Independent Study for Medical Students

All Rutgers-Robert Wood Johnson Medical School medical students must produce a scholarly product that contributes to one of the Medical School’s missions of education, research, clinical care, or community health. Students must engage in their chosen activity for at least 160 hours to fulfill the requirements for this program.

The program encourages self-directed, independent learning in several areas, including critical thinking and professionalism in the production of a scholarly work.


BEGINNING IN 2012, STUDENTS WILL BE REQUIRED TO SUBMIT THEIR PROJECTS THROUGH A NEW ELECTRONIC SYSTEM.  This system is accessible through the Academic Management Platform (AMP).  Please direct all inquiries regarding the use of AMP to the RWJMS Office of Education.

Students may wish to engage in a research project during their time Rutgers-Robert Wood Johnson Medical School to satisfy the requirement for the independent project. Students may perform laboratory-based or clinical research either within or outside of the RWJMS campus under the guidance of a faculty advisor. Many students choose to use the summer research fellowship to satisfy the requirement for independent study.

Students must enter information about their projects into the Independent project database (available through AMP) during the course of their medical school careers.  Please note the required dates of submission for uploading information into AMP:

1)  Submission of initial idea -- due date May 01 of M1 Year

2)  Supply specific plan for project -- due date December 31 of M2 Year

3)  Supply a progress report -- due date December 31 of M3 Year

4)  Final project submission -- due date May 01 of M4 Year (recommend submitting by Sept 01 of M4 year for inclusion in MSPE letter)

Students may enter data earlier than the due dates suggested above.


1) Students must devote at least 160 hours to the experience.

2) Students must submit a 5-10 page paper that is based on the experience.  The paper is a requirement even if the work has been presented in a poster or oral presentation format. The paper should follow the traditional format -- introduction, methods, results, conclusions and discussion.  A journal submission can substitute for the paper.

3) Students may substitute a submitted or published peer-reviewed journal article that emanated from their research in lieu of the 5-10 page research paper noted in #2 above.  If the student is NOT the first author of this journal article, the student must also submit a brief description (just a few paragraphs) of their role in the project and their contribution to the research detailed in the journal article. 

4)  All papers must be preceded by an abstract. Research abstracts should adhere to the following format: introduction, methods, results, conclusions.

5)  Final documents will be automatically routed through the electronic system to the student's advisor for approval prior to final approval by the Office of Education.


1)  In addition to the paper noted in #2 or #3 above, students with external faculty advisors must complete the Independent Project Final Submission Form to gain credit for independent study.  The final form must be signed off by the faculty advisor who provided oversight for the student's research project.  This form does NOT have to be signed off by the Office of Education at time of submission, just the faculty advisor.

Click Here to navigate to the Final Submission Form.

2)  In addition to signing the Final Submission Form, a non-Rutgers-Robert Wood Johnson Medical School faculty advisor must provide a letter (signed and on their Institutional Letterhead) that confirms the student participated in at least 160 hours of research, discusses the results of student's work and endorses the student's final work product.  If the student uses a submitted manuscript or journal article as the final submission paper in which the student is NOT first author, then the advisor's letter should also confirm the student's role in the research described in the manuscript/journal article.

3)  In addition to their external faculty advisor, students are encouraged to discuss their projects with RWJMS faculty who have expertise in the field to gain valuable advice and direction.  These faculty do not have to sign the Final Submission Form, although they may if the student chooses to have them do so.

4)  Please note that the student should indicate the external mentor as the faculty advisor in the electronic submission system.  The system will ask the student to provide some brief information about this person (e.g. title, institution, etc).  The system will also automatically populate a Rutgers-Robert Wood Johnson Medical School advisor, Dr. Diane Ambrose, for final review of the Independent Project before approval by the Office of Education. 

5)  “Rutgers students may engage in human subjects’ research through collaboration with researchers at other institutions. However, regardless of IRB review/approval obtained at the other institution, Rutgers students must also submit the research to a Rutgers IRB and secure their approval before engaging in research with the other institution.”

HRP-105 Student Handbook: A Guide to Human Subjects’ Protection in Research, Version Date 12/01/16 Page 26

To convey the IRB approval from other institutions to the Rutgers IRB, please follow the following steps:

1. login e-IRB

2. Check "new study"

3. Select "New Brunswick Health Science IRB"

4. Select type of submission " Facilitated Review (for NCI-CIRBI, Commercial or other non-Rutgers IRB Review Request)"

6. Upload "Approval Letter"