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 Table of Contents  
Year : 2020  |  Volume : 9  |  Issue : 3  |  Page : 277-283

Research fair: A three pronged innovative effort for fruitful publications out of post graduate dissertations

1 Department of Biochemistry, JSS Medical College, JSS Academy of Higher Education and Research, Mysore, Karnataka, India
2 Department of General Medicine, JSS Medical College, JSS Academy of Higher Education and Research, Mysore, Karnataka, India
3 Department of Community Medicine, JSS Medical College, JSS Academy of Higher Education and Research, Mysore, Karnataka, India
4 Department of Pathology, JSS Medical College, JSS Academy of Higher Education and Research, Mysore, Karnataka, India

Date of Submission08-Jul-2020
Date of Decision10-Jul-2020
Date of Acceptance14-Jul-2020
Date of Web Publication28-Jul-2020

Correspondence Address:
Dr. Praveen Kulkarni
Department of Community Medicine, JSS Medical College, JSS Academy of Higher Education and Research, Mysore, Karnataka
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/ijhas.IJHAS_161_20

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BACKGROUND: Medicine and research have almost become synonymous due to the emergence of evidence-based medicine. To keep up with the advancements in medical science, postgraduate students should learn the art and science of research. Postgraduate dissertations should take no longer a formality to acquire the degree but can be the best opportunity for disseminating their works as effective research publications.
MATERIALS AND METHODS: We adapted research fair intervention to encourage the postgraduate students to publish their dissertation work. Students were asked to convert their dissertation into poster, which was adjudged by the experts from within and outside the institution. Best dissertation award competition was held to encourage them to showcase their work. The manuscript writing workshop was conducted to orient them on preparing a research article by making them work for the small group with the expert mentor.
RESULTS: Among 100 students who participated in the research fair, 88 completed the feedback survey. The majority of the participants, 71.6% and 59.1%, mentioned that poster presentation and the feedback by the judges were very useful. About 54.5% of the participants mentioned that the manuscript writing workshop was very useful. Out of 100 manuscripts drafted during research fair, 78 (78.0%) have been submitted to various national and international journals. Out of these 21 articles are accepted for publication, 12 are published and 45 are in the review process. The overall success rate of the intervention was 42.3%.
CONCLUSIONS: The research fair intervention was successful in encouraging feedback from the participants and the higher rate of submission for publication.

Keywords: Dissertation, manuscript, postgraduate students, poster presentation, publication, research fair

How to cite this article:
Suma M N, Hathur B, Kulkarni P, Manjunath G V. Research fair: A three pronged innovative effort for fruitful publications out of post graduate dissertations. Int J Health Allied Sci 2020;9:277-83

How to cite this URL:
Suma M N, Hathur B, Kulkarni P, Manjunath G V. Research fair: A three pronged innovative effort for fruitful publications out of post graduate dissertations. Int J Health Allied Sci [serial online] 2020 [cited 2020 Sep 28];9:277-83. Available from: http://www.ijhas.in/text.asp?2020/9/3/277/290714

  Introduction Top

Medical science is advancing with great velocity, and every medical doctor is expected to cope-up with this advancement. Practicing evidence-based medicine and patient care driven through quality research and innovation are two major keys to achieving this.

Research is the systematic process of collecting, compiling, and analyzing information to increase one understand of the phenomenon under study. The aim of the research is to effectively contribute toward the understanding of the phenomenon and then to communicate that understanding to others.[1]

The best research can be extracted by igniting young minds. In this direction, motivating the young clinicians to take up meaningful research has a greater impact on patient care practices and societal well-being. To be a passionate researcher along with a competent doctor, imparting the knowledge and skills of research from the student life is the most desirable strategy. With this intent, the Medical Council of India has made it mandatory to undertake research work during postgraduation and submit it as a dissertation for the partial fulfillment of the degree.[2] However, over the years, this exercise has just remained as a formality, and the postgraduate students often feel that their efforts are not valued.[3] The research work done as a dissertation remain as documents in the libraries, often without getting converted to meaningful scientific publications.[3],[4] There could be a difference in the outcome of PG theses work depending on the guide's attitude and capability as well as student's effort in collecting frank and genuine data, performing unadulterated analysis, and reaching to a meaningful conclusion.

