February 28, 2022, by Lee Mei Kee

Student Research Internship Experience – School of Pharmacy

During the summer break in 2021, I was planning a pharmacy placement in a hospital or a community pharmacy, but they were not feasible due to transportation and COVID-19 pandemic. To utilise my long summer break and not to miss the summer internship opportunities provided by the University of Nottingham Malaysia School of Pharmacy, I switched my focus targeting summer internship project offered by the school.

Upon a few rounds of interviews, I started embarking on my qualitative research journey under the supervision of Dr Jim Chai, who is an expert in implementing qualitative research with several reputable publications.

The topic of the research was unveiled by Dr Jim in the first briefing session, which was “Analysis of Malaysians’ opinions towards COVID-19 vaccines”. At that moment, my brain was full of excitement because this theme was absolutely what I had always wanted to explore. Conducting this research not only could enhance my qualitative researching skills but would also broaden my horizon by analysing and understanding different views and opinions of people towards this topic on the COVID-19 vaccines.

After the detailed briefing on the methods and strategies on implementing this research, each of us had to choose one of the official Facebook news pages in Malaysia such as Malaysia Sin Chew Daily, Oriental Daily News Malaysia and Guangming Daily on a first-come-first-serve basis. I chose Guangming Daily because the workload was not too heavy and it had sufficient followers on Facebook with a certain level of popularity.

We were focusing on all the Facebook posts regarding COVID-19 vaccinations from January 2021 until end of June 2021. My first task was to record the date of the post, summarise the post, and then categorise the comments under the posts into an Excel sheet. This was the first layer of coding and involved categorising these comments into four big columns in the excel file: positive (facilitator), negative (barrier), neutral and uncertain. In general, positive comments showed the awareness and willingness of getting the vaccines or any actions that facilitate the vaccination process; whereas negative comments illustrated the possible barriers which hindered the public to get vaccinated.

Once we had done enough first layer of coding, we started to further categorise these comments with more comprehensive interpretations, the second layer of coding embarked. We grouped similar comments together and generated “common themes” which aided us to interpret the comments qualitatively. As an illustration, negative themes included some common themes such as side effects of the vaccines, lack of information transparency and insufficient vaccines availability. One funny moment I could think of was that I discussed with some of my colleagues in the research team to find out how to categorise some specific comments such as blaming rudely on the government. Fortunately, after the clarification of Dr Jim during the follow-up meeting, we knew that we could exclude those comments which were meaningless in this research objective. The duration of this research was approximately 2 months (from 1st of June to 31st of July).

All in all, I would like to express my gratitude to Dr Jim for giving me this opportunity and guiding us throughout his research internship. This has given me an insight on how to implement qualitative research, which would be definitely helpful for the upcoming final year project. Undoubtedly, my first summer break was utilized incisively and vividly with no regrets.


This article is written by Sia Cheng Yang, MPharm Year 2 student.


Posted in Experience SharingMPharmUndergraduate