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Research in Medicine

Fostering research skills from the outset of medical training

The first program of its kind in Canada, Research in Medicine is a mandatory program that introduces Dalhousie medical students to research from the start of their medical training. From first year on, it fosters their research and critical thinking abilities as they complete independent research projects.

By the time they receive their MD degrees, Dalhousie medical graduates have a thorough understanding of the vital role that research plays in today’s health care system and a strong sense of how they can incorporate research into their medical careers—not only to advance their own practice but to improve the quality and outcomes of care throughout the health care system and around the world.

Program overview

Core curriculum sessions, first semester

Research in Medicine starts with core curriculum sessions (didactic lectures and small-group case-based tutorials) that introduce first-year medical students to the fundamentals of research:

  • developing a research question
  • overview of core research methodologies
  • literature searches and scoping reviews
  • critical appraisal of research
  • research study design
  • data collection and analysis

Translating research to practice sessions, first semester

In addition to the core curriculum sessions, first-year students also take part in research-to-practice sessions that expose them to the wide variety of research initiatives underway at the medical school and its affiliated teaching hospitals, and how these research efforts are being translated into improvements in health practice and policy. These sessions also provide them with opportunities to meet with faculty members involved in a wide variety of research disciplines, including:

  • clinical epidemiology
  • population health
  • basic science
  • medical education
  • health services delivery and outcomes
  • health policy
  • health ethics
  • medical humanities

This expands medical students’ appreciation of the broad scope of potential research questions and methodologies they can choose to pursue, and helps them decide which faculty member they would like to choose as a mentor.

Project selection and design, second semester

The Medical Development Research Office facilitates the process of matching first-year students to faculty mentors early in the second semester. Students then:

  • meet with their mentors to choose a project, refine a research question and select their research methods
  • start developing a research proposal
  • decide if they will complete the bulk of their research over one summer, two summers, or throughout the year
  • apply to a research ethics board for ethics approval, if necessary
  • submit a completed research proposal for review by Research in Medicine’s program directors

Conducting the research

Students may choose to conduct the bulk of their research over one summer (which could be the first or second summer of medical school) or two summers (12 weeks per summer). Conversely, depending on the type of research project, they may find it preferable to complete the research at times of their own choosing over the course of an entire year, or more. Mentors are available to guide and advise students as they pursue their research projects. Research is conducted in several stages, including:

  • data collection
  • data analysis
  • report of findings (manuscript, poster, presentation of results at a conference)

Requirements for completion

In order to successfully complete the Research in Medicine program, Dalhousie Medical students must:

  • attend the core curriculum sessions and research-to-practice sessions
  • complete a research project, under the guidance of a faculty mentor
  • submit annual progress reports
  • prepare and submit a formal manuscript-style (or like) to report on their findings; ideally, the manuscript will be accepted for publication by a peer-reviewed journal
  • present their research findings at an appropriate conference


Studentship funding is available to all participants of Research in Medicine, thanks to the generosity of donors who have established endowment funds for medical and research education, through Dalhousie University, Dalhousie Medical School, various departments within the medical school and Dalhousie Medical Research Foundation. Studentships provide a stipend of $5,000 to be paid to the medical student over the summer months.

Some of the studentships are designated to support students in pursuing projects in particular research areas.