Content analysis of the South African MMed mini-dissertation

E S Grossman


Background. There is no baseline information on the South African (SA) MMed mini-dissertation, which became a compulsory (and controversial) research component for specialist registration in 2011.

Objective. To obtain evidence-based information regarding the current composition of the research output of the MMed mini-dissertation.

Methods. SA MMed mini-dissertations (N=307) were downloaded from electronic theses and dissertation websites and 8 university repositories that provide specialist training. Fourteen variables were noted for each mini-dissertation, the data were entered into an Excel (2016) (Microsoft, USA) spreadsheet and analysed using descriptive statistics.

Results. The 307 mini-dissertations, representing 24 of the Colleges of Medicine of SA, were submitted from 1996 to 2018, mainly in monograph format (76%) and almost equally divided between prospective and retrospective studies. Observational studies predominated, with meta-analyses, systematic reviews and randomised controlled trials comprising 5% of the sample. Although quantitative investigations dominated (82%), just less than half of these used statistics to test variables. Confirmed ethical compliance improved from 41% in pre-2011 dissertations to 83% for dissertations submitted during 2015 - 2018.

Conclusions. This study provides descriptive data on the SA MMed mini-dissertation. Comparisons indicate that the MMed research component compares favourably with the content and research approach of similar international specialist trainee research outputs.

Author's affiliations

E S Grossman, East London and Port Elizabeth Health Resource Centres, Faculty of Health Sciences, Walter Sisulu University, Eastern Cape Province, South Africa

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Specialist registrar; Trainee; Resident; Master's research; Dissertation content; Thesis; Retrospective; Statistics; Qualitative; Ethics approval

Cite this article

African Journal of Health Professions Education 2020;12(2):56-61. DOI:10.7196/AJHPE.2020.v12i2.1227

Article History

Date submitted: 2020-07-07
Date published: 2020-07-07

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