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Does our research tool kit equip us to make generalisable claims about dental education?


David W. Chambers
University of the Pacific, School of Dentistry
2155 Webster Street
San Francisco, CA, USA
Tel: +1 415 929 6438


In this essay on the state of scholarship in dental education, I argue that we are best served by looking at the validity, generalisability and usefulness of claims rather than at the rigour of various research methods. All papers published in 2009 in the European Journal of Dental Education (a quarterly) and the Journal of Dental Education (published monthly), a quarterly journal of the Academy of Management, Learning & Education and the monthly American Journal of Orthodontics and Dentofacial Orthopedics were classified by the type of claim made, method by which evidence was collected and techniques of analysis. The dental education literature, compared with the two other journals, was largely focussed on surveys of opinion or particular practices and lacked scope in generalisability. The dental education literature was thin in use of randomisation, covariable analysis and theory-building.