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What do medical students understand by research and research skills identifying research opportunities within undergraduate projects

Lookup NU author(s): Catherine Emmerson


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Background: Undergraduate research exposure leads to increased recruitment into academic medicine, enhanced employability and improved postgraduate research productivity. Uptake of undergraduate research opportunities is reported to be disappointing, and little is known about how students perceive research. Aim: To investigate opportunities for undergraduate participation in research, recognition of such opportunities, and associated skills development. Method: A mixed method approach, incorporating student focus and study groups, and documentary analysis at five UK medical schools. Results: Undergraduates recognised the benefits of acquiring research skills, but identified practical difficulties and disadvantages of participating. Analysis of 905 projects in four main research skill areas - (1) research methods; (2) information gathering; (3) critical analysis and review; (4) data processing - indicated 52% of projects provided opportunities for students to develop one or more skills, only 13% offered development in all areas. In 17%, project descriptions provided insufficient information to determine opportunities. Supplied with information from a representative sample of projects (n=80), there was little consensus in identifying skills among students or between students and researchers. Consensus improved dramatically following guidance on how to identify skills. Conclusions: Undergraduates recognise the benefits of research experience but need a realistic understanding of the research process. Opportunities for research skill development may not be obvious. Undergraduates require training to recognise the skills required for research and enhanced transparency in potential project outcomes. © 2010 Informa Healthcare Ltd.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Murdoch-Eaton D, Drewery S, Elton S, Emmerson C, Marshall M, Smith J, Stark P, Whittle S

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Medical Teacher

Year: 2010

Volume: 32

Issue: 3

Pages: e152-e160

ISSN (print): 0142-159X

ISSN (electronic): 1466-187X

Publisher: Informa Healthcare


DOI: 10.3109/01421591003657493


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