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Scholarly Project

The Scholarly Project (SP) Course was designed to provide medical students the opportunity to become engaged in hypothesis-driven research to promote analytical thinking skills and ultimately, physician leaders. The aim of the course is to expose students to the process of scientific inquiry, teaching them how to formulate an answerable question and the requisite methodology in seeking appropriate answers.

Each student undertakes a faculty mentored research project in a discipline of his or her choice. Viable disciplines encompass a wide spectrum to include: biomedical research, from discovery to application, and healthcare, i.e., basic science, clinical, educational, behavioral science, health services, community and epidemiological activities. The SP is interwoven with the curriculum, which includes didactic instruction on topics such as study design and biostatistics.

Requirements of all Scholarly Projects

The following criteria must be met for student work to satisfy the Scholarly Project requirement:

  1. Students must document adequate work effort and sufficient contribution to any scholarly product to receive credit, even when working in groups.
  2. Scholarly projects must reflect adequate disciplinary rigor, i.e., there must be clear goals, adequate preparation, and evidence of the application of appropriate methods to ensure significant results.
  3. Results must be communicated effectively to the intended audiences in the broader community, particularly by presenting at the KSOM Medical Student Research Forum (each student must present their own poster).

We encourage students performing biomedical research to participate in rigorous hypothesis-driven research where possible. Most literature reviews and all case reports are not acceptable formats for the Scholarly Project. A rigorously performed systematic review that adheres to guidelines and is done with an experienced team preferably including a research librarian may be considered on a case-by-case basis. Scholarly Projects performed in the context of the Senior Seminars need to adhere to the domain-specific guidelines approved by the Medical Student Research Committee. If you have any questions about the acceptability of a project, please contact Dr. Riddell ( prior to starting.

Scholarly Project Requirements for Class of 2025

Students need to attend their final required session during Intersession II (November). At that time students will notify the Curriculum Office of the current status of their scholarly project. Students who completed a mentored research project (that meets Scholarly Project criteria, i.e. not a case report, etc) that started after matriculation to Keck and have presented at the Medical Student Research Forum will have met the requirement. While presentation at an outside conference is outstanding, all students must also present at the Keck Medical Student Research Forum.

Students who have done research that meets the Scholarly Project criteria but have not presented at the Medical Student Research Forum can present this coming spring semester or the spring semester before graduating.  Once they present at the forum we will send their mentor an evaluation and the student will have met the requirement.

Students who have not done research that meets the Scholarly Project criteria can do any research project that meets criteria. The research administrators can support the students in finding a mentored research project within their chosen clinical area or within the domain of their Senior Seminar. These students can then perform the research work during the post-clerkship phase and  present their work at the Medical Student Research Forum in the spring prior to graduation.

Scholarly Project Requirements for Class of 2026 and 2027

Students need to attend the scheduled required sessions, complete CITI training, and do a mentored research project that meets the requirements of the Scholarly Project at any time during their tenure at Keck. They are required to present their work at the Medical Student Research Forum and receive an evaluation from their mentor to meet the requirement.

Links to Scholarly Project Pages:


At the end of the Scholarly Project curriculum, students will be able to:

  1. Identify a gap in knowledge by assessing available, sufficient, and credible information around an area of interest.
  2. Formulate a research question and develop a testable hypothesis.
  3. Select an appropriate research design to address a hypothesis.
  4. Describe appropriate statistical analyses to measure outcomes.
  5. Develop a study protocol using a standard template.

At the end of this course, students will be able to:

  1. Collect and/or analyze data in collaboration with a mentor and/or research team.
  2. Interpret study findings and assess whether the data tests the hypothesis.

Ethical Conduct
At the end of this course, students will be able to:

  1. Demonstrate competency in the knowledge of research ethics and the protection of human subjects or animal subjects where applicable.
  2. Conduct research and report research findings with honesty and integrity.
  3. Interpret accepted guidelines for authorship of scientific manuscripts.

At the end of this course, students will be able to:

  1. Communicate study findings clearly and accurately in writing.
  2. Communicate study findings clearly and concisely via oral presentation

The course is organized around four phases of the students’ research journey:

Essentials: Students are exposed to the foundational elements of the scientific research process.

Exploration: Students seek research mentors and begin to scrutinize research questions and hypotheses.

Elaboration: Students clarify their research proposals with their mentors.

Execution: Students immerse themselves in their projects and present their findings to their colleagues.

Code of Professional Behavior

Plagiarism is a serious violation of academic and professional ethics. It is defined as the use of another individual’s words and/ or ideas as one’s own. All research reports, manuscripts, etc. must be the students’ original work. It is the students’ responsibility to cite their research accurately and appropriately.

Honesty, integrity, respect, responsibility, reliability and accountability are all aspects of professional behavior to which students will be held accountable at the highest standards.

Students will not seek, by action or implication, oral or otherwise, to create an incorrect impression of their abilities or to create an unfair advantage over their colleagues.

Students will not tolerate or support unethical behavior in their colleagues and will report such behavior when it occurs through established procedures as detailed in the Student Handbook.

Students are held accountable to policies and procedures of the school and its associated clinical sites including, but not limited to evaluations, charting, and documentation requirements.

*Students in violation of the Code of Professional Behavior will be asked to appear before the Student Performance Committee for review

Jeffrey Riddell, MD
Director of Medical Student Research

Questions? Please contact:
Fiaba Zakarian
Medical Student Research Advisor

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