The experiences, attitudes and understanding of research amongst medical students at an Australian medical school

Jaidyn Muhandiramge, Tony Vu, Megan J. Wallace, Eva Segelov

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

21 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Research engagement plays an integral role in developing clinicians that practice effective, evidence-based medicine. Research participation by clinicians, however, is declining. Given the link between research during medical school and future research output, promotion of medical student research is one avenue by which this shortage can be addressed. Student research attitudes and participation in Australia are not well-documented in the literature. This study therefore aims to investigate research practices, motivators, and barriers amongst Australian medical students in order to determine whether there is a need for further integration of research within Australian medical school curriculums. Methods: A cross-sectional study design was used to explore research experience and attitudes, as well as the enablers and barriers to research amongst students enrolled in all years of the five-year medical course at Monash University. A questionnaire was created by combining questions from several surveys on medical student research and comprised Likert scales, multiple choice options and free-text responses assessing research experience, attitudes, motivators, and barriers. Results: Seven hundred and four respondents (69.4% female; survey response rate 36.7%) reported variable research experience and interest. Less than half of the cohort (n = 296; 44.9%) had contributed to a research project. Increasing employability for specialty training programs was the primary motivating factor (n = 345; 51.9%) for pursuing research, with only 20.5% (n = 136) citing an interest in academia as a motivator. Time constraints (n = 460; 65.3%) and uncertainty surrounding how to find research opportunities (n = 449; 63.8%) were the most common barriers to research. Conclusions: Medical students at Monash University are interested in but have limited experience with research. Students are, however, primarily motivated by the prospect of increasing employability for specialist training; medical schools should therefore focus on encouraging intrinsic motivation for pursuing research. Greater integration of research education and opportunities within medical school curricula may also be required to provide students with the skills necessary to both pursue research and practice evidence-based medicine.

Original languageEnglish
Article number267
Number of pages10
JournalBMC Medical Education
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2021


  • Clinician-scientist
  • MD
  • Medical student research
  • Physician-scientist
  • Research attitudes
  • Research barriers
  • Research education
  • Research experiences
  • Research motivation
  • Research training

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