Student-staff partnership overcomes pandemic challenges in research: Establishment of a remote research programme


  • Carol Rizkalla RCSI medical student
  • Katia Yajji RCSI University of Medicine and Health Sciences
  • Celine Marmion RCSI University of Medicine and Health Sciences


In light of the unfortunate circumstances of the COVID-19 pandemic, the RCSI University of Medicine and Health Sciences highly successful Research Summer School 2020 was cancelled to adhere to public health guidelines.  This cancellation of the Summer School, while unavoidable in light of the impact of the pandemic, was nevertheless a significant setback for undergraduate students wishing to pursue research.

The RCSI Research Skills Society (RSS) took the initiative to create, develop and launch a Remote Research Programme that would enlist principal investigators (PIs) with available projects and students interested in contributing to these projects remotely. The application process and selection criteria were deliberated to ensure a fair, blinded, and robust selection process. Applicants had the opportunity to read project descriptions before applying with their curriculum vitae (CV) via Google Forms. After setting the limit at 120 applications, all applicant slots were filled within two minutes of opening the application portal. The successful partnership between PIs and student research assistants resulted in 25 PIs enlisting 30 projects, with 45 successful applicants matched to these projects. Many of these projects were successfully published in academic journals such as The Journal for Wound Care, BMC Proceedings, and Journal of Personalised Medicine.

A combination of students’ active engagement, co-creation of partnerships with PIs, and the support of key partners within the RCSI community were responsible for allowing the programme to be highly successful. The success of this project may have implications for the future in continuing to foster other remote research programmes to take place in order to increase accessibility to research projects.  

Keywords: Collaboration; Innovation; International; Networking; Research; Student engagement; Student partnership.