Document Type



Biological and Biomedical Sciences; Centre for Innovation in Medical Education


Background: Pakistan has not been a major contributor to medical research, mainly because of the lack of learning opportunities to medical students. With the increase in online learning systems during COVID-19, research related skills can be taught to medical students via low-cost peer taught virtual research workshops.
Aim of the study: To assess the effectiveness of a comprehensive low-cost peer-taught virtual research workshops amongst medical students in Pakistan.
Methods: This quasi-experimental study assessed the effectiveness of five virtual research workshops (RWs) in improving core research skills. RWs for medical students from across Pakistan were conducted over Zoom by medical students (peer-teachers) at the Aga Khan University, Pakistan, with minimal associated costs. The content of the workshops included types of research, ethical approval and research protocols, data collection and analysis, manuscript writing, and improving networking skills for research. Improvement was assessed via pre-and post-quizzes for each RW, self-efficacy scores across 16 domains, and feedback forms. Minimum criteria for completion of the RW series was attending at least 4/5 RWs and filling the post-RW series feedback form. A 6-month post-RW series follow-up survey was also emailed to the participants.
Results: Four hundred medical students from 36 (/117; 30.8%) different medical colleges in Pakistan were enrolled in the RWs. However, only 307/400 (76.75%) medical students met the minimum requirement for completion of the RW series. 56.4% of the participants belonged to the pre-clinical years while the rest were currently to clinical years. The cohort demonstrated significant improvement in pre-and post-quiz scores for all 5 RWs (p < 0.001) with the greatest improvement in Data Collection and Analysis (+ 34.65%), and in self-efficacy scores across all domains (p < 0.001). 166/307 (54.1%) participants responded to the 6 months post-RWs follow-up survey. Compared to pre-RWs, Research involvement increased from 40.4 to 62.8% (p < 0.001) while proportion of participants with peer-reviewed publications increased from 8.4 to 15.8% (p = 0.043).
Conclusion: Virtual RWs allow for a wide outreach while effectively improving research-related knowledge and skills, with minimal associated costs. In lower-middle-income countries, virtual RWs are a creative and cost-effective use of web-based technologies to facilitate medical students to contribute to the local and global healthcare research community.


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Publication (Name of Journal)

BMC Medical Education

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.