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Provisions for Research Assignments of Structured Master's Programmes

Department of Medicine
Guideline for MMed Assignment

The Aim

1. The aim of the project is to fulfill the research component of the MMed degree from Stellenbosch University, and this document should therefore be read in conjunction with the document “Stellenbosch University, Faculty of Health Sciences, Provisions for Research Assignments of Structured Master’s Program”. This is available on our Post Grad website http://sumed.sun.ac.za/

The Process

2. Identify an interesting and suitable research project and study leader: Sign a contract with your study supervisor, clearly setting out time lines and responsibilities. Start early and stick to deadlines. Three and a half years pass quicker than you think! Please note that a completed project is a prerequisite (Stellenbosch University candidates) for registration for the FCP part 2 exam.
3. Do a preliminary literature search and discuss the feasibility of your proposed project with your study leader and various experienced researchers
4. Prepare a protocol and apply for ethics approval from the HREC please see http://sun025.sun.ac.za/portal/page/portal/Health_Sciences/English/Centres%20and%20Institutions/Research_Development_Support/Ethics
5. Finish data collection timeously
6. Prepare the assignment. Several revisions are often required.
7. The research assignment should be handed in by your supervisor to the chairman of the postgraduate committee (with an accompanying cover letter)
8. The postgraduate committee will appoint one internal and one external examiner
9. The assignment (first draft handed in to the postgraduate committee) will be graded, and changes may be suggested. These changes should be addressed in the final (second) version – only then will the marks be captured (i.e. the research component is only considered complete when the second (or more) version is found to be acceptable by the postgraduate committee).

The Time frame

10. Year 1: identify a research project and a study supervisor, finalise the protocol for the project, register it and subject it to ethics approval.
11. Year 2 & 3: Data collection.
12. Year 4: Data analysis and preparation of the assignment
13. The College log-book contains a section on the Research Project. This should be kept up to date so that the PGC can easily evaluate the student’s progress at the quarterly marks discussions.
14. The completed assignment (as stated above) has to handed in prior to registration for the final exam

Assistance from the Department/Faculty

15. Regular contact between registrar and the study supervisor is paramount.
16. In an attempt to assist registrars, all students will be expected to complete the “Short course on Research Methodology” which is a 12 weeks (once a week) course provided by Faculty every year during year 1.
17. Visit the University Stellenbosch website at www.sun.ac.za/international/pgskills.They have various courses etc which may help you with specific areas of your research.
18. The On Track database
  • a. The online on.track planner tool has been developed as an interactive resource to guide postgraduate students through the research process.
  • b. It is available at: www0.sun.ac.za/ontrack (yes, with the 0 after the www)
  • c. It will be compulsory in the future for registrars to use this, since it will also allow their supervisors and the department to track their progress
19. A list of research topics as well as the accompanying study supervisor is available on the Post Graduate website at http://sumed.sun.ac.za/
20. Presentation at a Thursday Departmental Academic meeting:
  • a. This is compulsory, not voluntary - it gives the registrar an opportunity to get input from the other members of the department about study design, potential pitfalls etc which may save the registrar many hours of frustration. 
  • b. The HoD will only sign the HREC application form once the study has been discussed at the Academic Meeting.
21. The department will aim to allow most registrars a 6 weeks Research block near the end of their 3rd year, provided the department is adequately staffed. Please note:
  • a. The block is subject to departmental needs 
  • b. The block needs to be structured and monitored by the study supervisor. 
  • c. Only candidates with registered projects (including ethics approval) would qualify for such a rotation, 
  • d. The rotation should not be used for protocol development, but data collection, analysis and preparation of the dissertation.
  • e. The supervisor will also be asked to express an opinion regarding the appropriateness and timing of this rotation  

Financial incentive

22. You are reminded of the University’s research publication incentive (R5000 payment per publication in an accredited journal up to one year post MMed registration). 

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