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Who is responsible? An insight into the factors influencing the publication of undergraduate medical students’ research projects

Shaffi Ahmed Shaik, Khalid Suwayyid Alomar, Abdullah Ibrahim Almater, Fahad Abdullah Alshayhan, Majed Abdullah Al-Sheikh, Abdullah Mohammed Almansour, Abdullah Ali Alqarni, Ali Mohsin Al-Hazmi, Mohammad Irshad, Kamran Sattar, Tauseef Ahmad, Hamza Mohammad Abdulghani.


Background: Research influences the quality of health care as well as the committed evidence-based medicine by clinicians. Worldwide, undergraduate medical students conduct research and its recognized that their research helps them understand medicine and improve clinical skills furthermore, they are able to apply what they have learned.

Objective: To quantify the number of research publications of undergraduate research course projects and the factors affecting its publication.

Materials and Methods: This quantitative, observational, questionnaire-based, and cross-sectional study was conducted at the College of Medicine, King Saud University (KSU), during the academic year 2014-2015. The participants were 164 research group leaders of the course, including internship, 4th and 5th academic year students. A self-administered questionnaire was used to collect data. We analyzed the data using the SPSS version 21.0 (IBM Corporation, Armonk, NY, USA) statistical software. Karl Pearson’s Chi-square test and odds ratios (OR) were used in bivariate analysis and binary logistic regression in multivariate analysis.

Results: Out of 164 research groups, 161 (98.2%) had responded to the study. Among them, 36 (22.4%) had published their research projects. The publications of internship students (n = 49; 30.2%) and 5th year students (n = 53; 32.9%) were higher than 4th year students (P = 0.014). Furthermore, research groups with 5-7 members (n = 91; 56.5%) had published their projects more than the group with 2-4 members (P = 0.013). The higher publication was also associated with the supervisors’ high academic rank and attended extra research methodology courses skilled training. The improvement of curriculum vitae, supervisor support and skilled training were the motivating factors to publish their projects. Less number of students’ publications were due to lack of time, insufficient support from supervisors and supervisors’ academic ranks.

Conclusion: The results of this study also suggest for the manuscript writing skill training could be included in such academic course. Many students are lacking the sufficient research training; therefore, appropriate training could be included. Further, emphasis should be given by training department and academic supervisors to overcome the perceived barriers.

Key words: Undergraduate Research; Medical Students; Student Support; Medical Curriculum; Saudi Arabia

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