CAFM Educational Research Alliance (CERA)

Frequently Asked Questions About CERA Data

Who can access this database and perform secondary analysis on the data?
Any member of one of the CAFM organizations (ADFM, AFMRD, NAPCRG, STFM) can access the CERA clearinghouse and the data contained in it. All you need is your username and password. If you do not remember these, contact

How do I perform secondary analysis on this data?
The best way to begin a secondary analysis is to look at the questions that were asked in any one of the surveys. Then, develop an interesting research question that could be answered by combining two or more of the questions in a manner that is different than the original authors intended. Download the Excel spreadsheet and perform any data cleaning that is necessary. It is recommended you keep clear notes on any data manipulation you perform so that you can recreate it later. Perform your statistical analysis and interpret the results. If those results would be of interest to other medical educators, present your findings at a medical conference or publish them in the peer-reviewed medical literature.

Can I combine questions from two different surveys?
Because the data has been kept anonymous, it is not possible to combine the results of two surveys together. When questions have been repeated in multiple surveys, it is possible to look at a trend over time. For instance, the percentage of program directors answering the surveys that are female.

Can I get the identification of the respondents?
The CERA surveys are done anonymously so it is not possible to get the identification of the respondents.

How do I know if someone else has already started working on my question?
CERA does not require a CAFM member who wants to access the data clearinghouse to submit their research hypothesis or to notify CERA when they download data. Therefore, there is no guaranteed method to know whether someone else has thought of asking your exact question. CERA strongly recommends that you do a thorough literature search prior to starting your project to make sure your question has not already been asked and answered.

Which IRB is the IRB of record for the original study?
All CERA surveys to date have been approved through the AAFP Institutional Review Board.

Do I need to get IRB permission before performing secondary data analysis?
This will vary by institution. CERA strongly recommends that you check with your local IRB to determine what, if any, IRB application will be required for your project.

What were the methods of the original study?
All CERA surveys to date have used very similar methods, which have been published. The most efficient way to cite the original methods is to include the following among your citations:
Seehusen DA, Mainous AG 3rd, Chessman AW. Creating a Centralized Infrastructure to Facilitate Medical Education Research. Ann Fam Med. 2018 May;16(3):257-260. doi: 10.1370/afm.2228. PMID:29760031

Who can I contact if I have questions about CERA, the clearinghouse, or secondary analysis of this data?
Contact Heather Paladine, MD, at

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