZMA. In the future we want to thank all reviewers personally for their work by listing their names in the appendix of each year’s last edition.

Recently the ZMA has greatly developed. Special attention must be made to its bilingualism in German and English since 2010 and the inclusion in the publicly available database of the American National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) MEDLINE (Medical Literature Analysis and Retrieval System Online) and PubMed Central (see also in August 2011. These are important prerequisites for a stronger international visibility, which makes the journal at the same time even more attractive for authors.

There is a gratifying increase in the number and quality of original papers published in ZMA in the recent years, which can be seen as an expression of the dynamic development of medical education research activities in the German-speaking area. It may seem to be self-evident, but the detailed reference to existing works in medical education research can be a challenge insofar, as it is not always easy to find appropriate literature [10], [11]. Especially so when the articles had been published in journals which are not covered in the medical data banks. The reflection of and explicit reference to theoretical and conceptual presuppositions underlying a piece of work is equally difficult [2], and often requires knowledge in cognitive and educational psychology. It is the explicit reference to theories and constructs that a scientific discipline benefits from in the long term, because it is the only way to put integrate empirical findings into a coherent whole. Thus, both aspects suggest the cooperation between scientists with professional expertise in the medical as well as in medical didactics area, especially with educationalists and educational and cognitive psychologists. This kind of cooperation is also desirable regarding methodological issues, as projects in medical education research are challenging, since they often require a different approach than clinical or natural scientific research question [12].

Project reports are important elements of ZMA, in order to develop in the field of science, to stimulate the emulation of good ideas and so illustrate and promote the dynamic development in the faculties in a cross-site manner. In order to allow these goals project reports should be as specific as possible on the implementation of the respective project, but also state information about the curricular framework and local conditions. The following key questions can be helpful: What kind of problem, challenge, or demand was addressed with the project? What has been done exactly and how has it been done? What kind of results, findings, and further questions arise? Referring to existing literature and conceptual preliminary work is important also in project reports, in order to develop an evidence based education.

So far reviews as an article category have not played an important role in ZMA, but are very important both for the perception of the journal, and for the impact factor. The fact that the field of medical education research is becoming increasingly complex stresses their importance as they help in systematically pointing out gaps in research and help avoid unnecessary repetition of already answered research questions. There is in fact an intensive discussion going on regarding challenges and issues related to different forms of reviews (e.g. systematic vs. critical and narrative reviews or meta-analyses) [7], [8], [4]. ZMA should take advantage of the possibilities and opportunities of reviews in the future. We therefore encourage the submission of reviews and will systematically invite authors from similar fields of research to publish their reviews in ZMA.

One of the main goals of the journal is to obtain an impact factor. The impact factor is not a direct measure of the quality of the articles published, particularly because it does not distinguish between different categories of articles like e.g. original works and commentaries. But it is crucial for the question of how a journal is perceived. The frequency with which articles of a journal have been cited is vital for the impact factor. Reaching the impact factor is not an end in itself, nonetheless a stronger international perception of the ZMA is certainly in the interest of all involved. A deciding factor for this is primarily the quality of articles published, which must be interesting and relevant to readers. ZMA has already developed well in recent years. By consolidating the efforts of authors, editors, reviewers and the editorial office it is certainly possible as it is necessary to further improve the quality of publications. Experience in manuscript review and international discussions on the quality of research in medical education allow the identification of some aspects vital for the improvement of article quality for most major article types. We want to recommend these to all authors (see [5], [6], [3]). But editors and reviewers are also challenged: We want to offer workshops for reviewers in order to systematically improve the standards and quality of manuscript reviews. In the medium term, we hope for an increasing article quality through an increased rejection rate and the ability to publish six editions per year.

The ZMA will continue its main focus in the German-speaking area. This is important for several reasons. Although many aspects of medical education are discussed in a similar way internationally, there are many special characteristics in German-speaking areas compared to the English-speaking countries, which are traditionally well represented in the discussion, e.g. medical school admissions, length of the curriculum, the curriculum generally and regarding labor markets and healthcare systems. Furthermore, there are important developments taking place here, which will give impulses over the next years for various research projects in teaching and learning. This includes the development of National Competency-based Catalogues of Learning Objectives for medicine and dentistry and by this the further development of the medical and dental education. The ongoing academization of other health professions, from which new forms of scientific or practical cooperation will result, adds to the dynamics in the field of medical education [9], [13]. Finally, there is a growing interest in issues concerning teaching in the whole academic sector, in part connected to the German Universities Excellence Initiative (primarily promoting research). This has induced different programs – especially Teaching Quality Pact – which help to promote the scientific development specifically of teaching, and teachers. Therefore, ZMA continues to be important in representing the whole spectrum of those activities in medical education and its neighboring fields within the German-speaking area and ensure the balance between “services” – the more practice related aspects of the daily teaching routine – and “science” – theory-driven research questions in the proper sense [1]. Our wish is to regularly publish common editions with journals from European partner associations, like it has already happened successfully with the Tijdschrift voor Medisch Onderwijs (TMO, Netherlands Journal of Medical Education). Furthermore we will continue the ZMA tradition of special issues to present trans-sectoral issues like e.g. assessment in a reader-friendly way as well as represent scientific developments from the different points of view of the disciplines and professions within GMA.

The editorship considers the ZMA moving in the right direction. We would like to express our gratitide to everyone who has contributed to this success and we are looking forward to collaborate with everyone who supports the ZMA and the GMA.

Competing interests

The authors declare that they have no competing interests.


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