A solution to these issues is to inculcate research culture among resident doctors. Research culture can be defined as a status or a practice, in which members of an organization are bonded by shared, research related values and practices and have a safe home for testing new ideas. This research culture can be established by congenial and collaborative efforts of institutional management, faculty members, peers, research assistants, laboratories, and community. Out of these stakeholders, institutional management and faculty members play a very important role in carving the research credentials of the resident doctors. Orienting the students about feasible and socially impactful research ideas, training them on the correct and ethical methods of conducting research studies, empowering them on proper documentation of the research observations, and dissemination of research findings into meaningful scientific publications are the core elements in enhancing research culture.[5]

There are many models tried and tested by different academic institutions on improving the research culture among the residents. Conducting research methodology workshops, certificate programs in research methods,[2] incentivizing the best research with awards, giving research scholarships to the students, conducting motivation classes to the residents,[3] making regulations on mandatory presentation of the research findings in the national and international conferences, etc. to name a few.[4],[5] However, none of these approaches are universally applicable as every institution should undertake steps and measures tailored to its own existing research culture. The ultimate factors that decide the translation of dissertation to publication are the inner drive for this conversion and sustained level of motivation among mentors and students, which are unfortunately lacking in most of the institutions.

In this background, we have adapted an innovative participatory research fair model in empowering the residents to undertake quality research studies, showcase the research findings as a poster presentation and convert the research to meaningful publications with the help of expert mentors. In this paper, authors are making an attempt to describe the process, outcome, and feedback of participants and mentors on this innovation.

  Materials and Methods Top

JSS Medical College is a constituent college of JSS Academy of Higher Education and Research (JSSAHER) situated at Mysuru, Karnataka. The institution offers postgraduate degree (M. D and M. S) in 22 different medical disciplines. Totally 100 postgraduate students across pre, para, and clinical departments in the 3rd year of their respective programs had completed their dissertation work and submitted to JSSAHER for the partial fulfillment of their degree. Within 1 month from the date of submission, three sets (prongs) of activities were undertaken to facilitate the showcasing of the research work as research posters o and convert their dissertation to publications. The overview of the methodology is depicted in [Figure 1]. Institutional ethics committee approval was obtained for the innovation, and written informed consent was obtained from all the participants.
Figure 1: Flow chart of methodology

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Poster competition

Within a fortnight of dissertation submission, an announcement was made for the students to convert their dissertation into a research poster. A template for poster preparation with sections and subsections, size, color combinations, font size, font color, and font type, was communicated to all the students and their mentors. The students were asked to submit their completed posters to the college as a soft copy after the initial review at the level of their Departments. The scientific team at the medical college level undertook second-level review of the posters and sent the remarks to the students for revision. Following this, students were split across two groups. Group one constituted all the postgraduates in pre, paraclinical, medicine, and allied specialties. Students in surgery and allied specialties constituted group two. Each group presented their posters on a separate day in the presence of their guides and were adjudged by expert judges using a structured checklist. Totally eight students (4 in each group) were honored with the best poster awards.

Best dissertation award competition

The postgraduate students were invited to submit their application for the best dissertation award competition in a structured template. The template was in MS PowerPoint format with total 15 slides on the need for the study, objectives, material and methods, results, discussion, and conclusions. These applications were scrutinized by three experts through double-blind review technique. The average of three reviewers was considered for shortlisting eight top applications for the final presentation. These eight dissertations were presented in the grand viva style of the PhD program in the presence of two senior academicians as judges. A structured tool comprising of proportional weightage for the novelty of the study, the meticulousness of methodology, relevant statistical analysis, description of results, detailed discussion, the relevance of conclusion, applicability of recommendations, and defending of the research work was used for the assessment of dissertations. Considering the presentation skills of the candidate along with thorough deliberations and discussions, one best out of eight studies was selected as the best dissertation. Two other dissertations received runner up prizes.

