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Table 2 Themes, categories and selected quotes from the participants

From: Research training program in a Turkish medical school: challenges, barriers and opportunities from the perspectives of the students and faculty members

Themes Categories Quotes
Being an RTP student - I applied to be involved in a scientific activity, to have a closer contact with faculty members and observe their work. (fifth grade student, female)
- We discussed selection of students for a long time. In the first year, we placed great emphasis on eagerness and did not care much about the academic success. However, we were terribly disappointed. We had selected students who were more social, who presented themselves well, and consequently most of them quit the program. Academic success was in fact an indicator, if a task is given importance, so are other tasks. … We must be able to select those who are prone to research and who are also determined. (CM1, ICL2, PM3, professor, internal medical sciences, male)
Components of RTP Introduction course - I remember the activities which pushed us to think, e.g. a research was given to be analysed, and we were asked to define the post Phase-2 stages. (sixth grade student, female)
- A few years pass until they can apply what they have learnt. I wonder whether they can really practice what I have taught. It is better for them to learn by doing the statistics. This is just a beginning. (ICL2, associate professor, internal sciences)
Research project-1; Finding a mentor and research topic - They apply to wrong addresses. They get interested in a subject, a faculty member is working on, but that person might reject them probably because of her/his busy schedule or personality and this makes the students feel demotivated. (CM1 and ICL2,
associate professor, female)
- I visited many departments. The faculty member in the field I wanted to work told me that he was too busy and directed me to another faculty member, but he could not spare time for me either. Then I changed my topic and conducted my research elsewhere. It was largely a waste of time. (graduate student, female)
- I selected my mentor thanks to my RTP consultant. She made an appointment for me with a faculty member in the field I am interested in and we visited my mentor together. Thus, I could start the project in my third grade. (fourth grade student, male)
- Students must be interested in a specific area and read a lot. They imagine that the study subject comes to one’s mind out of the blue. (CM1 and ICL2, professor, basic medical sciences, female)
- I was asking myself: How can I create a question without knowing the physiology and the pathology of any subject well? I had a talk with a few faculty members, and they all turned me down as I mentioned above and, in the end, I decided not to commence a project. (sixth grade student, female)
- I was aware that asking the right questions and thinking systematically had to do with reading a lot, but I lacked the capacity to do this at that time. (graduate student, female)
- My mentor first offered me a few project options. “Which one do you feel drawn to? In the meantime, you can visit all units, see which one is more suitable and select a project accordingly”. Thus, I selected my project in the third grade. (fifth grade student, female)
Research project-2: Challenges and facilitators encountered during the process - Getting the ethical approval took 1 year, after the third revision. It might be exhausting. Mentors sometimes assign any subject without thinking whether you can manage it or not. (sixth grade student, male)
- We had to buy material for our research. Although I guided the student, I did all the work such as searching for the material. Purchasing took a long time. In the meantime, the Turkish currency depreciated considerably. The appliance we were supposed to use broke down; we could not have it repaired because we didn’t have the money. …. We could not proceed as we had planned, so I had to do the rest myself and explained them how it all worked. (ICL2 and PM3, professor, surgical sciences, female)
- We are still waiting for an answer whether our project will receive financial support or not. I thought the process would be faster and I would play a more active role. I have been exerting great efforts for a long time, but my project has not yet become tangible. (fifth grade student, female)
- My mentor invited me to the meetings of his research team so that I could adapt to the subject. I attended every meeting, but this time I started to miss lessons. … Then, I pushed the articles I had to read into the background and drifted apart from the project. However, I was motivated thanks to the support of my mentor. (graduate student, male)
- We made a four-year plan in taking account her studentship and my workload. …. We did not need to apply for financial support. Maybe this made our job easier. …. Thanks to her enthusiasm, we passed all phases smoothly. (PM3, associate professor, surgical sciences, male)
Execution of RTP; opportunities and threats   - There were students who came to us after the lessons and asked questions from a scientific point of view. We felt they had other areas of interest outside of standard classes. The dean’s office at that time also established a commission to provide guidance to these students. (CM1, PM3, professor, basic sciences, female)
- The most important reason for the RTP’s success is that the medical school embraces it and the administration embraces it. So, the students’ interest grows. Even its suspension became an issue for a period. In fact, the administrators except those in that period gave support, but you somehow come to a deadlock. It should be highlighted in faculty demonstrations. In the past, there were students who selected Ege University Medical Faculty just because of the RTP. … The financial situation of our Specialists’ Association is good. When I could not find support from the university, I sent many students abroad thanks to the Association. (CM1, ICL2, PM3, professor, internal medical sciences, male)
- We had conducted the project without having financial support; using our own means. But I could not get financial support from the university for the presentation of the project. I was disheartened by this. I took my project to Berlin and South Korea through my own means. (graduate student, female)
- I don’t want the RTP commission to be regarded as dreamers either. Financial and moral support should be provided to the RTP. (sixth grade student, male)
- Faculty members cannot get involved without feeling the meaning of RTP and the uniqueness of the students. We know them well and personally witnessed their wishes. We do not leave them in the lurch. (CM1, ICL2, PM3, associate professor, basic medical sciences, male)
Relations among different actors of RTP   - We encouraged each other instead of being rivals. Two other friends and I developed another project and attended student congresses. It was a motivating atmosphere. (fifth grade student, male)
- The RTP commission members were asking us whether we were attending a meeting or not. I felt responsible keeping in mind that “they care for me and trust me”. (sixth grade student, female)
- I could not share my problems because I did not have the chance to do so. It could have increased my motivation if we had held more meetings and had seen what our friends were doing and how their solutions were. (fifth grade student, female)
- RTP counsellors can help the trouble-facing students to find their way more easily. We sometimes need a hand to push us, so that we can keep going. Even the question “how it is going” helps to motivate one. (Sixth grade student, female)
- My mentor never said, “there is nothing to do”. She always said, “You try and research and then we talk about it.” She never discouraged me but showed me the way instead of making the decisions. (graduate student, female)
Student outcomes of RTP Continuity of student motivation and accomplishment of RTP - I sometimes got tired and questioned if it was the right decision to do this at all. (fourth grade student, male)
The project was to be carried out while I was doing internal medicine internship, I was very busy. My mentor often called me. We had several meetings. He used to say, “Read about this subject for 2 weeks”. My English was not so well. I think my priorities have changed. I had the feeling I was lagging behind everyone was studying for “TUS”. (fifth grade student, male)
- One’s perception of the world changes as they get older. The ones who wish to do everything end up doing nothing. (CM1, ICL2 and PM3, associate professor, basic medical sciences, male)
Competencies gained through RTP - I have learned that it takes 2–3 years to write a 10-page review. (fourth grade student, male)
- She worked in every stage of the project and learned all the stages. I could have let her do everything but instead I let her do the job, corrected it and helped her to see the corrections. She visited the labs, observed, and decided on the inclusion criteria. (CM1, ICL2 and PM3, professor, internal sciences, female)
- The essence of the university education should be like it is in RTP. It teaches how to think and criticise. (sixth grade student, female)
Effects of Being in RTP on Students - I gained an RTP student identity beyond being a medical student. I was being appreciated for being a part of it in different situations. I have been writing to study abroad and have mentioned the fact that I am an RTP student. (fifth grade student, female)
- I started my PhD thanks to the RTP. It made me positive that I wanted to be a scientist. (graduate student, male)
  1. CM Commission Member, ICL Introduction Course Lecturer, PM Project Mentor