A Review of Research to Publication  
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Joseph Richard, MLIS  
Outreach Coordinator
Frank Ritchel Ames Memorial Library  
Rocky Vista University  

BMJ Research to Publication is an online program that resulted from a collaboration between the British Medical Journal and the University of California San Francisco School of Medicine. The purpose of this product is to provide students with a comprehensive starting point to develop an understanding of research methodologies and the publication process. The program offers hours of immersive and interactive content that can be used independently by students or integrated into the classrooms via graded modules.  

Content  

The program includes eight online courses and 52 modules covering each stage of the research and publication process. In addition, Research to Publication was designed with flexibility at the forefront. Every course has a different certificate of completion that empowers students to focus on areas that are important to them and enables faculty to assign courses that align with their course learning outcomes. Currently, the platform does not include an integrated faculty portal. Educators who want to incorporate the platform into their course will require students uploading a certificate of completion into their LMS course page.  

The intended audience is undergraduate and graduate level students who need to develop competencies in each stage of the research process. The platform is most suitable for pre-med or medical students who are publishing in medicine, health care, public health, and epidemiology.  

Features/Functionality  

BMJ Research to Publication is available online and is divided into eight courses with 52 modules. The number of modules in each course varies depending on the subject being covered. For instance, the “How to develop and report good research questions” course contains two modules and “The essentials of running a clinical trial” course contains 12 modules. Furthermore, the number of assignments, activities, and exercises in each module varies.  

Each course contains an overview page with learning outcomes, information on the modules, activities, how the assessment is being delivered, and the suggested time to complete the course. Each module provides information about the author and their credentials found within the “Written By” and “About the authors” sections. The modules have been created by professors from UCSF and researchers/editors from BMJ.  

Before accessing the courses, students must create their own personal accounts. Once a student accesses a course and begins a module, they will be instructed to watch a video lecture or read an overview. The modules from USCF faculty are primarily video while the modules from BMJ are written overviews. The recorded lectures include subtitles in English, French, and Chinese, and students can increase the playback speed. The written overviews are only in English.  

In addition to the video, students will be instructed to complete assignments. Not all modules contain assignments; sometimes assignments are called “activities.” Assignments will require students to answer a writing prompt. For instance, in the “Developing a good research question” module, students are prompted to provide a detailed explanation that summarizes the significance of their research.  

Students will then complete exercises. Students are provided a specific question and instructed to write down their answer. In contrast to the assignments, exercises provide model answers for each question. Occasionally, exercises will include non-interactive Q&A prompts. Both the assignments and exercises do not include in-site/interactive text boxes to record answers.  

Optional reading assignments are available for exercises, but access will vary depending on your university’s subscriptions. At the end of each module, students will be required to complete and pass (80% or higher) an online/interactive assessment.  

Navigating Research to Publication’s course pages and modules is straightforward and students will be able to browse a list of available courses. However, the program does not include a search engine. In addition, students can use the sidebar within each module to navigate to different areas they want to review.  

While Research to Publication excels in many areas, a few features need to be improved. As mentioned above, the way content is offered, named, and organized in each module can vary. For instance, modules created by USCF have exercises and modules created by BMJ have activities. Furthermore, USCF editors use video lectures and BMJ editors use written overviews. It would be helpful if the program retained consistent language, multi-media, and organization throughout. The program could benefit from embedded text-to-speech and language options, especially for written overviews. Currently, the program does not support link resolving, which would be helpful for students who want to see if the optional reading is available at their library. Finally, there needs to be better support for EZproxy. Our users were unable to successfully create profiles via EZproxy from off campus without hitting a paywall after creating said profiles. BMJ support recommended that we use access codes instead of IP authentication or EZproxy. The support team did provide workarounds, but our library team determined the workarounds would be cumbersome and cause confusion for our users. Ultimately, providing access codes to our users was the easiest method for them to access the platform. BMJ initially created 100 access codes that FRAML’s librarians emailed to our community as part of our “New Database Spotlight.” Additional access codes can be created upon request.  

Business Model  

Research to Publication is available as a yearly subscription and the price is based on the total number of enrolled students at the university. Research to Publication offers subscription access to institutions and funders. Subscribing institutions can set up access through EZproxy (see our explanation above), on-campus IP authentication, or with access codes from BMJ. Users must create a personal profile to access the course modules. Personal profiles must be linked to the subscribing institution. Usage data is available upon request. User data is categorized in the following manner: registered users, active users (started), active users (completed), and non-engaged users. Content usage data is categorized in the following manner: course name, modules, and started/completed.  

Breakthrough  

Our library team is small and serves three geographically distinct campuses of students with varying degrees of research experience. As our community continues to grow, so has the number of students who are interested in undergoing research. In the past, we have been able to work with individual students to guide them through the entirety of the process. However, that is no longer always the case. Our decision to collaborate with the Office of Research and Scholarly Activity to provide access to the program was a no-brainer. Research to Publication has provided the library with the ability to provide students the tools necessary to develop an understanding of research methodologies and the publication process. Furthermore, the program has eased the time constraints and lengthy research consultations our team faced by providing students with self-paced courses. 

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