Manuscript preparation and submission for publication

All the postgraduate students were asked prepare a draft manuscript from their dissertation in a structured original article template. An orientation session on manuscript writing was conducted by three experts who have a minimum of 20 publications in various national and international journals. The orientation program covered various aspects of designing the manuscript in abstract, introduction, methods, results and discussion, selection of the journal, process of manuscript submission, replying to reviewer's comments, publication ethics. This was followed by mentoring session where five postgraduate students sat with one designated mentor and designed their manuscript. The mentors' responsibility was to facilitate the process of writing manuscript, give technical inputs, and review the prepared manuscript using a structured checklist. Totally 20 faculty members across different specialties distributed across 20 groups with five students each acted as the mentors. The whole exercise took place for a day, and the students were then sent to their respective guides and advised to finalize the manuscript, submit to a journal preferably indexed in SCOPUS and update the organizers on the submission status.


Feedback was obtained in a structured format through the Google survey sheet from all the postgraduate students separately for poster presentation, manuscript preparation sessions. The feedback questionnaire had both quantitative and qualitative items and a space to express their opinion about what went well?, what did not go well? And areas which need improvement in future?

Statistical analysis

The quantitative data captured through the survey was analyzed through percentages, and the qualitative data were expressed as verbatim and a list of the common responses. The data were presented as tables and figures as relevant.

  Results Top

All the 100 postgraduate students presented their research posters in the research fair. The mean score awarded by the reviewers for the posters presentations was 48 ± 10.7 in pre and para-clinical subjects, 48.5 ± 9.5 in medicine and allied subjects, 54.52 ± 6.41 in surgery and allied science students out of 60 aggregate marks. Twenty-nine students applied for the best dissertation award, and 8 of them qualified for the final presentation. The mean score of the students qualified for the final round of presentation was 36.12 ± 3.09 out of 40 aggregate marks out of them one was selected as the best dissertation. A total of 88 students responded to the feedback sent through the Google survey sheet. Twelve students did not take up the survey despite three repeated attempts.

Feedback of students on poster presentation

Quantitative results of feedback from students on poster presentation revealed that out of 88 students, 63 (71.6%) and 20 (22.7%) mentioned that the exercise of poster presentation was very useful and useful for them, respectively [Figure 2]. Fifty-two (59.1%) and 28 (31.8%) of the students mentioned that the feedback given by the judges over their posters, were very useful and useful, respectively [Figure 3]. On a qualitative item to mention one thing that they found useful with poster presentation, the majority of the students mentioned that this activity provided them an opportunity to present their dissertation findings in a condensed and comprehensive manner. Verbatim of one of the student goes like “It helped me in preparing a concise report of my dissertation” Another common response was related to the usefulness of this activity in preparing for the conference presentations and understanding the common mistakes in presentation as mentioned by one of the student”It helped to improve our presentation in future, learnt where all I did mistakes.” Few students opined that the exercise of this kind will boost confidence and act as a platform to showcase their research work. An interesting remark by one of the students was that the activities of this kind will help in understanding the strength of research work in other departments and hence facilitates interdepartmental collaborative research works in future.
Figure 2: Usefulness of poster presentation session

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Figure 3: Usefulness of comments by judges on poster

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In response to an open-ended question on mention one thing that you feel can be improved in future, majority of students mentioned on having the judges from the same specialty, conducting poster presentation in the latter half of 2nd year or in early 3rd year of their postgraduation, and E poster in place of hard flex banners [Table 1].
Table 1: Qualitative feedback on poster presentation session

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Feedback of students on manuscript writing workshop

Quantitative results of feedback from students on manuscript writing workshop revealed that out of 88 students, 48 (54.5%) and 38 (43.2%) of the participants have mentioned that exercise of manuscript writing workshop was very useful and useful for them, respectively. On the feedback given by the facilitators on manuscript designing, 42 (47.7%) mentioned that they were useful, and 44 (50.0%) responded that they were very useful. 59 (67.0%) and 27 (30.7%) of students found the checklist provided for the manuscript designing and review was very useful and useful, respectively.

