Inter-institutional data-driven education research: consensus values, principles, and recommendations to guide the ethical sharing of administrative education data in the Canadian medical education research context




Background: Administrative data are generated when educating, licensing, and regulating future physicians, but these data are rarely used beyond their pre-specified purposes. The capacity necessary for sensitive and responsive oversight that supports the sharing of administrative medical education data across institutions for research purposes needs to be developed.

Method: A pan-Canadian consensus-building project was undertaken to develop agreement on the goals, benefits, risks, values, and principles that should underpin inter-institutional data-driven medical education research in Canada. A survey of key literature, consultations with various stakeholders, and five successive knowledge synthesis workshops informed this project. Propositions were developed, driving subsequent discussions until collective agreement was distilled.

Results: Consensus coalesced around six key principles: Establishing clear purposes, rationale, and methodology for inter-institutional data-driven research a priori; informed consent from data generators in education systems is non-negotiable; multi-institutional data sharing requires special governance; data governance should be guided by data sovereignty; data use should be guided by an identified set of shared values; and best practices in research data-management should be applied.

Conclusion: We recommend establishing a representative governance body, engaging a trusted data facility, and adherence to extant data management policies when sharing administrative medical education data for research purposes in Canada.


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Author Biographies

Lawrence Grierson, McMaster University

Lawrence Grierson is an Associate Professor, Department of Family Medicine, and Scientist, McMaster Education Research, Innovation, and Theory (MERIT), Faculty of Health Sciences, McMaster University, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada; ORCID:

Alice Cavanagh, McMaster University

Alice Cavanagh is an MD-PhD Candidate, Michael G. DeGroote School of Medicine, McMaster University and Health Policy PhD Program, Faculty of Health Sciences, McMaster University, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada; ORCID:

Alaa Youssef, Stanford School of Medicine

Alla Youssef is a Postdoctoral Fellow, Stanford Center for Artificial Intelligence in Medicine and Imaging, Department of Radiology, Stanford School of Medicine, Stanford, California, USA.

Rachelle Lee-Krueger, University of Ottawa

Rachelle Lee-Krueger is a PhD Candidate, Faculty of Education, University of Ottawa, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, and Education Consultant, Office of Continuing Medical Education & Professional Development, Cumming School of Medicine, University of Calgary, Calgary, Alberta, Canada; ORCID:

Kestrel McNeill, McMaster University

Kestrel McNeill is a PhD Student, Department of Health Research Methods, Evidence, and Impact, McMaster University, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada; ORCID:

Brenton Button, Northern Ontario School of Medicine

Brenton Button is a Postdoctoral Fellow, Northern Ontario School of Medicine University, Thunder Bay, Ontario, Canada and Assistant Professor, Faculty of Education, University of Winnipeg, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada; ORCID:

Kulamakan Kulasegaram, University of Toronto

Kulamakan Kulasegaram is an Associate Professor, Department of Community and Family Medicine, University of Toronto and Scientist at Wilson Centre, University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, Canada; ORCID:


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How to Cite

Grierson L, Cavanagh A, Youssef A, Lee-Krueger R, McNeill K, Button B, Kulasegaram K. Inter-institutional data-driven education research: consensus values, principles, and recommendations to guide the ethical sharing of administrative education data in the Canadian medical education research context. Can. Med. Ed. J [Internet]. 2023 Jun. 21 [cited 2024 Jun. 15];14(5):113-20. Available from:



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