Common Errors in Proposals and Dissertations and How to Avoid them: A Resident’s Guide
Background: The dissertation is now a necessary part of the fellowship examinations of both the West African college of surgeons and physicians
and the national postgraduate medical college of Nigeria. Many resident doctors are confused about how to get on with their proposals and the
dissertations. This confusion often leads to frustrations, and in extreme cases to unnecessary delay in attempting the examinations when due.
Aim: This study aims to identify the common errors made by resident doctors in the proposal and dissertations and to recommend the solutions
to such problems.
Methods: This survey is based on a direct interview with experienced examiners in both colleges. The examiners were asked to list what they observed as the common problems they identified concerning the proposal and dissertation of residents. The answers were collated and categorized according to the frequencies of problems identified. Based on the response of the examiners, a questionnaire was designed and administered to the senior residents who are at various stages of writing their dissertations.
Results: Some of the findings include starting the proposal too late, difficulty in choosing a topic, mediocre and tedious literature search, difficulty in finding appropriate supervisors, poor appreciation of basic research design and necessary statistical tests, improper presentation of results and wrong referencing. Others are editorial mistakes, pagination errors, and the lack of knowledge on proper attitude and skill during the defense.
Conclusion: Starting too late is the most common error made by the resident doctor in the dissertation. Residents should choose a topic within 6 months of passing the membership examination.
Keywords: Dissertations, errors, proposals, resident doctors