Factors influencing the publication of the undergraduate medical students research projects- at the College of Medicine- King Saud University- Saudi Arabia


  • Hamza Mohammad Abdulghani
  • Khalid Suwayyid Alomar
  • Abdullah Ibrahim Almater
  • Fahad Abdullah Alshayhan
  • Majed Abdullah Al-sheikh
  • Abdullah Mohammed Almansour
  • Abdullah Ali Alqarni


Undergraduate Research / Curricular Environments


Not Available


Research has a major impact on the quality of health care and on the practicing EBM by clinicians.1 Research is a systematic process of collecting and analyzing information in order to increase understanding of a phenomenon, topic or issue.

Research is not limited for post-graduate training candidates or working physician. Around the globe, undergraduate medical students are obligated to carry out research during their course.2 Studies have identify that undergraduate medical research helps the students to understand medicine and improve clinical skills,3 apply what they study in practical way,4 improve confidence and problem-solving skills,5 and communication skills.6

A research activity needs to follow the steps and process in a logical manner. Any study get published in a scientific journal will be easily available to the scientific community, stake holders or organizations. Usually, most of these findings bring major changes at an institutional level.7 Literature survey showed that the publication rate of undergraduate research projects ranges from 15% to 50%, depending on many factors.8-11 They found main factor which encourage undergraduate medical student to carry out a study or to submit their research projects for publication, is to improve their curriculum vitae.12,13 Nevertheless, many barriers have been identified. Studies have shown that the main barriers for not publishing were lack of time.14,15,16 

Summary of Work

A quantitative observational, questionnaire-based, cross sectional study was conducted in the College of Medicine, King Saud University, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, during the academic year 2014-2015. The study included all the leaders of the groups of research projects from the academic years 4th, 5th and intern junior doctors who have completed the Research Methodology (CMED-305) course in their 3rd academic year. The total research groups during these 3 academic years were 164 and who could not complete the given questionnaire were excluded. Research methodology course is conducted during the third undergraduate medical academic year to teach students, how to conduct a research project under an assigned supervisor.

Self-administered questionnaire was developed then tested and modified by a pilot study. The questionnaire contains 44 items which included personal data (gender, current academic year and marital status), questions related to the project publication, the factors that helped students to publish their projects, and the barriers which were perceived by students that prevent the publication. The research project, which was recorded as published by students, was re-checked again for its publication by PubMed and Google Scholar to improve the authenticity of the data. Also, each study was checked, if published in ISI (Institute for Scientific Information) journals.

Data were analyzed using the SPSS version 21.0(IBM Corporation, Armonk, NY, USA) statistical software. The descriptive statistics (mean, standard deviation, and percentages) were used for the quantitative and categorical study data and outcome variables. Karl Pearson’s chi- square test and odds ratios (OR) were used to observe and measure the association between the categorical data and outcome variables. A p-value of <0.05 and 95% confidence intervals were used to report the statistical significance and precision of the results. 

Summary of Results

Out of 164 research groups, 161 had responded to the study, with the response rate of 98.2%. Among them, 36 (22.4%) had published their research projects. The publication rate of internship students (n = 49; 30.2%, OR= 8.71) and 5th year students (n = 53; 32.9%, OR= 4.47) was higher than the 4th year students (p < 0.014). (Figure 1) Two third (n=24, 66.7%) of research published in international journal, while 8 (33.3%) published in national journal. However, only about two third (n=25, 69.4%) indexed in the Institute for Scientific Information (ISI). Also research groups with 5-7 members (n = 91; 56.5%, OR= 2.86) had publish their research project more than the group with 2-4 members (p = 0.013). The higher research publication rate was also associated with the supervisor high academic rank. The improvement of curriculum vitae, supervisor support and skilled training were the motivating factors to publish their research projects, (Figure 2) while lack of time, lack of supervisors’ support and lack of cooperation among the group members were hindering factors for student who didn't publish their research projects. (Figure 3) 

Figure 1: The publication rate of medical students on CMED 305 research course, King Saud University during 2014-2015. 


Figure 2: The motivation factors which influence the publication of CMED-305 course project, King Saud University during 2014-2015. 


Figure 3: The barriers which hindered the publication of CMED-305 course research, King Saud University during 2014-2015. 


The result of this study provided evidence for the publication of CMED-305 research projects. The present study showed a relatively low publication rate. However, most of the students reported that un-published researches are either in process or planning for publication. The study found that low publication rate is due lack of time, insufficient support from supervisor and lack of cooperation between the group members. Our result also found supervisor skills or interest was low in publishing the student’s research. 


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