Internship Research 101

The internship research project process begins early in September and continues throughout the 39 weeks of internship. Though much is anticipated in regards to the research project, you may feel as though you don’t know as much as you would like to. Fear not pre-interners, this is your one-stop-shop for all things research-related throughout your internship.

Watch this screencast to learn more about how this page can help you.

Firstly, you may wish to know how the research projects are created and divided amongst the interns. The UBC Dietetics Education Coordinator receives research proposals from dietetic preceptors at each health authority, and the topics are screened by the program’s Research Advisory Committee. Once the proposals are screened and approved, the interns will base their research on these topics for the upcoming 39 week internship. The projects are designed so that they are feasible to complete in 39 weeks. If a preceptor wishes to take on a larger project or wishes to expand the project once the interns are finished, that would be the responsibility of the preceptor to carry on with the research.

Normally, the research projects from coordinators and preceptors are assigned to the respective interns at each health authority, as this facilitates discussion between the creators of the proposal and the interns responsible for the refinement and implementation of the research. The research is carried out in teams of 2-5 students; while the following demonstrates how it typically happens, it may vary slightly from year to year:

  • Vancouver Coastal Health – 8 interns split between 2 research projects
  • Fraser Health – 8 interns split between 2 research projects
  • Providence Health – 5 interns split between 2 research projects
  • Interior Health – 4 interns work together on 1 project
  • Island Health – 5 interns work together on 1 project
  • Northern Health – 2 interns work together on 1 project
  • Provincial Health Services Authority – 2 interns work together on 1 project

The research proposals vary from team to team and from year to year, but they are created by dietitians in the field who see how the knowledge gained from the research will benefit the profession. It’s not just something they are giving the interns to pass the time or to test them on their competencies - even if the research doesn’t get published in a journal, the research that interns complete leads to significant outcomes within dietetic practice. The research experience also contributes to important learning related to asking questions about your own practice and investigating them in a systematic way. Furthermore, the research also has the potential to be published in a scholarly journal and/or published on cIRcle, UBC’s digital repository for research and teaching materials.

Navigating the index for the dietetic internship research modules and forms can be a daunting task at the best of times. Many of the documents are handy to have at certain times throughout the research process; here you will find a breakdown of what the important documents are and when you are likely to use or need them. Please note that PDFs linked on this page are meant to be examples - please see the index for modules and forms for the most up to date resources.

To see a brief overview of all resources and forms provided by UBC Dietetics, please refer to the Research Module Table of Contents.


Project Requirements and Resources

This is a key reference document and should be reviewed by interns prior to internship. It outlines the roles and responsibilities of the research team (ie. a breakdown of the responsibilities of all parties involved in the research project), and outlines the research module process and to ensure specific project requirements are being met.

Last updated: August 5, 2015

Who uses it: All interns

Estimated start time: Review prior to September 1; refer to document as the research progresses.

Guidance Notes for Study Approval

This document provides guidance and explanations for the specific research ethics board (REB) applications and a breakdown of the ethics application and forms for each specific health authority. It also answers FAQ in regards to research information services (RISe) and REB applications.

Last updated: October 7, 2015

Who uses it: All interns (especially interns responsible completing the REB application)

Estimated start time: September 1; refer to project activities checklist form

Research Activities Flow Chart

Flow chart of the internship research module displaying key activities and deadlines.

Last updated: August 5, 2015

Who uses it: All interns

Estimated start time: Review prior to September to familiarize with the overview of research module

Study Closeout Guidelines

Procedures to properly close out research study and proper data storage procedures at the end of the research project.

Last updated: August 5, 2015

Who uses it: All interns

Estimated start time: Prior to completion of project (May/June)

Research Symposium Guidelines

Presentation guidelines, including slideshow content, for those presenting at the research symposium. There is one presenter per research team.

Last updated: August 5, 2015

Who uses it: All interns

Estimated start time: Prior to symposium in June (April/May)


Research Module Instructions and Evaluation

You will need to keep this module on hand (via computer access) throughout the duration of your research process. It contains checklists for tasks requiring completion and assessments for how well you and your preceptor thought you completed them. In the final month of internship, you are required to have all of the intern sections completed and send the module to your preceptor, who will then complete the module with an intern performance review and send the finalized module to the site coordinator and back to the intern.

Last updated: August 5, 2015

Who uses it: One form per intern; preceptor completes performance evaluationf or each intern.

