11 – 20 May 2017 – Disparities of cultures, climate and environment as well as language barriers have not hindered a group of 17 students to leave their home country in Kazakhstan and travel 5899 kilometers crossing the borders to attend a short course on Research Management offered by the International Medical University (IMU), Malaysia. These Kazakhstan students are medical doctors pursuing their Master’s degree at the Karaganda State Medical University (KSMU). The students are all in the midst of conducting their research in areas ranging from cardiovascular disease, paediatric conditions, thyroid disease, diabetes, metabolic syndrome, osteoporosis to cancer. As part of their curriculum, they are required to attend a short course on Research Methodology outside their university. When asked why the students opted to come to Malaysia for the short course, one of the reasons given is that the education system in medicine here is similar to Kazakhstan. Furthermore, Malaysia is known for its high standards for postgraduate education as indicated by its impressive publications. The diverse cultures of Malaysia is another factor that has attracted the Kazakhstan students to come for the course. In addition, IMU was highly recommended by their seniors who had been to IMU for a short course in the previous years. In this short course at IMU, the Kazakhstan students were guided through the research process and management of a research project from the generation of research questions, hypothesis testing, literature search, review of scientific literature, to scientific writing and writing a research proposal in a series of lectures. The lectures covered topics on Good Clinical Practice (GCP) Guidelines, Good Laboratory Practice (GLP) Guidelines, roles and functions of Institutional Review Boards, Research Oversight and Governance, as well as the use of systemic reviews and meta-analysis. Besides that, the students also attended Problem Based Learning (PBL) sessions focusing on ethical issues in research and practical sessions at the IMU Research Laboratory where laboratory demonstrations on lab safety and molecular tools used in clinical research were conducted. The students were also given the task to write a short research proposal based on a selected topic and presented the proposal to faculty for comments.
The students highlighted that they had benefited tremendously from this 10-day short course as it was a good platform for them to learn about the research process. The students had gained new knowledge and broadened their horizons in research methodology, especially on how to do scientific writing effectively. The new knowledge gained in this short course could be applied in their thesis writing and future academic writings.
According to the students’ feedback, the knowledge gained in this short course had cleared many of their doubts, especially regarding thesis writing. It was through this course that the students first heard about Good Clinical Practice (GCP) and Good Laboratory Practice (GLP) guidelines, which are important guidelines to adhere to when conducting clinical research. On top of all that, this short course had helped the students understand how to write a research proposal and improve their command of English. Studies aside, the Kazakhstan students also took time off for sightseeing in Kuala Lumpur. For instance, they had great time visiting interesting places such as Zoo Negara, KLCC Twin Towers, and Batu Caves in Kuala Lumpur. They were very amazed with the beauty of the nature and the architecture of the landscapes here in Malaysia. They remarked that the local people here are all very kind, helpful, friendly, sociable, and cheerful. The hospitality of the locals here had made them feel at home. They were attracted to the diversity of the cultures due to the multi-ethnicity here in Malaysia. While the majority enjoyed the varieties of food here, some of the students did face challenges in adapting to our local foods, particularly the spicy ones. Indeed, this short course served as a stepping stone for the Kazakhstan students to improve their knowledge and skills in the process of conducting research, be it proposal writing, literature search and review, presentation of research proposal, and ethical issues. The knowledge and skills learnt from this short course certainly would be applicable in their future research undertakings or studies.Related article: Insightful Short Course on Research Management for Kazakhstan Students at IMU, Malaysia