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Research Electives

A research elective involves a medical student working with a faculty member. Students who want to receive credit for research electives must be approved for the project at least two weeks prior to the start date of the experience. Proposed research electives must be reviewed and approved by the Assistant Dean for Curriculum before being added the student’s COM schedule. Students submit their research request via the “Submit Scheduling Request” tab on the Records & Registration Service Page.

Procedure for Scheduling Research Electives Heading link

  1. Write a Research Elective Proposal, describing the proposed research, your role in the research, specific activities and anticipated products of the research.
  2. Complete the Research Elective PDF Scheduling Form.
  3. Obtain a letter of endorsement from the Research Advisor. (Required if the PDF form is not signed.)
  4. If a student is requesting five or more credit hours, an hourly breakdown of all work is required. For example: 30 hours of work at a minimum is needed for each one week of credit, so for five weeks of anticipated credit you must show 150 or more hours of work being completed.
  5. Please submit all required documentation to the Student Scheduling Request.
  6. You will receive an email as to whether the research elective has been approved or not or if there is more documentation needed.
  7. Research electives are reviewed twice – prior to starting the work and at the conclusion of your research work.

Fundamental Requirements Heading link

Research electives in the M3/M4 years at UI COM can be designed to receive two through eight weeks of credit, with a maximum of eight weeks total. (Excludes MSTP.)

Research electives can be longitudinal in nature (the research may overlap with clinical experiences), however, at least two weeks of consecutive, unscheduled time must be set aside on the students’ schedule for the research electives that are four weeks or less. If a student is approved for five or more weeks of research, at least four weeks of consecutive, unscheduled time must be set aside on the students’ schedule. No other experiences may be scheduled concurrently during these dedicated research weeks. Credit for a single research elective cannot be split. All credits are registered at the same time in a single term.

The workload demanded by the research project should be appropriate for the number of hours of credit proposed. Research electives should be complementary to the student’s overall medical school experience and not to be used to supplant other clinical or educational experience.

  • If students are requesting five or more credit hours for a research elective, a detailed hourly breakdown must be provided with the request.

The demands necessary for a particular research project are unique to the project. Fundamental concepts and basic medical research should be addressed through the educational experience, lecture, discussion with faculty advisor, or active participation by the student during the rotation. The fundamental processes of medical research, which must be included in every research proposal, are as follows:

  1. Developing a hypothesis
  2. Literature review to evaluate uniqueness of proposed hypothesis or study
  3. A priori statistical analysis or power analysis for clinical studies
  4. Experimental design
  5. Obtaining and collecting data and avoiding bias
  6. Presenting raw data and statistical analysis and writing data in manuscript form
  7. Preparing or submitting for publication
  8. Ethics

While most of the student’s time will be spent on 2, 5, 7 and/or 8, all must be specifically addressed in the research proposal including the mechanism of how the student will be introduced to each facet of the research process unique to their project.

To be awarded credit for a research elective, the proposal must be submitted and approved in advance. Retrospective credit for work performed on an unapproved project will not be considered.

See the SAMPLE Research Elective Proposal to use as a guide in composing your proposal. Make sure to address all 8 fundamental processes listed.

Please note:

  • A single research project can only be placed on your schedule once. If you would like to request a credit increase for previously approved research project, please reopen your original service request. Your request should include your updated documentation. If you cannot locate the original ticket, please submit a new Student Scheduling Request. Please note in the description that the elective is already on your schedule.
  • Upon completion, a final summary, academic paper, abstract or presentation must be reviewed by the Assistant Dean for Curriculum to receive a final grade. This documentation is submitted to

Students are eligible for a total of 8 credits for research, including James Scholar Program participants per MD degree. MSTP students are the only exceptions as they are eligible for 12 research credits.

Upon Completion Heading link

Upon completion of the research experience:

  1. End of Research (EOR) documentation requires a full summary of what a student completed on the project. Please submit these documents to If requesting more than 4 weeks of credit, an abstract or summary paper that is ready for national publication must also be submitted. Once EOR is received in COM-REG, it will be forwarded to the Associate Dean of Curriculum for review.
  2. A completed assessment form must be received from the faculty member overseeing the research. Indicate below who should receive your assessment form.
  3. In addition, both the project summary/abstract description and assessment must be submitted in order for the student to receive credit for any research elective. Final credit hours will be determined upon review of these materials. Credit hours earned are based on productivity and quality of research and presentation and the faculty assessment.

*Please note, procedures are subject to change.