Online Application: http://www.uniteforsight.org/volunteer-abroad/apply

Global Impact Lab

Global Impact Fellows participating with Unite For Sight abroad have the option to also pursue a global health research study. Participating in the Global Impact Lab on a research study is optional. Unite For Sight mentors its Global Impact Fellows to implement quality research studies that are relevant to Unite For Sight's global health delivery programs and that contribute to knowledge about global health needs and solutions. The research results are utilized to further eliminate barriers to care for patients living in extreme poverty. Those pursuing a research study receive a Certificate in Global Health Research.

Steps For Prospective Global Impact Fellows Interested in Research

In close collaboration with Unite For Sight and the partner eye clinic, Global Impact Fellows work with a university mentor to pursue a research study on a topic that is requested and needed by the local medical professionals. Global Impact Fellows are required to receive Institutional Review Board (IRB) approval from their university prior to implementing their study.

  1. Apply to become a Unite For Sight Global Impact Fellow. Before beginning to work on a research study, it is necessary to first apply and be accepted to the Unite For Sight program. You will not develop your own research study, but instead you will work with Unite For Sight to pursue a research study based on the needs of the local partner eye clinic(s). You may see recent past research studies at http://www.uniteforsight.org/global-impact-lab/past-research.
  2. If accepted to the program, you would next contact Unite For Sight's Senior Program Manager, Amy Bellman Davis, at adavis@uniteforsight.org to let us know that you are interested in pursuing a research study.
  3. Find a faculty mentor (professor or physician ideally affiliated with your university). Ideal mentors tend to be professors in fields such as public health, anthropology, and sociology.
  4. Contact your university’s IRB to determine all of the guidelines for IRB approval.  Is it an online or paper application process?  When is the next IRB deadline?  What needs to be included in the IRB proposal?  Are there specific questions that need to be answered?
  5. Complete the Global Health Research Certificate curriculum, which will provide you with comprehensive instructions, direction, and ideas that will assist your research process.  This is a required curriculum for all Global Impact Fellows pursuing research, and it is important to complete the curriculum at this stage in your research process.  Please note that Global Impact Fellows do not have a fee associated with the Global Health Research Certificate. Contact Amy Bellman Davis at adavis@uniteforsight.org to request access to this curriculum.
  6. Complete Global Impact Training curriculum, which is required of all Global Impact Fellows. It is important to complete the curriculum at this stage so that the researcher can pursue a research proposal that fits well within the context of Unite For Sight's global health delivery programs. The curriculum is included in the volunteer's login page.
  7. Apply to be accepted to Unite For Sight's Global Impact Lab by completing an application, which includes several short answer questions that confirm understanding about quality, responsible international research. Contact Amy Bellman Davis at adavis@uniteforsight.org to request access to this application.
  8. If accepted, work with Unite For Sight to pursue a research idea and plan. This step includes an introductory phone conversation with Connor Orrico, as well as required biweekly phone conversations that provide close mentoring on the research process. Unite For Sight has a compilation of research studies requested and needed by each of its eye clinic partners, and the research study will fulfill one of these important research needs.
  9. Complete a thorough literature review, which is an important step to help with your research methodology, design, implementation, and analysis.  Review journal articles in a variety of sources, including Community Eye Health Research Database, Google Scholar, and PubMed.  It is important to read articles that are both related and unrelated to your planned research topic.  For example, if you are pursuing a study related to visual communication in eye care, you should also review articles related to other forms of health education in resource-poor settings, including HIV/AIDS education, TB education, etc.  Likewise, if you are pursuing a study about patient barriers to eye care, you should review research studies that assess patient barriers to other types of health care in resource-poor settings.  What strategies and research questions have been effectively used by other researchers? 
  10. Write a draft proposal that adheres to your university’s IRB guidelines.
  11. Submit your draft proposal to your faculty mentor for review and discussion.
  12. Submit your draft proposal to Unite For Sight (adavis@uniteforsight.org) for review and discussion with the partner eye clinic.
  13. Unite For Sight will provide you with feedback and comments. 
  14. Submit your final proposal to Unite For Sight (adavis@uniteforsight.org).  After Unite For Sight provides you with approval, your next step is to submit the final proposal to your university’s IRB.
  15. Submit your Unite For Sight-approved proposal to your university's IRB.
  16. After you receive IRB approval from your university, it is important for you to submit the final certificate or letter of approval to Unite For Sight (adavis@uniteforsight.org), which will also be forwarded to the partner eye clinic. You will also submit a final copy of the IRB proposal that was approved.
  17. We will schedule another phone conversation with you to finalize your plans and see if you have any questions before you travel abroad.
  18. Before going abroad, make an adequate number of copies of the survey to bring with you abroad. You should also print 10-15 extra copies. The questionnaires can be typed in very small font to decrease the number of copies needed, since you, rather than the patients, will be recording the responses onto the survey printouts. Place the survey printouts into a 3-ring binder to bring with you abroad. Create a password-protected Excel database on the laptop that you plan to bring abroad, and bring a tape recorder for the informed consent statement.
  19. While you are abroad, record the responses onto the printed surveys, and then input the data into the Excel sheet after each day.
  20. After you complete your research abroad and return home, you will submit your raw data to Unite For Sight within two weeks. Unite For Sight will immediately thereafter analyze the data to share with the partner eye clinics.  Please also submit your own data analysis to Unite For Sight as soon as it is completed. We also encourage you to consider presenting or publishing your research findings.  Additional information can be seen at Publishing & Presenting Research.