Criteria for Defining Research Quality
For the Trainee
Assessment of the trainee's research progress can be facilitated by a system based on defined levels of achievement. A three-year, 80-percent time commitment is the minimum training for basic and/or clinical research. Within that framework, suggested criteria upon which to evaluate research performance are listed as follows:
- Core elements of research:
- Project/study design
- Development of protocol
- Proficiency in research methodology
- Conceptual and statistical analysis
- Principles of authorship and manuscript preparation
- Scientific integrity
- Use of research competency committee to monitor/confirm performance
- Active participation in regularly scheduled research seminars, journal clubs, laboratory meetings and/or formal course work
- Acquisition of a graduate degree (if not already acquired)
- Oral or poster presentations at regional, national or international scientific meetings
- Publications, especially those in peer-reviewed journals
- Honors and awards for research quality, such as best paper or Young Investigator Award
- Awards in competitive fellowships (AHA, NIH, HHMI, NRSA, CIDA) and grants as principal investigator or co-principal investigator
For the Research Mentor
Daily interaction between the research mentor and trainee is essential for both basic and clinical research training. The mentor should be an accomplished investigator with a sustained record of competitive research funding and an active research program.
In addition, the mentor should have a major responsibility for:
- supervising the trainee;
- providing assessment and constructive feedback; and
- documenting the trainee's research progress and performance.
Consequently, the research mentor must work in an environment with sufficient resources to offer trainees an enriching experience throughout fellowship.
Each trainee and mentor should establish research training goals that include quality of performance and mastery of information and technical methods relevant to the research. Progress in achieving these goals should be reviewed regularly by the research mentor, the research committee and the program director.
For the Training Environment
The research environment for training investigators must be comprehensive and include:
- Adequate funding of research is essential and should include appropriate institutional commitment for trainees' research training.
- A critical mass of productive researchers who can serve as mentors and professional colleagues to trainees is needed. Productive researchers who serve as mentors and professional colleagues to trainees are needed. Productive researchers can be defined by the number of publications in peer-reviewed journals, the quality of the journals in which research is published, frequency of citation of scientific work in the literature index and number of research fellows.
- One criterion for quality research training includes a broad curriculum with well-defined goals and objectives. Trainees should have educational experiences including formal course work applicable to their preparation for research careers unless this didactic experience has already occurred as part of a relevant doctorate or other advanced degree completed prior to internal medicine training.
Suggested core lectures or conference series in biomedical research should include the following:
- Critical interpretation of scientific literature
- Research methods, including design of hypothesis-driven experiments and their interpretation
- Data analysis and use of appropriate biostatistics and/or medical informatics
- Responsible use of informed consent
- Research ethics
- Monthly research conferences and literature review sessions (journal club)
- Monitoring patient-oriented research (protocol, data management, quality control, computer packages, clinical trials, FDA regulations, dissemination of information)
- Grant and manuscript writing, abstract presentation and communication skills
- Completion of research project or thesis