If you are applying to the thesis-based stream of MSc ehealth, you need to write and defend a thesis in order to graduate. A thesis supervisor is needed to help guide you throughout your thesis research. While you don’t need to secure a supervisor before starting the program, you do need a supervisor early on to leave enough time to complete your thesis in time to graduate within 24 months.
A good way to view the Research Statement is to treat it as an application to become a thesis student of a supervisor rather than an application to the program. Within the Research Statement, you are proposing a specific research topic that you will pursue in during the program for your thesis. It’s important to remember you are only “proposing” here. The admissions committee know that your final research topic will ultimately be decided in a mutual agreement between you and your supervisor, which depends on both your background and interest as well as your supervisor’s area of expertise.
The Research Statement is very likely to be evaluated by a potential thesis supervisor who is accepting students. They may read your Research Statement for academic merit and as a good starting point for discussion with you on your research goals (say, during an interview).
How to Write the Research Statement
Before you begin writing, you should brainstorm several different ehealth topics. Read this blog article, what is ehealth, to get a better idea for what ehealth is and some of the topics in ehealth.
In the Research Statement, McMaster asks you to include:
potential research topic related to a problem in eHealth that you are interested in studying further
Let’s break this down into:
- A problem in ehealth
- Potential research topic
- Your interest
A Problem in ehealth
Introduce your Research Statement with “a problem in ehealth.” This gives the reader context to the research you’re proposing. Note the problem you describe doesn’t have to be a problem in ehealth, it could also be a problem for which ehealth is part of the solution.
It’s important to include some background and the significance of this problem, with details, and preferably with an example. Is this a problem for health care (ie. waste and inefficiency in healthcare)? Is this a problem for providers (ie. undermining provider experience)? Is this a problem for patients (ie. barrier for patient's access to care)? Is this a problem that prevents adoption of ehealth (ie. barrier for adoption of virtual care)?
You want to reference some literature to substantiate your claims. Literature search tools like Google Scholar, Semantic Scholar, or PubMed are very helpful search engines for finding literature references.
Potential Research Topic
Once you’ve introduced the problem, you’ll want to describe the current, state-of-the-art, research on this topic. Think of things like: What is being done currently? Why is this still a problem today? What are people currently researching on? Does a non-ehealth field share this problem? Has this problem been addressed in another field?
Based on current research, what do you think future research directions are for this research topic? It’s a good idea to list a few potential research directions – then pick one you think that suits you and explain why you want to go in this direction – it could be based on your background, skills, and interest. List 1 or 2 pros and cons for the research direction you picked. You can further show that you’ve given an even deeper thought by proposing a research methodology and even a timeline for your research.
Finally, suggest the potential impact of your research. Will your research enable patients better access to healthcare? Will your research help save healthcare dollars? Will your research help make healthcare more efficient? Provide specific numbers, if possible, to show that you’ve already done investigations into the research you’re proposing.
Reflect on your past experiences and your interest. How does your experience/skillset and interest align with your proposed research? Suggest ways in which your background, skillset, or interest helps you to better succeed in the area of research you proposed.
See if your research is an area of focus where one of the MSc ehealth faculty (https://ehealth.mcmaster.ca/faculty/) is an expert and reach out to that professor. You can ask for advice, feedback, or even ask them to be your thesis supervisor directly if they are accepting students.