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ORIGINAL ARTICLE
Year : 2017  |  Volume : 15  |  Issue : 2  |  Page : 157-161

Attitudes, experiences, and barriers to research and publishing among dental postgraduate students of Bengaluru City: A cross-sectional study


Department of Public Health Dentistry, Dayananda Sagar College of Dental Sciences, Bengaluru, Karnataka, India

Date of Web Publication13-Jun-2017

Correspondence Address:
Aditi Hegde
Department of Public Health Dentistry, Dayananda Sagar College of Dental Sciences, Shavige Malleswara Hills, Kumaraswamy Layout, Bengaluru - 560 078, Karnataka
India
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None


DOI: 10.4103/jiaphd.jiaphd_11_17

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  Abstract 

Background: Research experience not only enhances understanding but also instills evidence-based practice and improves skills. A natural successor to research is academic publishing. Unfortunately, student research itself is plagued by a number of barriers. Aim: To identify the attitudes, experiences, and barriers to research and publishing among dental postgraduate students of Bangalore city. Materials and Methods: A cross-sectional survey using purposive sampling technique was conducted among the dental postgraduate students of all specialties in Bengaluru city in the months of July–August 2015. A prevalidated, close-ended, self-administered questionnaire consisting of 26 questions was used. Data from 638 completed questionnaires were entered into and analyzed using Microsoft Excel 2013 and SPSS software version 14. Results: The majority of the students displayed a positive attitude towards research and stated that they would like more opportunities to take part in research (89%). Most students were positive toward publishing research; 94% agreed that it is important to publish, although only 43.7% had submitted an article for publication. The single most often stated barrier to conducting research was a lack of funding from the institution (15.7%), followed by workload and time constraints (15.0%). Lack of training and good mentorship was the most often (23.3%) faced barrier to publishing, along with high publication fee for indexed journals (17.9%). Conclusion: Dental postgraduate students show an urge to conduct research and publish their results. Research-related workshops for teachers and students are suggestions for improving the status of research in dental colleges.

Keywords: Dental education, dental research, publishing, questionnaire, surveys


How to cite this article:
Hegde A, Venkataramana G, Kulkarni SB, Bhaskar NN, Jacob J, Gangadharappa SK. Attitudes, experiences, and barriers to research and publishing among dental postgraduate students of Bengaluru City: A cross-sectional study. J Indian Assoc Public Health Dent 2017;15:157-61

How to cite this URL:
Hegde A, Venkataramana G, Kulkarni SB, Bhaskar NN, Jacob J, Gangadharappa SK. Attitudes, experiences, and barriers to research and publishing among dental postgraduate students of Bengaluru City: A cross-sectional study. J Indian Assoc Public Health Dent [serial online] 2017 [cited 2019 May 25];15:157-61. Available from: http://www.jiaphd.org/text.asp?2017/15/2/157/207907


  Introduction Top


Creative work that is undertaken on a systematic basis, with the purpose of increasing knowledge, and to devise new applications is known as research.[1] It has several uses ranging from establishing scientific statements to solving new or existing issues.[2] A lack of attention to research from government and the educated community creates a knowledge gap among community members, as well as the world at large.[3] Some of the most influential factors impacting the research process are attitude to, experience in, and barriers toward research.[4] A natural successor to research is academic publishing, which describes a system that is necessary in order for academic scholars to peer review the work while making it available to a wider audience.[2]

Studies on dental students' attitudes, experiences and barriers related to research and publishing are meager, and the few assessments documented in literature are limited to a small population. In particular, results from one large-scale survey in India suggest that meager college funding, lack of time, and insufficient infrastructure pose substantial barriers to student participation in research.[5]

A study was undertaken with the aim of assessing the attitudes, experiences, and barriers to research and publishing among the dental postgraduate students of Bengaluru city.


  Materials and Methods Top


A cross-sectional survey was conducted on 2nd and 3rd year postgraduate students of all specialties from all dental colleges in Bengaluru city that offered postgraduation. Ethical clearance was obtained from the Institutional Review Board.

The sampling frame consisted of 930 2nd- and 3rd-year dental postgraduate students of Bengaluru city. Purposive total sampling technique was used.[6] A closed-ended, self-administered questionnaire comprising 26 previously validated questions was used.[7] It consisted of three questions about demography such as gender, year of study and department of study, as well as twenty-three questions on attitude, experiences, and barriers. Twelve of the questions pertaining to the latter were based on a two-point scale. Meanwhile, multiple responses could be given for eleven questions, wherein the participant was free to choose one or more answers from the given options. Overall, thirteen questions were research related, and ten questions enquired about the publishing practices.

Institutions that offered postgraduate education; only the students present in college on the day of data collection were included. Those students who have not conducted or participated in research were excluded from the study.

Based on the inclusion criteria, the final sample consisted of 652 students from 15 dental colleges from whom data were collected from June 2015 to August 2015. Permission was acquired from the respective Head of the Institution before approaching the students. Postgraduate students were approached personally and explained the nature of the study. All participation was voluntary, and informed consent was obtained before distribution. The students were given ample time to answer the questionnaire, after which the questionnaires were collected. Fourteen respondents returned incomplete questionnaires; these were excluded from the analysis. Only the completed questionnaires 638 (97.85%) were coded, and the data were entered into Microsoft Excel 2013. Microsoft Excel and Statistical Package for Social Sciences version 14 (IBM; Chicago, Illnois) were used for descriptive analysis of the data, following which the results were tabulated, and P< 0.05 was considered as statistically significant.


  Results Top


The study population of 638 postgraduate students was divided into 2nd or 3rd year based on their year of study as 46% and 54%, respectively. The gender- and department-wise distribution of participants are displayed in [Figure 1] and [Figure 2], respectively.
Figure 1: Distribution of study participants based on year of study and gender

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Figure 2: Distribution of participants according to department

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Most students had a positive attitude toward research. About 92% of the participants agreed that they are judged professionally on the basis of performing research and submitting papers. A similar majority (94%) agreed that it is important to publish the results of their research project. Close to 89% of the participants said that they would like more opportunities for research [Table 1].
Table 1: Response of study participants to research related questions

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Only students who had begun a research project were included in this study. Most students (69%) had experienced the procedure of applying to an ethical committee for a project. About 95% felt that training was a must for writing an abstract or paper, yet only 74% had received training about the same. While most of them (56.3%) had not submitted an article for publishing, 43.7% respondents had. Out of those who had submitted an article for publication, 52.7% stated their main motivation was all of the following – career progression, improvement of academics, to relay information and personal interest [Figure 3]. Those who said they had not published were then questioned as to why they had not. About 34.5% said it was due to lack of time due to other commitments. A smaller number, 23.7% said they had not had the opportunity to complete their research. A number of people (17.3%) gave multiple responses, with 11.7% stating that there was a lack of time and they did not know how to write an article [Figure 4].
Figure 3: Main motivation of study participants to consider publication

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Figure 4: Reason for not publishing among study participants

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The postgraduate students were asked for what they felt were the most common barriers that one might face while undertaking research. The majority of participants, 54.6%, gave multiple responses, with the most common choice being a combination of workload and lack of funding (29.3%), with the lack of workforce to support the investigator and workload and time constraints being the second most common combination (23.3%) [Figure 5]. The students were also asked what they felt were the most common barriers one might face in the process of publishing. Lack of training and good mentorship was the most often (23.3%) faced barrier, along with high publication fee for indexed journals (17.9%). One hundred and thirteen students (40.5%) gave multiple responses, the combinations that were most favored being a lack of training and good mentorship and high publication fee (17.9%) [Figure 6].
Figure 5: Barriers to research according to study participants

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Figure 6: Barriers to publishing according to study participants

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Suggestions to improve the status of research in dental colleges

Research-related workshops for students and faculty (38.9%) were the most commonly suggested besides incentives for students (30.1%) and increase research funding (19.9%). Compulsory publication under the curriculum was least suggested (11.1%) [Figure 7].
Figure 7: Participants' suggestions for improving the status of research and publishing

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  Discussion Top


The student population in this cross-sectional study comprised a diverse group of people from all over the country. Six hundred and thirty-eight students were included in the final sample and classified according to gender and year of study. The majority of the participants in both 2nd and 3rd year were females. Similar demographic distribution was obtained by Sharma et al.[8] among 210 dental postgraduate students of Bengaluru city. Another survey on barriers to dental research included a much larger sample of 1514 dental postgraduate students and BDS staff members.[5]

Most of the participants thought that they are judged professionally on the basis of performing and publishing research. The findings of the present study are comparable with the results obtained by Srinivasan et al., wherein 94.7% of the study group agreed that it was important to publish a paper.[7] Similarly, Grossman and Naidoo found that the importance of research in dentistry was well recognized by students.[9] The results indicate that the majority of the postgraduate student population included in this study felt that research work and publishing are necessary for a strong professional resume. The reasons for this could be increased awareness of research, strengthening of curriculum vitae, personal interest, etc.

When it came to writing a paper, the majority of the respondents in our study had been taught how to write an abstract or paper and almost all the participants in the present study expressed the importance of being trained to write an abstract or paper. Our study found that training had been given to a far greater number than those described by Srinivasan et al. (55.3%)[7] and Aslam et al. (32.7%).[10] As per the 2007 modifications to the MDS curriculum by Dental Council of India, publications are mandatory to become a postgraduate teacher in a dental college.[11] This has been crucial to the vast strides made in postgraduate research in recent times. Mandatory research for teaching posts, international opportunities and has ensured that students are more enthusiastic about both, pursuing research activities, as well as publishing their findings.[12],[13]

Considering the barriers specific to conducting research, some participants believed lack of funding from the institution was the single biggest barrier while a few others stated it was workload and time constraints. Shirahatti et al. have also identified the inadequacy of the present curriculum to provide adequate time to carry out research activities as an area that students find challenging.[14] Dental postgraduate students face a didactic curriculum combined with active clinical participation and are involved in various departmental and institutional activities.[15] It is, therefore, completely plausible that students find themselves lacking time to dedicate to research.

Less than half of the students had submitted an article for publication, significantly less than in previous studies.[5],[7] This observed difference in publishing status may be due to the inherent differences in the populations investigated in each study, as most of the students in our study were still in the process of conducting research. Of those who had submitted an article for publication, majority of the students stated their main motivation were: career progression, improvement of academics, to relay information, and personal interest. For most of the participants in our study, a number of factors influence their own decision to publish a paper. Nowadays, a positive publishing status is highly appreciated, which has led to increased interest in research among students.[13]

Lack of time due to other commitments seems to be the most common reason for poor publishing activity. Strong support from the college and department will help address this issue. Almost one-fourth of the students said they had not yet had the opportunity to complete their research, which could be explained by the fact that most students begin their research projects within a few months of starting 2nd year, and had not yet had enough time to complete it. Training in writing an article can help others who have been unable to publish, in spite of completing a research project. It can thus be inferred that while publishing of postgraduate research is encouraged to a certain degree, the participants still feel that the lack of mentorship and poor financial conditions are major obstacles.

As their suggestions for improving research activity of dental postgraduate institutions, research-related workshops for students and faculty was suggested by most students, besides financial support for students and teachers. The study of Unnikrishnan et al. had yielded similar results in the past.[16] Workshops and programs committed to research methodology, biostatistics, and paper publishing can be the most important tool to resolve the issues faced by Indian dental postgraduate students. Research grants offered to the participants, and their mentors will greatly encourage participation in the future along with easing the financial burden on dental postgraduate students.

The overall findings of our study suggest that dental postgraduate students possess a positive attitude to research and look forward to more opportunities. Most of the participants had either already partaken in research or were in the process of conducting a study, with most of them being aware of the importance of publishing status. Yet, there are still numerous barriers they faced in the process of performing research and publishing the results. The results of the present study give us an indication about the attitudes and experiences of postgraduate students toward research and publishing, as well as the barriers they may face in the process of doing so.

The present study was subject to a few limitations. This study followed a descriptive questionnaire study design and is thus accompanied by the inherent flaws of the survey method. For example, if the respondents grow tired of responding to questions, they may lose track and fail to select the most accurate option.

While time management is another essential skill that a postgraduate student must acquire, modification of the curriculum to better accommodate research programs and activities can facilitate increased participation in research. This study has identified the attitudes, experiences, and barriers toward research and publishing of dental postgraduate students of Bengaluru city, and there is scope for future studies. Researchers can employ a qualitative design to gain deeper insight into the research and publishing experiences of dental postgraduate students. Studies can also be conducted to assess the effectiveness of interventions designed to address the barriers faced by dental postgraduate students.


  Conclusion Top


Almost, all the dental postgraduate students of Bengaluru city have a positive attitude to research, with most of them looking forward to increasing their participation. They believe in the importance of research and publishing, and also express the need for training pertaining to writing an abstract or paper. A considerable number of students are involved in publishing. Nevertheless, there is a multitude of barriers hindering dental postgraduate research and publishing.

Acknowledgments

The authors would like to thank the Heads of the Institutions for allowing the study to be conducted and the participants for their valuable time.

Financial support and sponsorship

Nil.

Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.

 
  References Top

1.
Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. Frascati Manual 2002: Proposed Standard Practice for Surveys on Research and Experimental Development. 6th ed. Paris: OECD Publishing; 2002. Available from: http://www.oecd.org/sti/frascatimanual. [Last accessed on 2016 Nov 07].  Back to cited text no. 1
    
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7.
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8.
Sharma N, Pramila M, Krishnamurthy A, Umashankar GK, Ranganath, Ahuja N. Knowledge, attitude, and practices in research among postgraduate students in dental institutions in Bengaluru City, India. J Indian Assoc Public Health Dent 2014;12:189-93.  Back to cited text no. 8
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Dental Council of India. Revised MDS Course Regulations; 2007. Available from: http://www.dciindia.org.in/Rule_Regulation/MDS_Course_Regulations_2007_alongwith_Amendments.pdf. [Last accessed on 2015 Dec 29].  Back to cited text no. 11
    
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Shirahatti RV, Sura S, Sumanthprasad GR, Khurana L. Dental students research inventory: A questionnaire to assess research challenges and opportunities. J Dent Educ 2010;74:1308-18.  Back to cited text no. 14
    
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    Figures

  [Figure 1], [Figure 2], [Figure 3], [Figure 4], [Figure 5], [Figure 6], [Figure 7]
 
 
    Tables

  [Table 1]


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