off record
Shaukat Ali Jawaid


Research Methodology
workshops by the CPSP


During the month of February and March 2017 I have conducted six workshops on Medical Writing at various medical institutions in Multan and Peshawar. The participants included not only the postgraduates but junior and some senior faculty members as well. During these workshops interactive discussion is encouraged and some Hands on Exercises also form part of the programme. At the end of the workshop, the participants are also requested to fill up the Feed Back From, they have the option to write their name or leave it. It is emphasized that they should give their honest feedback which helps in improving the quality of contents and facilitation of these workshops. I have no hesitation to admit that I have always learnt a lot from such feedback.

What was a bit surprising for me was the fact that during all these workshops, a vast majority almost over 95% did not know the correct abbreviation of various Pakistani and well known international medical journals which is essential for writing references. Similarly, they had lot of difficulty in writing references correctly and most of them were also not aware of the latest guidelines by International Committee of Medical Journal Editors (ICMJE) on authorship as well as on writing references.  Many said that they had heard the name of ICMJE and COPE (Committee on Publication Ethics) for the first time. A large number of them had already passed their FCPS-II examination wherein it is mandatory for them to attend workshop on Research Methodology organized by the CPSP at its different centers.

Enquiries revealed that during these workshops, while subjects like how to plan and conduct research are covered in detail, very little or no attention is paid to Medical Writing and publication ethics, scientific misconduct and plagiarism. At times the facilitators are too much occupied with statistics. It is neither possible for the authors to become statistician nor it should be the objective. They are supposed to know some basics of statistics and while planning, writing these studies they should seek help and guidance from the statistician who will help them to determine the sample size, analysis and interpretation of the data as well. On the other hand, they must be educated how to properly present their study findings in write-up. Since they are not exposed to this during these workshops, they find it difficult to write papers, make mistakes and when they submit their manuscripts for publication to the peer reviewed journals, they meet lot of trauma and most often they have to revise and rewrite it. Sometimes these manuscripts are returned and rejected  after initial internal review because of serious deficiencies. Ideally every medical institution should have a full time Statistician on its faculty to help, guide and assist the authors. 

This was brought to the notice of the CPSP higher authorities about two years ago but there has been no progress in this regard so far. It also shows that perhaps there is no system of monitoring the conduction of these workshops, facilitators or revising the contents of these workshops something which the CPSP must look into. It is in the interest of the CPSP as well as the postgraduates that they are fully aware of latest developments in the field of medical writing and scientific publishing. One hopes that CPSP administration will look into it and instruct the facilitators to make necessary additions to the contents of these Workshops on Research Methodology wherein the art of Medical Writing is also covered in detail.

Group photograph of facilitators and participants of the First Workshop on Research Methodology and
Medical Writing organized at CPSP Karachi from January 29-31, 1995.

This also reminds me that we had conducted the first ever workshop on Research Methodology and Medical Writing at CPSP from 29-31st January 1995 with the objective of training the trainers. The list of participants was finalized by me in consultation with late Prof. M. Sultan Faruqui then Chief Controller of Examinations in the CPSP.  The facilitators in this workshop included late Dr. Sarwar Zuberi, Dr. M.H.A.Baig, Prof. Shabih H. Zaidi, myself (Shaukat Ali Jawaid) and Syeda Kausar Ali. This was the beginning of such workshops at the CPSP which was later made mandatory for all the postgraduates for appearing in FCPS-II examination.

The decision to approach and involve the CPSP in this Training the Trainers programme in Research Methodology and Medical Writing Workshops was taken in a meeting of Pakistan Medical Journalists Association (later renamed as Pakistan Association of Medical Editors (PAME) during November 1994. The meeting was chaired by Dr. Sarwar J. Zuberi and others who were present included me besides Prof. Shabih H.Zaidi and Dr. M.H.A.Baig. I was asked to contact the CPSP. I met Prof. Muhammad Sultan Faruqui who was though Chief Controller of Examinations but managed the affairs of CPSP. He was excited at the idea and immediately agreed to the proposal. He called in Dr. Ehsanul Haque Chaudhry Director of Medical Education in CPSP and asked him to complete the formalities in consultation with me. We decided to have about twenty participants in the first workshop and also decided to prepare a list of prospective participants with mutual consultation.   We forwarded a list to Dr.Ehsanul Haque Chaudhry but when the list was finalized, I was surprised to note that a number of names suggested by us were missing and they were replaced with others. I asked Dr. Ehsanul Haque Chaudhry how it has happened and why the names have been replaced to which he said that he had nothing to do with this, it was all done on the directives of Prof. Sultan Faruqui and he was just acting as a “Post Office”. Listening this I was a bit furious and told him, I was not interested to talk to the Post Office and let me see the man who matters.

I straight away went to see Prof. Sultan Faruqui who listened to me patiently. I told him that our objective was to select not only those who are competent, intelligent, interested in academics but also interested to teach and train others for which they can also spare some time.  I must admit, Prof. Sultan Faruqui was honest with me because I knew his modus operandi of working and he knew me well.  He  said, “ Shaukat I  know some of the people I have added do not come up to your expectations and may not be suitable for this but remember  I  am running an institution and I have some political compulsions.

have to include some of our Fellows in every meeting, conference, workshop and committee we organize or constitute and you must realize my difficulties.”  I had two options either to give up this idea or come to some compromise and I decided to opt for the later. After some heated discussion we agreed that we will nominate 50% of the participants and CPSP will nominate the rest 50%.  Eventually a list of twenty prospective participants from all over the country was finalized which included nine nominated by me on behalf of PMJA. The first maiden workshop was thus organized at the CPSP Campus Karachi from January 29-31st 1995. On getting the feedback and realizing the importance of such a workshop, Prof. Sultan Faruqui later managed to make it compulsory for all the postgraduates before they attempt FCPS-II exam. Credit for this decision also goes to him and it also became a regular source of revenue for the CPSP. Those who attended this First Workshop on Research Methodology and Medical Writing held at CPSP seen in the Group Photograph included Prof. Zaman Sheikh from Karachi, Prof. Nasim Raza from Multan, Prof.Shabbir Hussain from Karachi,  Dr. I. H.Shami from PIMS Islamabad, Dr. Tahira Zafar from Rawalpindi, Prof. Tariq Mufti from Abbottabad, Dr. Syed Nayyer Raza from Lahore, Dr. Javed Gardezi from Lahore, Dr. S. Tasnim Haider Raza from Lahore, Dr. Zakaullah Khan from Karachi, Prof. Ijaz Haider from Lahore, Dr. S. Hassan Shoaib from Rawalpindi, Dr. Haroon K. Pasha from Multan, Dr. Aftab Mohsin from Lahore, Prof. Abdul Karim Saeed, Dr. Sameen Siddiqui, Dr. Khaleequz Zaman from PIMS Islamabad and Dr. Muhammad Tufail. Dr. Ehsanul Haque Chaudhry Director Medical Education CPSP at that time is also seen in the group photograph along with all the facilitators.

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