Intended for healthcare professionals


How can I get involved in research as a medical student?

BMJ 2020; 370 doi: (Published 26 August 2020) Cite this as: BMJ 2020;370:m2586
  1. Laith Alexander, academic foundation doctor
  1. St Thomas’ Hospital, London, UK
  1. laith1.alexander{at}

Laith Alexander explains why you should think carefully about the type of research you want to become involved in and the reasons why you want to do it

At medical school you will find plenty of opportunities to get involved with research, and possibly have many reasons why you want to: passion about a topic, improving your CV, or an interest in understanding the scientific method. Paul Wilkinson, university senior lecturer and honorary consultant in child and adolescent psychiatry at the University of Cambridge, explains some of the benefits:

“An obvious benefit is that publications and conference presentations will boost your CV; and the research skills you learn will help you if you continue to do research. But the benefits are much more than that: you will develop an in-depth understanding of an area of interest; you will learn much better how to appraise the literature; you will have more appreciation of how difficult research is when you read papers, and not be over critical of researchers who cannot conduct the perfect study.”

As a student, you can intercalate a bachelors degree, carry out extra projects during medical student selected components (SSCs) or in your own time, or intercalate into a higher qualification such as a masters degree or PhD.

An intercalated bachelors degree might be your first taste of research

For many of you (myself included), carrying out a project during an intercalated bachelors degree year will be your first taste of research. This is your chance for an immersive experience. You will …

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