On qualitative enquiry to mention one thing that they liked the most about the manuscript writing workshop, majority of the participants mentioned that the exercise helped them to understand the method of preparing the manuscript in a stepwise manner. As one of the students wrote, “In one day, I got to know what manuscript is? How to prepare it systematically? What is the need for it in academic settings? And so many things.” Another student wrote, ”It enables the student to choose a proper direction for publication of their research.” A lot of students wrote on the role of small group facilitators and the work ambiance. They also expressed about the learning that took place by looking at their research through reviewers' viewpoints. A student wrote like this ”This whole exercise provided me an opportunity to look at the manuscript from reviewer's viewpoint.” Another set of comments were related to working atmosphere created for the manuscript preparation. A student wrote, “I appreciate the work ambience, all faculty and PGs seated with the same goal of converting our research into publication, it makes me feel excited and motivated to work more on my paper”. Participants expressed their sense of satisfaction with the checklist and template provided for designing and reviewing of the manuscript. As one student wrote, I admire “precise nature of the workshop and the templates provided a guide for proceeding with the publication[Table 2].
Table 2: Qualitative feedback on manuscript writing workshop

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On an item to express one thing that needs to be improved with respect to manuscript preparation workshop, many students advised to organize one sensitization workshop at the of 2nd year of their post gradation program and actual manuscript writing workshop on the middle of their third academic year so that they can work on the writing of dissertation and publication manuscript simultaneously. As one of the students wrote, ”It should be held in the second half of 2ndyear or start of 3rd year so we can write thesis and manuscript together and make it way better”. Other suggestions were related to the increment in the duration of the workshop, giving additional time for mentorship and review of the manuscript, conducting follow up workshops to understand the progress of work, etc[Table 2].

62 (70.4%) and 24 (27.3%) of the participants opined that the overall research fair was very useful and useful. 77 (87.5%) of the students recommended the research fair to the subsequent batches and 12.5% of students opined that it may be conducted considering the time constraints and burden of clinical work [Table 3].
Table 3: Feedback of participants on manuscript writing workshop and research fair

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Submission and publication status of manuscripts drafted during research fair

Out of 100 manuscripts drafted during the manuscript writing workshop of the research fair, 78 (78.0%) have been submitted to various national and international journals by the students and their guides in the next one subsequent month. Three months follow-up after the research fair, of these 78 submissions, 21 papers are accepted for publication, 12 are published, and 45 are in the review process. Thus, the overall success rate of the intervention (Accepted for publication + published manuscripts/total manuscripts submitted) was 42.3%.

  Discussion Top

Systematically conducted health research has a major impact on the promotion of health, prevention of diseases, efficient diagnosis of diseases, and effective treatment for health problems. Three major factors that determine the research inclination of any student in health science are the knowledge about the research methods, attitude to undertake quality research, and the ability to anticipate and overcome the barriers for research. One of the major barriers for publication of the research work among postgraduate students is lack of adequate mentorship and guidance on methods of designing the manuscript, identification of suitable journal, submission process and the reply to reviewer's comments.[6] To break these barriers and facilitate the culture of research and publication, we undertook the intervention of research fair for the postgraduate students.

An assignment of posters is a common way to present research results to viewers at research fairs and conferences. Too often, however, researchers treat posters as poor cousins to oral presentations or published papers, failing to recognize the opportunity to convey their findings while interacting with individual viewers.[7] An effective postern acts as a tool for visual communication, which will help the researcher to engage colleagues in conversation, convey the key findings of research to a large number of people in a short period.[8] The feedback of students on the poster sessions in the present study was very much encouraging. Both qualitative and quantitative results suggest that the participants found the poster presentations very useful. The results are consistent with the findings of a study conducted by Sahoo et al. in Malaysia, where the participants undergoing similar exercise opined process of making poster preparation acted as an opportunity to promote deep learning. Moreover, a majority expressed that making these presentations required teamwork, which gave them an insight into collaborative learning.[9] Deonandan et al., in their study, also reported similar observations where >90% of the participants expressed that the poster presentation is a very useful tool for learning. The participants in that study opined that the poster experience was social and interactive, required real-time assessment of students' content in response to judges' probing, and also afforded students the opportunity to further self-educate by exposing them to their colleagues' posters.[10]

