It was with great anticipation for a group of nine students from Karaganda State Medical University, Kazakhstan who boarded a plane to Malaysia to attend a Short Course on Research Management at the International Medical University (IMU) for a week from 11-19 May, 2016. For some of them, this was their first visit to Malaysia. This group of students opted to do this short course in IMU after hearing good feedback from a group who was here previously. The students are Nadezhda Rukaber, Dinara Sheryazdanova, Madina Yermekova, Inkara Smagulova, Gennadiy Bublik, Valentina Li, Yernur Bekov, Galina Andreyeva, and Alik Kubayev, medical doctors who are currently pursuing Master’s degree. Their Master’s degree projects focus on various research topics, ranging from diabetes, pneumonia, hypertension, osteoporosis, premature birth, iron deficiency anaemia to thyroid diseases. The short course which aims to introduce Research Methodology to the students and expose them to laboratory-research based research, proved to be a truly interesting experience for them. They complimented on the friendliness of the IMU faculty and the close relationship amongst colleagues. They were also very impressed with the IMU Research Laboratory and Animal House, which were very clean and well-organised. The subjects in the short course included topics such as research project management, Good Clinical Practice (GCP) Guidelines, Good Laboratory Practice (GLP) Guidelines, literature search, role and functions of Institutional Review Boards, use of systemic reviews and meta-analysis, review of scientific literature, and ethical issues in publication. Aside from the lectures, the students had practical sessions where they visited the IMU Research Laboratory and Animal House. They were also assigned to work in groups of three on a research proposal.
The students found this course to be short yet very productive. They had benefited tremendously by learning the effective ways to retrieve information and find journal articles from the internet as well as to critically review the literature by having step-by-step discussion. The students were also impressed with the best practices adopted by our institutional ethical review board in evaluating research proposals.
Problem-based Learning (PBL) sessions on ethical issues in research publications were an eye-opener to them. This is the first time they learnt about plagiarism which was not imparted to them in their home country. Nonetheless, the students commented that the main challenge they faced here was the language barrier, especially in the process of producing the research proposals.
Beyond the classroom setting, the students encountered a little culture shock here in Malaysia as they had to adapt to the multicultural ethnicity in Malaysia. Aside from living in a hot and humid weather, they had difficulties getting used to Malaysian foods. However, the students had a good time sightseeing around Kuala Lumpur (Batu Caves, Chinatown, Botanical Garden, Bukit Bintang) and Port Dickson over the weekend.