One size does NOT fit most!

By: Robin M. Zavod, PhD, FAPhA

This post is part of an Anniversary Series celebrating the 10-year anniversary of Currents in Pharmacy Teaching and Learning (CPTL) and the two-year anniversary of CPTL Pulses.  In this Series, editorial board members are describing and celebrating milestones in our development and advances in support of publishing in pharmacy education.

For those at either end of the body size continuum, clothing labeling “one size fits all/most” is absolutely maddening. Not surprisingly these labels don’t “fit” in other situations, including publishing.

A decade ago, few venues existed for pharmacy educators to publish education-focused scholarship, and monthly publishing was limited. Adding to this frustration, a limited number of manuscript categories were available, and dissemination of education-based innovation/invention outside of traditional educational research was sparse. The perfect storm erupted as our scholars watched publishing houses merge and titles were discontinued.

Currents in Pharmacy Teaching and Learning (CPTL) launched in July 2008, with the first issue published in January 2009. Although initial manuscript categories mirrored the restricted template used by similarly focused journals, the CPTL Editorial Board (“Board”) quickly acknowledged the Academy’s expanded publishing needs. Supported by the literature1,2, we began a journey to provide a platform for:

  • Emerging areas of scholarly interest
  • Curricular changes in response to the changing profession and accreditation standards
  • Faculty’s growing educational needs

Emerging areas of scholarly interest:

In 1990, Ernest Boyer published “Scholarship Reconsidered: Priorities of the Professoriate”, describing four components of scholarship – discovery, integration, application, and scholarship of teaching.3 With these scholarly doors opened, educators recognized that innovation in didactic and experiential settings could now be foundational for lines of inquiry to strengthen the Academy’s scholarship. With an eye on supporting these educators via the journal’s author education efforts, the Methodology Matters (MM) manuscript category was designed to showcase common methodologies, along with pointed recommendations and resources. In addition, the author support team became peer coaches as the need for individualized support with statistics, data analysis, and technical copy editing became more apparent. Most importantly, Board innovation produced the Experiences in Teaching and Learning (short communication) and Teaching and Learning Matters (case report) categories to support early and mature SoTL respectively.

School/College curricular changes:

With changes in the profession and accreditation requirements, curricular content and delivery has become significantly more diverse and dynamic. As the need for soft skills and team-readiness became priorities for employers and accreditors, faculty expertise was stretched and additional innovation surfaced as Standards 3, 4, and 11 became expectations.4 Definitions of “leadership” and “interprofessional education” emerged, and scholars in these fields looked hard at how to define scholarship within these realms. The Board acknowledged the fledgling status of new courses, co-curricular plans, and the need for a home for highlighting pilot work and sharing experiences. The unique requirements for the Leadership Education and Development Reports (LEADeR) and Interprofessional Education (IPE) Reports, both short communication categories, were developed to permit dissemination of curricular exploration using standardized terminology and expectations.

With many schools/colleges using continuous quality improvement processes in curricular revisions, a Quality Improvement Case Report manuscript category was designed to highlight related scholarship. Finally, as students’ skills, knowledge, values, and behaviors were assessed, academicians identified trends and related concerns. The Commentary category was amended to include calls for action and a Letter to the Editor category was created to promote continued discussion of ongoing issues in pharmacy education.

Educational needs of the faculty:

Bumps and bruises arise as faculty initially navigate through SoTL projects and educational research. While most manuscripts advance that which has been published, the Board agreed there was educational value in reporting less successful attempts. Our Teachable Moments Matter commentaries, written by our MM team, serves to educate the Academy when a non-fatal hiccup is identified. Avoiding the hiccup altogether and recovery strategies are the foci of these manuscripts. When projects go side-ways and are not recoverable, it is equally important to share these experiences. Our Live and Learn Commentary category, written by authors with assistance from the MM team, highlights intractable flaw(s) and why resurrection was not an option.

Though integral to the SoTL process, there was little literature guidance as to what constituted a quality peer review or the qualities of a good peer reviewer. Via the Board’s research team, a Delphi study was conducted and published.5 Findings from this study informed the design of our Peer Reviewer Education program. To date we have had >400 individuals work through at least one program component, with Version 2.0 plans underway.

With the accelerated graying of the academy, the Board identified that supporting reflective practice via scholarly dissemination could facilitate exploration of the journeys of others. The Wisdom of Experience category emerged as a scholarly mechanism for seasoned faculty to share their wisdom.

Since “one size fits all” does not fit everyone’s needs, journal evolution will be necessary to create the appropriate “fit” for academy innovation. Want to know a bit more? Upcoming posts from our Board teams will dive a bit deeper and describe their purpose and evolution over the last decade. Contact Robin Zavod for additional information.

Acknowledgements: Many thanks to the talented and dedicated CPTL Editorial Board members from 2008 to present.


  1. Glassick CE, Huber MR, Maeroff GI. Scholarship Assessed: Evaluation of the Professoriate; San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass, 1997.
  2. Menges RJ, Weimer M. “Teaching on Solid Ground: Using Scholarship to Improve Practice; 1996; San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass, 1996.
  3. Boyer EL. “Scholarship Reconsidered: Priorities of the Professoriate”, Princeton, NJ, Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, 1990.
  4. Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education. Accreditation Standards and Key Elements for the Professional Program in Pharmacy Leading to the Doctor of Pharmacy Degree (“Standards 2016”). Published February 2015. Accessed 20 August 2019.
  5. Janke KK, Bzowyckyj AS, Traynor AP. Editor’s Perspectives on Enhancing Manuscript Quality and Editorial Decisions Through Peer Review and Reviewer Development. Am J Pharm Educ 2017;81(4):Article 73.

Robin M. Zavod is a Professor of Pharmaceutical Sciences at Midwestern University Chicago College of Pharmacy. Her educational scholarship interests include student self-efficacy, strategies to improve retention, and application of foundational science principles. In her free time, Robin enjoys letterboxing and escape rooms.

Pulses is a scholarly blog supported by Currents in Pharmacy Teaching & Learning

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