Scholarly Paper Evaluation

  • Originality: Work must be original and free of plagiarism. Students may be a co-author. The SP may be based on new data, existing data, or the medical literature (i.e., a systematic review or basic/translational review).
  • Clear Goals: Does the student state the basic purpose of his/her work clearly? Clarity of hypothesis? Does the student define objectives that are realistic and achievable? Does the student identify important questions in the field?
  • Relevance to medicine: Clear explanation of significance and relevance of chosen topic and specific research project.
  • Appropriate Methods: Does the student use methods appropriate to the goals (e.g., Will the study design answer the question/s posed?; Is the chosen statistical analysis appropriate?)? Does the student effectively apply the methods selected? If necessary, did the student modify procedures in response to changing circumstances?
  • Review of relevant literature: Does the student show an understanding of existing scholarship in the field? Is it well synthesized and focused? Does it successfully put research into context?
  • Significant Results: Does the student achieve stated goals? Does the student's work consequentially add to the field? Does the student's work open additional areas for further exploration? Was a hypothesis tested and proved or disproved?
  • Time frame: Research and writing must have been produced during medical school and meet all deadlines.
  • Format: SP manuscripts should follow the form and structure of the SP type (i.e., original clinical research, translational/basic science research or review paper, bioethical paper, formal systematic review/meta-analysis, or case report/series). Students are to adhere to the formatting of articles published in a peer-reviewed journal of their choice. It is important that students discuss with their mentor both the format of their paper and the appropriate journal to use as a template.

    It is strongly recommended that students read articles that share a similar method to their SP, such as a published systematic review or case report. Journals that may be suitable for the SP may also have instructions to authors that outline a desired format, and these should provide guidance about the desired length and number of references. For example, below are some links to journals with clear instructions for authors:
    1. Annals of Internal Medicine
    2. Journal of Immunology
    3. Journal of Experimental Medicine
  • Quality: The SP should be well written, edited, appropriately cited, and in final form. It will be reviewed by the Medical Student Research Committee and, if needed, other faculty with relevant expertise. Is it suitable for publication? Was it published or presented in a public domain?
  • Effective Presentation: Does the student use a suitable style and effective organization to present his or her work? Does the student use appropriate forums for communicating the work to its intended audiences? Does the student present his/her message with clarity and integrity?
  • Reflective Critique: Does the student critically evaluate his/her own work (e.g., in the discussion section)? Does the student bring an appropriate breadth of evidence to his/her critique? Does the student critically reflect on his/her results and study limitations to guide practice, the direction of additional research, or to improve the quality of future work?
  • Mentor attestation: Originality and significance of work, student contribution, professionalism of student.


Charles E.Glassick, PhD Boyer’s Expanded Definitions of Scholarship, the Standards for Assessing Scholarship, and the Elusiveness of the Scholarship of Teaching. Acad. Med. 2000; 75:877–880

Linda N. Meurer, MD, MPH. Medical College of Wisconsin, 2012