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Student Research Forum

Leading up to Evidence Live 2016, we will be publishing a series of blog posts highlighting projects, initiatives and innovative ideas from future leaders in evidence based medicine.
Please read on for the first in the series from Ankit Raj, Kasturba Medical College, Manipal, India
If you are interested in submitting a blog post, please contact Stay tuned! 

SRF logoStudent Research Forum
Kasturba Medical College (KMC), located in Manipal in southern India, is one of the top medical schools of India and is famous for its international exposure and research encouragement. At KMC, a group of undergraduate medical students felt the need to create an organization that could motivate students to take up undergraduate research and assist them in conducting research. Thus, Cochrane Student Journal Club (CSJC), Manipal Chapter came into existence, which was later redesigned to form Student Research Forum (SRF).

The work of the SRF was divided into two interrelated modus operandi: Sessions and Workshops. Sessions were of around 1 hour long duration, of which, the first half an hour was given for a medical student to present his/her research paper in front of an audience of young medical students and teachers of the college. These sessions were presided over by an a faculty member with research experience, who commented on the study being presented thus providing valuable inputs to young researchers on the study and presentation quality.

The second part of the session was devoted to hands on short-workshop on fundamentals of research. Over the years, topics included research methodology, literature review, systematic review, ethics committee approval, proposal drafting and case reports. We also conducted various half-day or full-day workshops every month. These 3-4 hour workshops were foundation for teaching various advanced clinical research related topics, the most popular of which was “Animal Experimentation” which included methodology of handling animals during a clinical trial. We also conducted a full-day workshop on Literature Review under the guidance and aegis of QMed Knowledge Foundation.

Once in a year, the SRF organizes a national undergraduate research conference, CONVENTUS, which encompasses oral presentations, poster presentations, medical quiz, pre-conference workshops and a medical hackathon. The distinctive part of this conference is the organization of the entire conference and events by undergraduate medical students and the exclusive participation of undergraduate medical students, thus providing a robust platform for young researchers to present and connect with like-minded peers.

Other responsibilities of SRF included informing college students about upcoming national and international conferences, workshops and exchange programs, assisting students on paper presentations, drafting proposals and guiding research ethics committee submissions. We also initiated an innovative platform for students: ‘Ask SRF’, wherein they could ask a research question, however remotely, in an anonymous online form and we would post the query with respective explanation on our Facebook page.

As a member of this club for last 3 years and now the Joint Secretary, I have gained invaluable learning experience and skills, including indispensable experience organizing conferences, workshops and seminars. As a result, I am now well informed on basic fundamentals of clinical research like research methodologies, literature review, systematic review, evidence based medicine and clinical trials.

As part of our future agenda, we are working on establishing Student Research Forums in each medical schools in the country. In fact, KMC SRF inspired Manipal University to set up a Student Research Forum for the entire university with separate Student Research Forums in each of its constituent colleges from diverse fields like engineering, allied health sciences and business studies. We are also looking forward to forming prospective partnerships with national and international conferences, students associations and medical journals that would help in propagation of undergraduate research.

Ankit Raj
Kasturba Medical College, Manipal, India

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