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Scholarship and knowledge work

Are GPs scholars? What do we mean when we say scholarship? Could it be that in fact scholarship is something you are already doing?
Boyer's model of scholarship, showing discovery, integration, application and teaching

A model of scholarship called Boyer’s model was developed in the 1990s1. In this article we can consider how the model and concept of scholarship applies to primary care clinicians.

What is scholarship? How does this apply to working clinicians?

Scholarship is a ‘lifelong commitment to thinking, questioning, and pursuing answers2’. Knowledge is not just something that is produced by researchers involved in basic science research and disseminated among clinicians by means of journals and guidelines. We now know that knowledge production and use is a dynamic interactive process3. Clinical scholarship involves questioning assumptions, being curious, seeking to discover new knowledge and to share this knowledge with others.

Below we consider some of the ways general practice scholarship can fit into this model.

Scholarship of discovery: what do we know?

Traditionally research has been seen to be the main way knowledge is discovered. Most GPs are not research active but there are avenues to learn more about primary care research for interested clinicians. Simply finding a knowledge gap and asking questions is the first step.

Scholarship of integration: what does this mean?

Knowledge in isolation is meaningless. It must be integrated into current knowledge frameworks. This is seldom as straightforward as it seems. Discussion, reflection and a willingness to be creative is needed.

Scholarship of application: how can I change my practice?

We know that changing practice is not straightforward. How do we disseminate new knowledge within a team and change processes based on it?

Scholarship of teaching: how do I explain this knowledge to others?

Many GPs are involved in teaching of undergraduate students, GP trainees or other healthcare professionals. Thinking about scholarship as a dynamic interactive cycle we understand that when teaching we not only disseminate our knowledge to others but generate new knowledge, questions and ideas.

In our next video, we will look at one of the ways researchers have described the process of knowledge use and generation.


  1. Boyer, E. L. (1996). From Scholarship Reconsidered to Scholarship Assessed. Quest, 48(2), 129–139.
  2. Pan, Y., Xu, Y. (Calvin), Wang, X., Zhang, C., Ling, H., & Lin, J. (2015). Integrating social networking support for dyadic knowledge exchange: A study in a virtual community of practice. Information & Management, 52(1), 61–70.
  3. Glassick, C. E., & SCHOLARSHIP, G. E. T. H. E. C. O. F. A. S. T. F. O. N. (2000). Boyer’s Expanded Definitions of Scholarship, the Standards for Assessing Scholarship, and the Elusiveness of the Scholarship of Teaching. Academic Medicine, 75(9). Retrieved from,_the.7.aspx
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