Exploring the Clinical Usefulness of Undergraduate Medical Research: art

Emma Burke, Colm Savage, John Begley, Stephanie Sioufi, Simon Smith, Slavi Stoyanov, Colm O’Tuathaigh*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


A significant amount of published clinical research has no measurable impact on health and disease outcomes, and research in undergraduate medical education is viewed as especially susceptible. The aims of this mixed methods study were to (a) to use group concept mapping (GCM) to explore key features identified by hospital physicians, medical educators, and medical students as central to clinical usefulness in an undergraduate medical research context, and (b) review a sample of undergraduate medical research projects based on usefulness criteria described by Ioannidis (2016). In the GCM procedure, 54 respondents (39 students, 15 physicians) from an Irish medical school participated across each of three phases: brainstorming, sorting, and rating. Data was analysed using multidimensional scaling and hierarchical clustering. A retrospective analysis of 252 student projects was also completed using a rubric based on Ioannidis’s (2016) six domains of “clinical usefulness”: problem base, context placement and information gain, pragmatism, patient-centredness, feasibility, and transparency. Projects were scored for each domain by three assessors. Results were analysed and presented using descriptive analysis.GCM analysis revealed the following “clinically useful” research characteristics: optimal design and methodology, practicality, research skills development, translational impact, patient-centredness, and asking a clinical question. Following a rubric-based analysis of projects, the highest scoring categories (mean rating; range of 1–4) were feasibility (3.57), transparency (3.32), and problem base (3.05). The lowest scoring areas were context placement and information gain (2.73), pragmatism (2.68), and patient-centredness (212). We identified considerable conceptual overlap between stakeholder consensus views on “clinical usefulness” as applied to undergraduate research and Ioannidis’s criteria. Patient-centredness was identified as a domain requiring greater emphasis during the design of undergraduate medical research.

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages8
JournalMedical Science Educator
Publication statusPublished - 20 Apr 2024


  • Clinical usefulness
  • Medical students
  • Research-based learning


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