A national virtual research training workshop for 3800 medical students: A mixed-methods evaluation of a novel research education program

Document Type



Medical College Pakistan; General Surgery


Background: Research training is necessary to fill the burgeoning global decline in physician-scientists, which is further pronounced in developing countries. This has generated much interest within institutions across the world to increase research exposure for students as part of medical school curricula. In order to produce a cadre of aspiring physician-scientists, the Student Research Forum (SRF) at Aga Khan University conducted a series of online research workshops leveraging innovative technological solutions during the COVID-19 pandemic. Our study aims to explore students’ perceptions of engaging undergraduate medical students in online research training workshops and to evaluate the effectiveness of such interventions in improving the knowledge and skillset of participating students.
Methods: A Beginners Guide to Research’ was a nation-wide virtual research workshop series conducted for medical students across Pakistan in June 2020. A mixed-methods study design was employed to evaluate course efficacy in terms of course content, duration and strategy. Dissemination of quantitative feedback forms alongside simultaneous conduction of qualitative interviews were used to receive feedback for the workshop and obtain the perspectives of medical students on the effectiveness of educational interventions in improving research-related knowledge.
Results: A total of 3,862 medical students enrolled in the national workshop series. The feedback form was completed by 2,754 participants, hailing from 113 universities across 37 cities in Pakistan. 2,311 (84.0%) participants stated that the course helped them improve their overall research knowledge and 2,333 (84.7%) felt confident that the skills learnt would help them in future research projects. 40 participants from 25 institutions across Pakistan participated in the qualitative interviews. 24 (60.0%) participants had no prior knowledge of research, 23 (57.5%) found virtual screen-sharing to be the most useful learning strategy and 22 (55.0%) students expressed interest in initiating/expanding their institutional research platforms.
Conclusion: This nation-wide series presented a way in which alternative pedagogies can be used for the dissemination of research knowledge and skills to medical students with a strong inclination towards research. Efforts must be made by institutions to provide opportunities to medical students for engaging in meaningful scientific research during the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond.


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Publication (Name of Journal)

Research Square

Creative Commons License

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