In MD Research Project (MDRP), completed during the 3rd and 4th year of the Doctor of Medicine (MD) course at the University of Melbourne, students have the opportunity to complete a research project in a field related to medicine. During this time students:
- explore an area of relevance to medicine in greater depth than is possible in the body of the curriculum.
- broaden their experience of health care and research, often in off-campus settings.
- learn the theory behind evidence and research, and experience it first hand and appreciate the challenges and limitations.
- have the opportunity to interact with researchers and better appreciate the background work and processes involved in the advancement of medicine.
- develop skills in the acquisition, evaluation and application of information (evidence) by undertaking in-depth studies in an area of their choice related to medicine.
The following departments offer student projects:
- Medical Education
- Obstetrics & Gynaecology
- Primary Care (General Practice)
What do students do during MD Research Project?
The primary purpose of MDRP is for students to obtain experience in conducting biomedical research. As part of this goal, the principal method of assessment is a journal style monograph. This subject is designed to:
- provide an introduction to the processes of research work in a field related to medicine, including critical appraisal of the literature.
- enable development of skills in the ways in which knowledge (evidence) should be assembled and evaluated to provide a scientific rationale for updating medical practice and treatment.
- develop skills in the use of simple statistical techniques when appraising health data.
- foster an understanding of the benefits of research and the value of each health professional contributing to the advancement of knowledge.
- encourage an understanding of the diversity and breadth of medicine.
- encourage the development of autonomy and independence in defining areas for study, locating relevant resources and evaluating information.
- enhance oral and written communication skills.
- encourage further learning in areas of relevance to medicine.
When do students undertake MD Research Project?
Students complete MDRP during the 3rd and 4th years of the MD course. MDRP is divided into two parts:
- MDRP1: this is undertaken during the 3rd year of the MD course. Students spend the first semester of 3rd year selecting a research project of interest; during the second semester, students complete a literature review, obtain ethics approval (where required) and become familiar with the requirements of their project.
- MDRP2: this is undertaken during the first semester of 4th year of the MD course, and this when students undertake and write up the results of their research project.
When and how do students select their project?
Students nominate a preferred research project during the first semester of 3rd year. A web-based database of available projects will be made available to students from early in first semester of 3rd year which will be continually updated during the semester.
What sort of research projects can students undertake?
Theoretically, students can complete any type of research project related to the discipline of medicine. However, it is important to remember that students must undertake a project that can be completed and written up within a 6-month period.
Therefore, 'green-field' or undefined pilot projects are generally considered unsuitable, as are those where ethics approval has not yet been obtained or is likely to prove difficult. The ideal MDRP project is one, or more, of the following:
- an 'add-on' to an existing project;
- utilises existing data or stored tissue samples;
- modest in size and scope;
- has clearly defined aims/objectives;
- has deliverable outcomes or end-point measurements;
- has established methods/protocols.
What is the assessment?
The assessment tasks for MDRP are divided into two parts:
- MDRP1: by the end of MDRP1, students are required to submit:
- a research question and project title (pass/fail assessment);
- a draft literature review (2000 words; pass/fail assessment) and
- a project plan (up to 1000 words; pass/fail assessment).
- MDRP2: by the end of MDRP2, students are required to submit:
- a literature review (5000 words; 40%);
- a journal-style monograph (4000 words; 30%; hurdle requirement);
- a poster suitable for presentation at the MD Student Conference (10%);
- three progress reports (10%) and
- a supervisor evaluation (10%).
I am interested in supervising a student. What do I need to do?
The first step is to decide if you have a suitable project. If you do, or wish to discuss the requirements of your project, your next move is to contact the MDRP Subject Coordinator.
I've already had students contact me about undertaking a project. What should I do?
If you have had a student contact you, please contact the MDRP Subject Coordinators. You may continue to discuss a project with a particular student, however, please do not formally commit to supervising a student at this stage. There is a formal project selection procedure which ALL students must undertake.
How do I offer students a project?
Any supervisor who wishes to offer a student a project, will be asked to provide a brief profile of themselves and a summary of the available project/s. This will then be uploaded to the database and made available for students to view.
Do I get a choice as to which students I supervise?
Yes. Once student preferences have closed, the MDRP Coordinators will send you a list of all the students who have nominated your project/s as either their first, second or third preference. You will then be asked to select which student/s you are happy to supervise. To help you select, you may ask students to supply additional information before the close of preferences (for example, you may ask students to provide a curriculum vitae or make a time to come and see you to discuss the requirements of the project).
Is there any research training provided?
The Melbourne Medical School will provide all students with core training modules in research design and methodology. Other training modules will be added as required.
My project needs ethics approval or an amendment. Who is responsible for submitting this?
It is a requirement of supervisors that they undertake primary responsibility for obtaining all ethics approval required for the conduct of the MDRP project and where necessary, seek advice from their local ethics committee. Where approval is required, but has not yet been sought, a supervisor may enlist the assistance of a student in preparing the appropriate ethics documentation; however, final completion and submission of required documentation, as well as communication with the local ethics committee, remains the responsibility of the supervisor.
If you have any questions not addressed above or require further information, please contact the MD Research Project Subject Coordinator at firstname.lastname@example.org.