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We thank Belinda WC Ommering et al. for their insightful and original research regarding how medical students motivation translates into research involvement. Whilst the article focusses on motivation of medical students wanting to be involved in research and the resultant degree of participation, we believe it is important to remark on the extrinsic barriers that medical students may face in obtaining research experience despite being highly motivated and the effect this can have on their motivation to participate in research. We are sharing our thoughts on this article from the point of view of two final year medical students involved in undergraduate research. Our response includes results from a short live survey carried out at a student research conference we held locally.
Previous studies indicate that students encounter personal and organisational barriers to research such as inadequate skill or training, limited access to information and unsupportive or unmotivated supervisors1 2. Students reported that a lack of proper training in understanding and writing papers, and difficulty finding an encouraging supervisor were two of the main barriers to conducting research as an undergraduate3. These students seemed to be motivated more by extrinsic factors, as 66.7% reported that the main reason they published their research was to improve their curriculum vitae3.
During the student research conference we held, students were provided with a live questionnair...
During the student research conference we held, students were provided with a live questionnaire through Socrative software on their attitudes, motivations and perceived barriers to research. 19 participants responded to the white space question ‘What have been the most significant barriers to gaining research experience?’. Responses were grouped into recurring themes and represented in Table 1.
Table 1: What have been the most significant barriers to gaining research experience? Reasons provided by medical students.
Barriers to research as reported by students Number of students
Lack of supervisor support 9
Lack of institutional support 4
Time factors 3
Lack of research opportunity 3
From the results of our survey we determined that there were several key extrinsic factors that limit students participation in research. Particularly, lack of supervisor support was identified as a key challenge to students, which we particularly identify with as students at a centre where a lower volume of research is conducted. The identified barriers are consistent with current literature that aims to address these challenges4. Some studies have shown that medical schools providing extrinsic resources to enable research participation fosters greater research productivity5 6and medical student research programmes that equip students for academic careers can motivate them to pursue academia in the future7. Further work could involve determining whether students with more intrinsic motivation towards research are better able to overcome these barriers compared to students motivated by extrinsic factors.
1. Dadipoor S, Ramezankhani A, Aghamolaei T, Safari-moradabadi A. Barriers to research activities as perceived by medical university students : A cross-sectional study. 2019:8-14.
2. Vallabhajosyula S, Shetty RS, Nair S. Knowledge , Attitude and Practice towards Medical Research among Students of a Medical College in Southern India Knowledge , Attitude and Practice towards Medical Research among Students of a Medical College in Southern India. 2014;(January). doi:10.5958/2231-6728.2014.00893.2
3. Marwan Y, Al-Halabi B, Hasan M, Alkhadhari S. Extracurricular research activities among senior medical students in Kuwait: experiences, attitudes, and barriers. Adv Med Educ Pract. 2014:95. doi:10.2147/AMEP.S61413
4. Zemlo TR, Garrison HH, Partridge NC, Ley TJ. The Physician-Scientist : Career Issues and Challenges at the Year 2000. 2000.
5. Dorrance KA, Denton GD, Proemba J, et al. An internal medicine interest group research program can improve scholarly productivity of medical students and foster mentoring relationships with internists. Teach Learn Med. 2008;20(2):163-167. doi:10.1080/10401330801991857
6. Schexnayder S, Starring H, Fury M, Mora A, Leonardi C, Dasa V. The formation of a medical student research committee and its impact on involvement in departmental research. Med Educ Online. 2018;23(1):1424449. doi:10.1080/10872981.2018.1424449
7. Hunskaar S, Breivik J, Siebke M, Tømmers K, Figenschau K, Hansen JB. Evaluation of the medical student research programme in Norwegian medical schools. A survey of students and supervisors. BMC Med Educ. 2009;9(1). doi:10.1186/1472-6920-9-43