Innovators often state that they learn a lot from their successes, but even more from their failures. Yet, who publishes about their failures? Which journals commonly report about failures? Who gets promoted or receives tenure in academic environments for their failures?
Hopefully, the Spencer S. Eccles Health Sciences Library (EHSL) at the University of Utah has created a solution, called e-channel. e-channel is an interactive platform designed to capture and disseminate the creative output of innovators in all disciplines, but particularly the health sciences. This eclectic hub offers a venue for innovators and researchers to share their results, receive recognition, and contribute to their scholarly disciplines, while also ensuring that others can build on the work reflected. While e-channel currently captures the knowledge generated at the University of Utah, we hope that e-channel will become a national resource and “the place” to go to find information about all kinds of innovative approaches in numerous fields, including education, healthcare, research and global health. Anyone can contribute content to e-channel; just contact Jean Shipman at firstname.lastname@example.org
e-channel came into being after talking with a number of innovators and researchers who were frustrated on several fronts. One, they’re often not academic community members who write and are awarded grants and thus, don’t have research to publish for academic credit. They do however, often invent devices or therapeutic games that become commercialized and thus, bring revenue to the respective university. However, very few promotion and tenure review committees within universities grant credit for innovator outputs in the same way researchers get credit for obtaining extramural funding and resulting journal publications.
Second, the time it takes to publish has also proved to be an impediment to innovators who are seeking rapid dissemination of their ideas. One entry on e-channel, “Waiting for the next shoe to drop” resulted from our pediatric department chair being limited to a 900-word editorial. He rewrote his editorial multiple times due to the delay in publication and the fast rate of change with health care reform. He also wanted a mechanism for starting a national conversation about health care reform in pediatric hospitals, and a multimedia way of communicating his concerns and igniting conversations. Viola, e-channel came to the rescue.
Now back to failures. Our conversations with innovators again highlighted the need to capture and share not only successful outcomes, but what didn’t work, what failed, why the failure occurred, and what was done to overcome the barriers encountered. Attending the VentureWell conferences highlighted the interest in failures as there was a session at the 2015 conference in Portland, Oregon that specifically resulted from previous conference attendees’ desires to communicate about their failures. These conference discussions along with our university-based discussions prompted us to create a “failure” program on e-channel. There is an interactive form (http://library.med.utah.edu/e-channel/failures/) that is intended to help document exercises in innovative thinking or inventing that did not lead to the anticipated successful outcome but nonetheless were vital as learning opportunities. Our hope is that innovators and researchers will get academic credit for reporting their failures as more and more universities are addressing the inclusion of social media and multi-media within their promotion and tenure criteria. Impact and reach are key to awarding academic prestige. Social media and multi-media platforms are offering new venues for the dissemination of valuable information, such as failures. So please, be bold, report your failure to e-channel today.
Want to learn more about e-channel – listen to the podcast.
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