Estimated start time: September 1

Project Activities Checklist

This checklist is to be completed by the intern project leader to track the team’s progress throughout the research process. By the first week of June, the checklist should be complete (with intern and preceptor input) and the finalized version sent to the preceptor and each intern team member.

Last updated: September 22, 2015

Who uses it: Intern project leader (one form per team)

Estimated start time: September 1

Research Proposal Form

One form per team is to be completed electronically to attach to the application for the research ethics board. The final submission must be complete by the third Friday in October: First to the preceptor to review and endorse Second to the Dietetic Education Coordinator

Last updated: August 5, 2015

Who uses it: One form per team

Estimated start time: Mid-September

Research Projects Ideas Form for Preceptors

Form used to propose internship research project ideas before internship begins.

Last updated: August 5, 2015

Who uses it: Potential research preceptors

Estimated start time: May prior to internship year

What is Descriptive Research?

Descriptive research is often the first "dip" into a new disease or area of inquiry. Descriptive studies are concerned with, and designed to, describe existing data without regard to causation or other hypotheses. Good descriptive research answers:

  • Who
    • Age, sex, race, occupation, recreational activities
  • What is the condition being studied
    • Development of clear, specific, and measurable case definition
  • When is the condition rare or common?
    • Time provides important clues about health events
  • Where does or does not the condition arise?
  • So what?
    • Is it a current condition? A timely one? Are large numbers involved
    • Has it been studied before?

Types of Descriptive Research


A systematic method that collects, analyze and interpret data to help evaluate,implement and/or disseminate strategies for prevention or control.

Cross-sectional (prevalence) studies

A type of observational design that measures determinants of health and/ or health outcomes in a specific point of time.

Prospective descriptive study

Epidemiological study where cohorts are selected to examine for possible effects on some outcomes and followed over time.

Retrospective chart review

Study design using existing patient recorded data to identify clinical gaps or evaluate associations between care/ clinical outcomes.

Secondary analysis of existing data

Using existing data collected for another study to identify alternative perspectives and/ or answer new research questions.

Focus group

Discussion that is moderated to collect information from a group of individuals with key characteristics on a specific topic.

Semi-structure interviews

A type of interview that has specific topics and questions that must be answered and probes are used to focus the direction of the session.

Observational study

Study using mainly observation to collect data and measure health outcomes.

Case reports

Evaluation of a single observation of a disease with unusual clinical presentation.

9 Steps of Descriptive Research

Infographic developed by FNH 480 students

FNH 480 Descriptive Research Presentation (2016)

Research Proposals

The following are examples of past research proposals at various health authorities from 2013-2014 and may be useful as references when creating a research proposal. Beside each link is a description of the project type and the health authority in which the projects were carried out. The first example is presented in a different format from the proposal requiring submission, while the last example is presented as a “corrected” submission for a research proposal.

Who uses it: Interns (not required)

Estimated start time: When creating research proposal (mid-September)

Ethics Application Forms

The following are examples of previous ethics applications forms.

Who uses it: Interns

Estimated start time: Prior to submission of Research Ethics Application


Criteria for Original Surveys is a step-by-step guide for survey development to be used by interns developing a survey as a means of data collection for their project.

Who uses it: Preceptors and interns creating a survey

Estimated start time: Prior to survey development (early fall)

The following documents contain information on surveying. The first document explains what surveying is. The information that can be found in this series on surveying include; designing the questionnaire, formatting of surveys, avoiding biased questions, how to motivate people to complete survey, evaluation of surveys, reliability and validity in surveys , analyzing survey data, basic statistical analysis, basic formulas for standard data analysis.

Who uses it: Interns seeking more information on survey development and analysis

Estimated start time: Prior to survey development (if applicable)

Qualitative Data Analysis

This Qualitative Data Analysis Powerpoint presents an overview of coding qualitative data and includes general steps for content analysis.

Who uses it: Interns analyzing qualitative data

Estimated start time: Prior to qualitative data analysis


This presentation details on what sampling is and how to conduct sampling that is appropriate to the research question. It also outlines a variety of sampling techniques.

Who uses it: Interns seeking additional information on sampling

Estimated start time: Prior to population sampling


UBC Office of Research Ethics Education + Training provides a variety of instructional resources to help members of the UBC research community confidently engage in ethical research involving human subjects.

Who uses it:Interns submitting ethics approval to UBC CREB

Estimated start time: Prior to submitting ethics approval

Feel inspired by watching this video that highlights the importance of research in dietetics: