Raising Students’ Awareness of Research Activities and Opportunities

A recent survey gives NUHS food for thought regarding how to generate more student interest and participation in on-campus research.

By Gregory Roytman

Chiropractic educational research is a long-standing, important practice for improving the quality of education in our degree programs.1 Additionally, chiropractic research related to techniques and patient outcomes can have meaningful contributions not only for patients and the profession, but also for students learning current best practices.2, 3 This has been demonstrated through the development of student research in many other healthcare professions.4  However, not much is known about how much prospective and current students are aware of this body of research, including how it informs their choice of a career in chiropractic and a specific program, or how it impacts their education and influences their career paths.

Educational Research About Research Education

Over the past year and a half, National University of Health Sciences (NUHS) has given surveys to trimester 8 (of 10) students. These students have passed their basic and clinical sciences education and have just started clinic. Students are given a short survey with both closed and open-ended questions to gauge their awareness of what research is occurring on campus. The questions assess not only their awareness of research taking place at our campus, but also past research that NUHS has performed and helpful avenues where we can showcase our research findings and opportunities to perform research. We also ask students whether research was a deciding factor in their choice of NUHS, whether they are familiar with alumni publications, and if they know how they themselves might get involved with research at school.

While data collection is still in progress, initial results suggest that we need to focus on updating our methods of communication in order to meet students where they are, with the types of media and content they consume. This has important implications in respect to how we communicate research and student opportunities in research to current and prospective students.

While data collection is still in progress, initial results suggest that we need to focus on updating our methods of communication in order to meet students where they are, with the types of media and content they consume.

Why Awareness of Research Is Important for Students

The benefits we can glean from understanding students’ awareness of research on campus are many. Knowing more may inspire students to participate in research by working on various projects, which both increases their capacity for understanding where the “evidence” in “evidence-based practice” truly comes from and enhances their critical appraisal skills. These skills along with awareness of the importance of research may increase their research engagement as they transition into practice as consumers of the literature, case report contributors, or participants in practice-based research networks. 4

Students might feel pride that their school is contributing to the advancement of the chiropractic profession by contributing scientifically to the literature. After all, once we discover new information, we can make clinical decisions that help us to better serve patients. When students are more aware of how they can contribute, it democratizes this system and allows everyone to learn best evidence-based practices and contribute ideas. 5

Although at NUHS we like to wait until students are about halfway through their basic sciences coursework before we recruit them to perform research, we think lighting the spark and communicating research early on by getting students familiar with research helps them succeed as students and later as practitioners. From the start, they see knowledge not as something static, but something that is continuously changing.

In the comments below, please comment on how your school shares its current research
and what opportunities exist for students to become involved.

Gregory Roytman is a student at National University of Health Sciences in Lombard, Ill. He started in 2017 as a research assistant with Dr. Gregory Cramer DC, PhD, working on literature reviews and a student research awareness project. In 2018, Greg became Research Fellow for Dr. Cramer, working on a palpation project and data analysis. He will graduate in December 2019 and has plans to practice in Round Lake, Ill.


1. Sullivan BM, Wolcott CC, Ashley LE, Cambron JA, Cramer GD. Implementing an evidence based journal club in a complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) university.  Association of Chiropractic Colleges Educational Conference XV Research Agenda Conference XIII2008.

2. Cramer G, Budgell B, Henderson C, Khalsa P, Pickar J. Basic science research related to chiropractic spinal adjusting: the state of the art and recommendations revisited. J Manipulative Physiol Ther. 2006;29:726-61.

3. Cramer SC. Editorial comment–Implementing results of stroke recovery research into clinical practice. Stroke. 2003;34:1752-3.

4. Mabvuure NT. Twelve tips for introducing students to research and publishing: a medical student’s perspective. Med Teach. 2012;34:705-9.

5. Smeesters PR, Deghorain M, Steer AC. Science that “knows” and science that “asks”. J Transl Med. 2011;9:128.