Our Plan

In a globalized world, the role of research in an academic institution is integral to its educational and developmental growth, and it is imperative to have knowledge-driven growth based on innovation. The quality of research work directly translates to the quality of teaching and learning in the classroom, thereby benefiting the students, the society and the country. The promotion of research in a diverse country like the UAE will help the nation evolve as a knowledge reservoir in the international arena.

Ever since its inception in 2006, RAK Medical & Health Sciences University has emphasized the important role that research plays in the development of its students, which is most evident by its successful annual Students Scientific Conference approaching its tenth edition.

The overarching aim of this project is to capitalize on the tremendous potential of RAKMHSU faculty, students and facilities, by building on a very solid foundation in order to take research to the next step.

Objectives

The Student Council’s Committee on Science & Technology is working this year on boosting published research output of the university in general, and the medical, dental and pharmacy colleges specifically.

In order to achieve that, the Committee on Science & Technology has identified three main targets to be achieved by the end of this academic year:

  1. Streamlining, improving and clarifying the research process
  2. Providing clear and meaningful incentives
  3. Increasing the annual publication output

Project Scope

To develop a robust, effective and financially feasible process that gets students from the point of not being aware of research to being published authors. In order to achieve this, we intend to work methodically to improve the current pathway through which an undergraduate student moves in order to achieve in the field of research.

We are placing ourselves at the beginning of any student’s research journey, looking out for all the obstacles and fixing them as we go. This will allow us to eliminate as much friction from the journey as possible, and then helping the researchers to take the last step that is publishing their findings.

1. Awareness & Education

Our data has showed that most students in all colleges only realize that they want to do research in the latter years of their program. The goal of this step is to get a head start on that by introducing students to research much earlier on, and then injecting the pursuit of research into the culture and daily conversations of RAKMHSU’s students.

A) Introducing Students of All Colleges to The Concept of Research, and Mainly Why They Should Do It.

As mentioned above, students are not aware of the importance of research and the amount of time it takes until the latter years of their time at RAKMHSU.

This step intends to introduce students earlier on to the idea of research by implementing the following measures:

  • The Science & Technology Committee will reach out to junior students (year one and two) of each college and hold a discussion about the multiple reasons why they should participate in research projects.
  • Pushing for the inclusion of a class with the same objectives in the first week of all programs.

B) Providing Interested Students with Peer-To-Peer Classes on How to Plan and Write A Research Paper.

The Academic Committee in the RAKMHSU Student Council already holds peer-to-peer sessions for different subjects. This program will be expanded to include such classes on research methodology, taught by students who have already gone through the research process.

c) The Update: A Monthly Newsletter Shared with Students That Summarizes Three of The Latest Advances in Medical Research.

We firmly believe that in order to produce good and relevant research, you need to be exposed to it first. Currently, there are no programs in the university that expose students to the latest advances in medical research. Subsequently, only the students who are extremely interested in medical research and those who opt to attend conferences are somewhat aware of such research.

The Update is a monthly newsletter on recent advancements in medical sciences that is intended to fill this gap in exposure. It is presented in “a curated and convenient package”, which is achieved by looking for three pieces of medical news and research that are interesting and not too complex, summarizing them into a few bullet points and presenting them in an appealing format.

While it may seem too simplistic, especially when compared to a journal club of sorts, our solution is based on the idea that looking for such information and being interested in it is learned behavior. This way of presenting research is essentially the “training wheels” of being up to date on research and being interested in it. The university experience is a learning experience, after all.

d) An Awareness Campaign Through Posters, Pamphlets and Social Media.

The awareness campaign has two benefits:

1- keeping the students aware of the committee’s efforts, even peripherally, and

2- pushing positive and motivating messages about research and the scientific method.

As mentioned above, we will aim to achieve this by strategically placing aesthetically-pleasing posters about research and its merits around the halls of the university, and positive videos about research on social media.

2. Providing Incentives

Our data has showed that most students in all colleges only realize that they want to do research in the latter years of their program. The goal of this step is to get a head start on that by introducing students to research much earlier on, and then injecting the pursuit of research into the culture and daily conversations of RAKMHSU’s students.

A) Providing Clear and Meaningful Incentives for Research

An internal motive is stronger than any and providing students with positive ideas about research and the career benefits of doing it at the undergraduate level.

B) Promising to Pay Publication Fees

We worked with the university to make it guaranteed if any paper gets accepted by a journal for publication, the university will reimburse them the publication fees. Please make sure you check with your supervisor for your particular paper.

RAKMHSU policy now says:

“Since the publication will be a joint publication with the faculty, the publication cost will be provided as per RAKMHSU guidelines”

3. Setting Research Up for Success

So far, steps 1 and 2 have been about getting students around to being interested in and participating in research. This part is where we take effective measures to streamline the research process and providing a solid infrastructure for research to help them hit the ground running.

Implementing A System That Matches Faculty with Students Interested in Their Respective Fields.

The Student’s Research Matching Program (RMP) aims to bridge the gaps between the students and supervisors by facilitating this communication and to provide the students with research opportunities based on their interests, previous experiences and academic achievements. If implemented properly, this process is going to be the main driving engine behind our whole approach.

The main program idea was adapted from a successful project done in the American University of Beirut from 2013 till now. Details of their project are documented, and the reference is added to the footnote[1]. This is in addition with liaising with the Research & Development Association at University of Sharjah who have had a positive experience with the project over the last year.

Providing A Step-By-Step Guide That Defines the Bureaucratic Steps of Starting and Finishing A Research Project In RAKMHSU.

It is not a secret that research has become a balancing act, between the loads of bureaucratic processes that a project must go through, and the immense amount of work a research project requires on its own.

To mitigate this issue, we aim to put out and regularly update a student’s research guide. This guide will enumerate the steps of the entire research process from idea formulation to publication.

Creating a research Portal

In order to maintain the accessibility and visibility of all our initiatives and tools, a webpage will include all the materials needed.

The aim from providing such a page is to have a one-stop shop for all research information, materials and programs, and to reduce the reliance on corporate emails which can be hard to pinpoint and easy to miss.

The portal will include the following:

  • Access to the Research Match Program and its rules (point 3.A)
  • Access to the step-by-step research guide (point 3.B)
  • Access to materials like abstract templates, RAKREC forms, links to recommended courses, etc.

[1]  Dagher, M., Atieh, J., Soubra, M., Khoury, S., Tamim, H., & Kaafarani, B. (2016). Medical Research Volunteer Program (MRVP): innovative program promoting undergraduate research in the medical field. BMC Medical Education, 16(1). http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/s12909-016-0670-9