Developing a Virtual Interdisciplinary Research Community in Clinical Education: Enticing People to the “Tea-Room”


  • Russell Butson University of Otago
  • Paul Hendrick University of Otago
  • Martin Kidd Central Queensland University - Bundaberg
  • Martin Brannstrom University of Umeå
  • Martin Hedberg University of Umeå



Virtual communities of practice, Virtual research environments, Clinical education research, Research cultures, Interprofessional research


Background: Many interdisciplinary collaborative research programs in the health sector are adopting the community of practice concept within virtual environments. This study explores the factors that affect the members of a geographically dispersed group of health professionals in their attempt to create an interprofessional Virtual Community of Practice (VCoP) from which to promote clinical education research.

Method & Findings: A survey was used to determine participants’ degree of computer competency. System logs recorded members’ access details and site activity. Member perceptions and beliefs were established using focus groups. While members stated they were enthusiastic about the VCoP, the primary use was viewing. Their online behaviour indicated that on average it took six visits to generate a post. This suggests a stronger focus on viewing (consumption of) information than on contributing (construction of) information.

Conclusions: We believe it is crucial for members to contribute during the initial phase of any pre-structured VCoP in order to overcome the consumption-construction dilemma. It is during this initial phase that members will decide on the community’s value. If the community cannot offer added value, members who engage are likely to consume for a time and then leave.






Articles: Empirical Research