What are the requirements/deliverables of the thesis project? 1) IRB certificate, 2) Mentor Contract, 3) Research Question (RQ) Form, 4) Research Protocol (RP) 5) CDU Abstract for Research Colloquium Day, 6) CDU Colloquium Presentation, and 7) Final Thesis
What research is acceptable for a thesis project? While the overall theme of the Medical Student Research Thesis Program (MSRTP) is health care disparities, students are given wide latitude in choosing specific research areas. These include biobehavioral/psychosocial topics, basic science or health services research, quality improvement, or public policy with direct applications in underserved communities. (See program brochure.)
When is the project due? The IRB Certificate, Mentor Contract, RQ, RP, and IRB Submission are all due by the end of the third year. The CDU Abstract for Research Colloquium Day, CDU Colloquium Presentation, Final Thesis, and IRB final report (if applicable) will all be due by the date indicated in the syllabus.
Will I have to present my thesis in front of an audience? When and where? Yes. You will present an oral PowerPoint presentation during the fourth year at the CDU Research Colloquium all-day event.
When can I start the project? In a way, you may start your project immediately. A thesis requires a lot of planning and thought. Technically, you begin your official research project when the Primary Mentor and the MSRTP Chair approve your research question. Please note that you cannot start implementing a project requiring IRB approval.
What help is available to those who have no experience in research or in scientific writing? You will receive didactic training in the form of relevant lectures and presentations. In addition, the program is available to provide guidance, resources, and funding on needed bases.
Who is in charge of the thesis project process? The MSRTP Chair and Program Coordinator oversee the day-to-day operation of the program.
Do I need a mentor or advisor? Yes, you will need at least one thesis mentor. You may also have scientific and research advisors, who may serve as secondary mentors, if you desire, at the discretion of the MSRTP Chair.
Does my mentor or advisor(s) have to be from Charles R. Drew University? No. However, your mentor must have a faculty position to sponsor your research activities officially. Your mentor, of course, can be from any research institution.
Does my project need IRB approval? This will depend on your project, principally whether or not it involves human subject testing. You will not need IRB approval if you use publicly available data or conduct a systematic review. The MSRTP Chair can help you quickly determine whether IRB approval is required for your proposed research.
Is there a guide, pamphlet or other resource that outlines the thesis process (e.g., classes required, calendar of activities)? Yes, there are several available. You can request these from the MSRTP Chair or Program Coordinator.
Does a thesis have to be based on a completely novel idea? No. A research question and project are initially reviewed and approved using FINER criteria. Is the question/project:
Can I undertake a project that I or others have already started or completed? Yes, I encourage students to do so. However, many logistical issues need to be discussed and resolved. You will need to meet with MSRTP Chair to discuss specific details of your proposed project.
How can I find out about projects that others have already done? We have compiled a database of potential thesis projects as a starting point.
How much time do I have to complete my thesis? You must complete your research activities and thesis between your medical education program’s third and fourth years. You may start as early as you want, as long as you have obtained approval and are in regular contact with the MSRTP Chair and Coordinator.
How will I find time to complete my thesis? I’m kept very busy now, and I hear the third year is crazy! I also know that almost all of my fourth year will be spent applying and interviewing for residency. Will these factors ‘cut me some slack? No. However, careful planning, discipline, a good mentor, and personal responsibility will ensure success. Our goal is to train doctors who become exemplary, responsible, and competent leaders in their fields.
How many thesis abstracts do I need to submit? Two. Towards the last week of January, UCLA requires that you upload your thesis abstract into their tracking system. You must follow their guidelines regarding length, section headings, etc. Around the middle of March, you must submit a version of your abstract consistent with MSRTP policies to the Chair and Coordinator. This will be included in the program handed out at the CDU Research colloquium, generally held at the end of March.
What is the approval process for my research protocol? Using the MSRTP protocol template, you will produce a draft reviewed by the MSRTP Chair. She may return this to you with comments and requests for changes, which can take several iterations. Once initially approved, your protocol is sent to external (usually CDU) faculty evaluators, who will score it using a rubric and provide critique/comments and (usually) requests for changes. You will forward the revised draft to the MSRTP Chair, who may request further changes or facilitate the final approval IRB Chair will send you a formal approval letter upon completing your RP. This is a cue to proceed to the next step. Again, this may take several iterations.
What is the approval process for my thesis? The process is very similar to that of the research protocol. Using an MSRTP template, you create a draft, which is initially reviewed by the Chair and/or a dean. This document may be returned to you with comments and requests for changes. Again, this may take several “back and forth” exchanges. Once your draft is approved, it is sent to external evaluators, who will score it using an MSRTP rubric and provide comments, critiques, and requests for changes. Once you have revised your document, you must send it again to the MSRTP Chair, who may return it for further modifications and alterations. Again, this may take several iterations. The Chair will explicitly advise when your draft is acceptable as your final thesis.
What are the significance of the rubric scores? They are used to evaluate the scientific quality of your work. It is also a criteria based on which your overall performance is evaluated.
What are the criteria to be awarded for honor thesis?
Timely submission of all research requirements
Scoring at the top 5 percent of your class on RP and Thesis rubric score
What are the criteria to be awarded for MSRTP award?
Timely submission of all research requirements
Scoring at the top 3 percent of your class on RP and Thesis rubric score
Do I need to close my IRB protocol, if I’ve obtained one for my research? Yes. You are responsible for completing the final report that effectively and officially closes your project. However, the MSRTP Chair may request you keep your protocol open for various reasons, including publication, and will advise if you do not have to close it and of any future plans.
Do I have to write a formal letter to the office of PC to let them know about my plan to take a year off? A. Yes
What kind of letter I would have to write to the Primary Care Research committee explaining my plans to take a year off? A. The purpose of the letter is to have formal documentation in your file. The letter simply could say: “This is to inform the office of the Primary Care Research Thesis Program that I will be taking next year (type the year) off to get an MPH at UCLA. After speaking with my mentor (name of the mentor), we decided that it would be a better idea to put my research project on hold until I return to Drew for the fourth year next year (type the year). Therefore, I will be graduating with the call of (type the year).”
If you are requesting time off for non-emergent reasons (e.g., family events, academic conferences, etc. How do I remediate it? While the Clerkships Chairs and Site Coordinators will do their best to accommodate your request, depending on the structure of the clerkship and the various clinical settings that are a part of the clerkship experience, this may not always be possible. In some cases, when there is no way to make up the required time that would be missed during the scheduled clerkship duration, students have elected to drop the clerkship in advance and reschedule it at the start of the 4th year.
What if I am in the Global Health Equity Pathway or MSTP, am I expected to attend the MSRTP research sessions? A. Students who have participated in different paths/partner programs will not be expected to attend these specific activities/sessions, however, are expected to fulfill the MSRTP objectives through their pathway/program.
If we are to submit a published manuscript in lieu of the senior thesis, what steps are we to take? A. We would require you to email us the submission notice from the Journal.