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Finding High-Yield Research Oppurtunities

Discussion in 'Allopathic' started by DeadCactus, 06.12.09.

  1. DeadCactus

    DeadCactus SDN Lifetime Donor Lifetime Donor

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    I spent two years doing research in undergrad and while I think my exposure gave me a good understanding of what basic science research entails and how to begin going about it, my project felt like a lot of floundering around with little tangible return.

    I start med school in the Fall and I'd really like to get in on some kind of research at some point. I'd really like to do either some clinical or epidemiological research. How do you go about finding a solid research project? I basically just fell into my undergraduate position. Do you just talk to department heads and ask for recommendations on researchers to approach? Ask professors? Is it kosher to state that you want a project that will lead to a publication? I just feel like a publication gives a tangible goal and reward for a project.
  2. fMRI

    fMRI

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    Well, what to say? If you feel that strongly about getting a publication, it is legitimate to state that. I do not understand the "I do anything to get my name on a paper" approach, but that is just me. Find something you find interesting, do it thoroughly and a publication might come out of it. My goal has never been to get a publication. I am interested in doing research in my specific field, do it with dedication, developed strong links with other researchers -- collaborations, grants/funding and publications then fall into place (after lots of blood, sweat, tears, redrafting of projects, and coffeine). :D But again, that takes a long-term dedication to a lab.
    If this is what you want, then *you* need to find out first what *you* like. You'd be making a long-term commitment and that ought to require some reflection, right? ;) After all, I spend more of my waking hours around my lab-mates than with my partner. :eek: !!

    Still wanting a publication this summer?
    Remember, most people will be working "long haul" there, they might find it weird that somebody with little formal research training (= no graduate training) wants to join for a couple of weeks and expects to get a publication out of it. That said, it might actually be to your benefit to state it clearly that your goal is to get something published. Only then can they be honest with you if they can meet your expectations and gauge if you fit into their lab in the first place. :) There are surely "busy work" lab positions out there where they'll offer you a decent spot among the co-authors for little actual research.

    Good luck with finding what *you* want. :)
    Last edited: 06.13.09
  3. DeadCactus

    DeadCactus SDN Lifetime Donor Lifetime Donor

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    "I do not understand the 'I do anything to get my name on a paper' approach, but that is just me."

    I've given the wrong impression. I want to actually do work; I don't want to get a second author and have cleaned dishes the whole time. But I think it's fair to say that some projects are far more stable and willing to reward your efforts.

    Maybe I'm under a misconception, but I definitely get the impression that some projects simply have far more solid goals while others are almost exploratory. Am I out of line in wanting to sit down with a PI, define what data needs to be collected, help determine a way to collect that data, collect and analyze the data, and want the results to be part of some publication? Especially since my interests are in epidemiology and certain areas of clinical research right now?
  4. WellWornLad

    WellWornLad

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    Out of line? You're supposed to go through this process. Things rarely turn out this simple, however. Problems come up and plans will change. You may not get the results you expected, or the results may not be strong enough or interesting enough on their own to publish. No one can guarantee a publication before you've even started collecting data.

    Here's what I recommend:

    - Follow your interests in choosing a field of research. I can't overemphasize what a difference it makes in productivity to actually be interested in what you're doing.
    - Identify those people at your school who do said research, and compare recent publications. That'll give you an idea of how active each is in their research. Again, look at recent publications, not lifetime publications, as the former tends to decrease over time even while the latter grows.
    - Read some papers from labs you're interested in. Get some big-picture ideas of your own before you talk to PIs. If you come in with your own ideas, you lay claim to your own projects and have much more control over where you sit in the author list.
    - Optional, but recommended: do some reconnaissance. Talk to residents or grad students in the same department about what PIs are like, and what the culture is like in their lab. It's hard to truly get a feel for personalities before you start working with someone, but look out for red flags. Some PIs are absolutely crazy and have difficult personalities, and those are the sort of PIs who will gladly have you do a bunch of work only to usurp it all when you return to class, leaving your name in the acknowledgements section. Unfortunately, these types also tend to be fairly productive, so look out.
  5. RxnMan

    RxnMan Who, me? A doctor? Moderator Emeritus

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    Check the research FAQ (link in my sig).
  6. lildave2586

    lildave2586

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    Clinical research generally publishes faster than basic science research. Go to your schools website and poke around at various departments to see who has pretty active research. At my school, all you have to do is call a department and they will put you to work. I suppose it depends on how active a research institution your attending, but there is a project for anyone who is willing to work.
  7. lildave2586

    lildave2586

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    Clinical research generally publishes faster than basic science research. Go to your schools website and poke around at various departments to see who has pretty active research. At my school, all you have to do is call a department and they will put you to work. I suppose it depends on how active a research institution your attending, but there is a project for anyone who is willing to work.
  8. go lakers

    go lakers Senior Member

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    co-sign

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