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Impact of an intercalated research degree on long-term academic success

A 2019/2020 Summer Studentship research project

This study will be the first in New Zealand to evaluate the long-term academic outcomes of the intercalated BMedSc(Hons) programme. Findings from this study will provide evidence pertaining to the impact of this undergraduate research training pathway on the development of the clinical academic workforce in New Zealand. Results from this study will have implications for New Zealand medical schools and funders of BMedSc(Hons) specifically and undergraduate research training programmes in general.

Student: William Ju
Supervisors: Dr Ibrahim S. Al-Busaidi, Dr Yassar Alamri, Professor Tim J Wilkinson
Sponsor: Gulf Medical Education Summer Research Scholarship


Academic clinicians are medical doctors with additional training in biomedical research. They represent a unique group of doctors well positioned to identify unanswered clinical questions, conduct research and improve patient care. They also contribute to undergraduate/postgraduate medical education and university administration [1]. However, the number of clinical academics is declining worldwide [1, 2]. In an attempt to reverse this trend, several clinical academic/research training pathways have been introduced by medical schools around the world. In New Zealand, the dual degree MBChB-BMedSc(Hons) programme is the most focused formal research training pathway offered to medical students [1]. The stated overall aim of this programme is to prepare medical graduates for a “future career involving research or academic medicine” [3].

Published studies indicate that involvement in undergraduate research is associated with postgraduate academic success, including increased peer-reviewed publications and higher attainment of academic positions [4]. We have recently shown that one third (32.7%) of Otago BMedSc(Hons) students published their findings in peer-reviewed journals [5]. However, the impact of the intercalated MBChB-BMedSc(Hons) programme on developing future clinical academics has not been investigated.


The overall objective of this study is to assess the impact of completing an intercalated BMedSc(Hons) degree during medical school on long-term academic productivity/scholarly success through examining post-graduation (1) peer-reviewed publications, (2) completion of higher academic/research degrees (Master’s/PhD/MD[research]), and (3) faculty/academic appointment. The specific aims are to:

  1. Identify the rate of and characteristics of post-graduation peer-reviewed publication (e.g., number, year and type of publication, and journal name)
  2. Determine the rate of completing higher academic degrees (Maters and above following medical school graduation) and attainment of faculty/academic position post-graduation;
  3. To examine predictors of post-graduation publications, including the independent effect of completing BMedSc(Hons)

Method/student researcher’s component of the study

This study will use a matched-cohort design to assess the long-term impact of completing BMedSc(Hons) degree on future academic success as defined above. A list of completed BMedSc(Hons) theses between 1995 and 2006 at the University of Otago along with student names will be obtained from an existing database [5]. The cut-off date is to allow for time from graduation to completion of vocational (specialist) training (minimum follow-up period after graduation of 9 years). Gender-, age-, and graduation year-matched controls will be identified from publicly available university graduate databases [6] in a 1:1 ratio using a random number generator (Microsoft Excel).

To determine post-graduation publication for both cases and controls (Aim 1), the successful applicant will be required to search MEDLINE® database (The largest and most widely used biomedical bibliometric database) using a standardised search criterion (last name and first initials with/out other identifiers such as country affiliation “New Zealand”).
Information related to completion higher academic degrees, attainment of academic position and current clinical scope of practice (Aims 2 and 3) will be collected by the successful applicant from Google searches, New Zealand graduate databases [6], and publicly available Australia and New Zealand registers of doctors.

Collected data will be entered into an Excel spreadsheet by the successful applicant. Statistical analysis will be conducted mainly by the successful applicant with help provided by the co-supervisors. Descriptive statistics will be utilised to analyse most of the study results. For Aim 4, conditional logistic regression analysis will be used to calculate odds ratios and confidence intervals for the different outcomes (i.e., completion of higher degrees, post-graduation publications, attainment of faculty position, and undergraduate performance) with years after graduation as a covariate.


  1. Al-Busaidi IS, Wells CI. Stimulating the clinical academics of tomorrow: a survey of research opportunities for medical students in New Zealand. N Z Med J. 2017;130(1462):80-88.
  2. Salata RA, Geraci MW, Rockey DC, Blanchard M, Brown NJ, Cardinal LJ, Garcia M, Madaio MP, Marsh JD, Todd RF 3rd. U.S. Physician-Scientist Workforce in the 21st Century: Recommendations to Attract and Sustain the Pipeline. Acad Med. 2018;93(4):565-573.
  3. University of Otago. Bachelor of Medical Science with Honours (BMedSc(Hons)). Available from: Accessed: 14 July 2019.
  4. Amgad M, Man Kin Tsui M, Liptrott SJ, Shash E. Medical Student Research: An Integrated Mixed-Methods Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. PLoS One. 2015;10(6):e0127470.
  5. Al-Busaidi IS, Alamri Y. Publication rates and characteristics of undergraduate medical theses in New Zealand. N Z Med J. 2016;129(1442):46-51.
  6. University of Otago. Verification of Qualifications. Available from: Accessed: 14 July 2019.

Student Prerequisites

Undergraduate student studying health-related courses/medical students (2nd-6th year) with an interest in medical education research. Interested students are required to provide an up-to-date curriculum vitae and a brief statement (<100 words) detailing what they want to get out of the project. Applicants should not have held a Summer Research Scholarship previously.

Statistical analysis package will be required.

How to apply