Writing a good manuscript is often the most significant hurdle to be overcome by beginners since a poorly written manuscript forms one of the major reasons for rejection. Scientific writing is often not taught or emphasized adequately to trainees in the prevailing medical education imparted in India. To address this issue, manuscript writing exercise was another important intervention undertaken in the research fair. Both qualitative and quantitative feedback from participants was very much encouraging. This observation was similar to the ones obtained by Goyal et al., who observed that 88% of the participants of 1 day workshop on manuscript writing found it to be very useful and recommended such workshops in future to help the beginners in publishing their research work.[11] Few participants raised concerns about the duration of the workshop to be more than a day, and similar observations were also made in the present study. Glew et al. in their two quantitative surveys on manuscript writing following a structured scientific writing sessions observed that manuscript writing skills are the most essential ones to be learnt and adapted in doctoral and postdoctoral programs.[12] They learnt how to improve their own manuscript but also how to offer criticism and advice to the colleagues in a sensitive and constructive manner. In our study also, the participants gave similar feedback; they understood the importance of reviewing the manuscript from the perspective of the reviewer.

Two-/third of the draft manuscripts developed during the workshop have been successfully sent for publication. Twenty-one have got accepted for publication and 12 are already published; thus, the overall success rate was 42.3%. These results indicate that effective mentorship, sustained motivation, and concerted guidance will help in enhancing the rate of publication among postgraduate students. Skovgaard et al., in their study in Denmark, found that the publication rate among the students to be around 52%. Our rates are lower than the Denmark study as the data collection has taken place just three months after the intervention, but over a period of time, it is expected to improve.[13]

Postgraduate dissertations are a significant source of scientific information if conducted properly. Unless this information is cognized and disseminated as a research publication, the efforts involved in performing this task remain unjustified. To achieve these outcomes, we undertook these set of interventions in the name of the research fair. This experiment being the first of its kind with multiple interventions concentrating on inculcating the research culture among postgraduate students and enhancing the seriousness about research and publication among them has been successful to a greater extent. There is a need to take the learning's from this experiment forward and sustain the spirit research and publication on days to come.

  Conclusions Top

The present intervention of research fair undertaken to bring a positive attitude among postgraduate students in terms of research and publication was proven to be a successful model. More than 2/3rd of participants opining that the poster presentation, manuscript writing workshop were useful for them to convert their dissertation into publication are highly encouraging ones. Submission rate of 78% and success rate of publication to be 42.3% have given a hint that these kinds of efforts can help in achieving a considerable increase in the publication rate of postgraduate dissertations in days to come. Incentivizing and organizing a competitive research fair will help in improving the research planning and conducting meaningful research through PG dissertation.


The authors would like to acknowledge the support extended by the management and officials of JSSAHER, guides of postgraduate students, mentors of manuscript writing workshop, judges of the poster competition, teaching, nonteaching and administrative faculty of JSS Medical College for their constant support and cooperation.

Financial support and sponsorship


Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.

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Goyal M, Misra DP, Rajadhyaksha S, Singh YP, Goyal N, Ravindran V. Effectiveness of a 1-day workshop on scientific writing conducted by the Indian Journal of Rheumatology. Indian J Rheumatol 2018;13:117-20.  Back to cited text no. 11
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Skovgaard M, Okkels N, Christensen MK, Telinius N, Hauge EM. Publication rate and PhD enrolment following a medical pre-graduate research programme. Dan Med J 2015;62:A5134.  Back to cited text no. 13


  [Figure 1], [Figure 2], [Figure 3]

  [Table 1], [Table 2], [Table 3]


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