The MRVP is a program built around the student volunteers, as such, they are key to this program. Students’ cooperation and adherence to the instructions given to them is vital to the success of the program. Although each research project may be governed by its own specific set of rules based on the nature of the research, there are certain guidelines that everyone participating in the MRVP should follow.
The MRVP is fully dependant on the commitment of the students. It is important that student volunteers are willing to invest time and effort into the program. Although a major part of being committed is designating time for the MRVP, commitment is also manifested in the seriousness with which participants approach research projects and the quality of the work they provide. It is the students’ responsibility to ensure that they complete any tasks given to them to the best of their ability. Students must conform to any deadline agreed upon with the research team. It is crucial to note that commitment to the MRVP should not be at the expense of the students’ academic commitment and performance.
Volunteers must attend all relevant meetings pertaining to their research team unless they have a valid excuse for being absent. Participants must also abide by the work schedules that they committed to. In the case that a student must miss a meeting or a scheduled day of work, the student must inform the pertinent person beforehand.
Since the MRVP gives students an opportunity to take an active role in research, it is imperative that students adhere to the highest standards of research ethics. Research ethics is based on ethical principles such as the confidentiality of patient information, research methodology, results obtained, or any other aspect related the research project. Many student volunteers in the MRVP will have access to patients’ personal information, which may be sensitive. Therefore, all MRVP volunteers are ethically required to keep this information confidential. Moreover, research methodology and obtained results are the intellectual property of the research team. The volunteers will be entrusted with this scientific material. Therefore, it is strictly forbidden that this information be shared or discussed with anyone outside the research team, until the work has been published.
The work of the volunteers should meet the highest standards of research. As such, it is required that data be handled and documented with extreme care and precision. In addition, some research might involve the use of delicate equipment, which should be used with extreme care. Cleanliness of the work space is also important, and should be maintained by the volunteers at all times.
Being transparent is crucial for a productive and educational outcome. Thus, volunteers are expected to be transparent regarding all aspects of their work as a research volunteer. As MRVP is an educational process for undergraduate students, it is expected that volunteers may not possess the required expertise or knowledge for specific research aspects. Therefore, volunteers should be forward about their specific knowledge and expertise pertaining to assigned tasks. Another point to be highlighted is that mistakes, problems, shortcomings, and other issues may take place in research. It is understandable that volunteers may encounter such issues, which will be addressed by the research team in the best manner. It is important for volunteers to report when they encounter any of the above. Nevertheless, if such issues occur frequently with the volunteer, the tasks allocated to the volunteer might be modified accordingly.
The Collaborative Institutional Training Initiative (CITI Program) was founded at the University of Miami in the year 2000. They offer an online mini-course on biomedical research ethics. All MRVP participants are required to become certified in biomedical research ethics. The online module is not long and will only take a couple of hours to complete. By making CITI certification mandatory for all participants, the MRVP committee can ensure that all students have a sufficient grasp of their ethical obligations. It is important to note that CITI certifications expire after a one year period. It is necessary that every participant be certified for the entire duration of the time that he or she wishes to volunteer for.
The MRVP is overseen by the committee previously described, and thus, it is the responsibility of the student to comply with the rules and regulations set by the MRVP committee.
Just as there are responsibilities from the students, they are entitled to many rights which are highlighted below:
The MRVP is designed to be a learning experience for students. As such, they have the right to benefit from this program. Students will be in a setting in which they should develop their knowledge, research expertise, as well as their understanding of research. Students should be learning new things about the field they are researching in and the scientific method in general. If students feel that they are not in a research setting that is conducive for learning and developing new skills, students have the right to bring this to the attention of the MRVP committee.
All of the participating volunteers have the right to learn in an environment that does not pressure them.
The student volunteers have the right to be acknowledged for the work that they have done. There are two types of acknowledgments: acknowledgement by the researcher through evaluation and a letter of recommendation, and acknowledgment from the MRVP through a certificate. In cases of substantial contribution to the research project, the volunteers are expected to be included as a co-author on the publication of the work. Details regarding co-authorship should be discussed between the volunteer and the faculty member.
One of the major benefits of the MRVP is that students get to build relationships with faculty members from various professions. Every student has the right to communicate directly with the faculty member they have been assigned to.
In the event that any conflict should arise between faculty members and the students that have been matched with them, the MRVP committee should be notified regardless of the nature of the conflict. Students can bring conflicts to the committee’s attention by emailing a designated committee member. Once the committee has been informed of any conflict, it will propose a solution that takes into consideration the interests of both the students and the researchers.
The success of the MRVP is also dependant on the faculty members’ involvement in the program. Despite their busy schedule and multiple tasks at hand, the faculty members are expected to provide a scientific research environment for the students to expand their horizons. Following are some general guidelines that might help in achieving the main goals of MRVP.
The MRVP student volunteers are undergraduate students, many of whom are being exposed to research for the first time through the program. Thus, it is the responsibility of the faculty member to allocate suitable tasks for each student based on their skills, expertise, interests, and background. Moreover, students’ agreement to the allocated task is very important for the success of the program.
The faculty members are expected to take the role of a mentor to the students, which is crucial to accomplish the mission of the MRVP. Since the MRVP is primarily an educational opportunity for the students, it is important for the faculty members to facilitate this learning process. This includes being available for the students at different times to provide supervision, guidance, and support.
Providing support on a specific research project, the students are entitled to receive credit for the work they have done. Thus, it is the responsibility of the faculty member to appropriately acknowledge the contribution given by the student working on their project. This could be in many forms, such as: letter of acknowledgment, a letter of recommendation, or any other form that serves the point.
The MRVP is overseen by the committee previously described, and thus, it is the responsibility of the faculty member to respect the rules and regulations set by the MRVP committee.
Just as there are responsibilities for the faculty member, there are also rights they are entitled to. Most of these rights are mainly the responsibilities of the students previously mentioned. The following are few points to be highlighted.
The faculty member has the right to have their tasks completed to the highest standards of professionalism. This includes accuracy in the work done, professionalism in the different aspects of the work, as well as maintaining the confidentiality of the various aspects of the research project.
It’s the faculty member’s right to end the agreement with the MRVP student. If the need arises, the faculty member needs to address a letter to the MRVP committee explaining the reasons behind this decision.