A large proportion of postgraduate students the world over complete a research thesis in partial fulfilment of their degree requirements. This study identified and evaluated support mechanisms for research generation and utilization for masters’ students in health institutions of higher learning in Uganda.
This was a self-administered cross-sectional survey using a modified self-assessment tool for research institutes (m-SATORI). Postgraduate students were randomly selected from four medical or public health Ugandan universities at Makerere, Mbarara, Nkozi and Mukono and asked to circle the most appropriate response on a Likert scale from 1, where the “situation was unfavourable and/or there was a need for an intervention”, to 5, where the “situation was good or needed no intervention”. These questions were asked under four domains: the research question; knowledge production, knowledge transfer and promoting use of evidence. Mean scores of individual questions and aggregate means under the four domains were computed and then compared to identify areas of strengths and gaps that required action.
Most of the respondents returned their questionnaires, 185 of 258 (71.7%), and only 79 of these (42.7%) had their theses submitted for examination. The majority of the respondents were male (57.3%), married or cohabiting (58.4%), and were medical doctors (71.9%) from Makerere University (50.3%). The domain
proposal development for postgraduate research projecthad the highest mean score of 3.53 out of the maximum 5. Three of the four domains scored below the mid-level domain score of 3, that is, the situation is neither favourable nor unfavourable. Areas requiring substantial improvements included priority-setting during research question identification, which had the lowest mean score of 2.12. This was followed by promoting use of postgraduate research products, tying at mean scores of 2.28 each. The domain knowledge transfer of postgraduate research productshad an above-average mean score of 2.75. Conclusions
This study reports that existing research support mechanisms for postgraduate students in Uganda encourage access to supervisors and mentors during proposal development. Postgraduate students’ engagement with research users was limited in priority-setting and knowledge transfer. Since supervisors and mentors views were not captured, future follow-on research could tackle this aspect.