Implementation evaluation of a medical student-led intervention to enhance students' engagement with research: Findings and lessons learned

Mian Arsam Haroon, Ali Aahil Noorali, Abdullah Saeed Khan, Muzamil Hamid Hussain, Rohan Advani, Ashmal Sami, Asma Altaf Merchant, Adnan Ali Khan, Sana Gul Baloch, Arsal Tharwani, Saulat H. Fatimi, Zainab Samad, Babar S. Hasan, Muneera A. Rasheed

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Introduction Medical colleges globally have student organizations that serve to enable students' involvement in research. However, details of their approach and activities are seldom published to serve as learning for student organizations in other settings. The Student Research Forum (SRF), a student organization based at a private medical school in Pakistan aims to facilitate students in acquiring research skills. Following the observation of a downward trajectory of student initiative and interest, SRF leadership restructured the organization and improve its impact. This study describes the development and implementation evaluation of the interventions. Methodology The operational framework was revised using the Theory of Change by the core group. Major interventions included enhanced social media and outreach coordination, research workshops, journal clubs, and mentorship to increase research output, mentorship opportunities, and knowledge of medical research; ultimately improving quality in research. The outcomes generated over the course of the study's duration from July 2019 to September 2021 were analyzed using the process metrics of reach, adoption, and efficacy. Results As a result of the interventions, SRF expanded its reach by conducting a total of 41 events during the duration of the study, facilitated by social media growth on each of SRF's online platforms, with a 300% increase in followers on Facebook, and a nationwide network of 91 student ambassadors. An annual workshop series taught research skills to more than 3800 participants. Students leading their own events, SRF featuring international speakers, and the abstracts submitted to SRF's annual conference, along with the conference's reach of 10,000 students, are seen as improvements in the ToC-informed interventions' adoption. The efficacy of the interventions manifested as the REACH program allocated 56 research projects to vetted applicants. Conclusion The applied interventions have accelerated SRF's progress towards achieving its long-term outcome of increased quality in research as translated by increased research output quantity, mentorship, and knowledge of medical research. Further evaluation is required to assess the success of the ToC. As SRF continues to grow, a continued analysis of the implementation outcomes is imperative to gauge its effectiveness.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0290867
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number8 August
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2023


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