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Exciting research but at a huge loss to explain it

Discussion in 'Pre-Medical - MD' started by synth, Jan 14, 2014.

  1. kevinnbass

    kevinnbass 10+ Year Member

    Dec 22, 2006
    I have done nearly 10 interviews, and I simply do not think it is possible for me to adequately discuss my research. I have done too much of it, and some of it, although I think it is extremely interesting and exciting, is also extremely obscure for many people.

    As it is, I am doing some mock interviews again, and the comments are almost universally, "wow it sounds like you have not done much research," which is very, very far from being the case. And yet, I don't know how to convey my research in two minutes without it coming across in this way. I have felt this way during most of my interviews.

    If I could hand out 1 or 2 abstracts at the end of the interview, I would feel much more comfortable. So, is it possible to do something, or do I deserve (as I suspect) mockery and heckling for even entertaining the thought?

    Thoughts or tips?

    Thanks. #neuroticpremed
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  3. QuinnTheEskimo


    Jan 9, 2014
    What kind of research have you done?
  4. SouthernSurgeon

    SouthernSurgeon Physician Lifetime Donor Classifieds Approved 7+ Year Member

    Dec 17, 2008
    If it can be adequately explained in an abstract, you should be able to explain it in an interview.
  5. SN12357

    SN12357 2+ Year Member

    Apr 23, 2013
    Yeeeah, do not hand out abstracts. It will be a douchey and unconvincing move. The entire point of discussing your research is that it proves that YOU actually participated, actually know what you were doing, and weren't handed an authorship as a thank-you for doing mindless gruntwork on the project.

  6. jeghaber

    jeghaber 2+ Year Member

    Feb 25, 2013
    Something I've been told is to describe your research in a way you would to a 5 year old with an adult vocabulary. Personally, I think jargon merely obfuscates your point and the purpose of talking about your work, so I generally try to avoid any jargon. More practically speaking, I usually start with an overview of the background/goal of the project and then segue into a personal contribution segment of "and through this, I became interested in question X, which led me take initiative Y and Z"
    Ace-Co-A likes this.
  7. cookiemonsters

    cookiemonsters 2+ Year Member

    Feb 13, 2013
    When I was interviewing I gave a general 1 sentence summary of the overarching topic my lab investigated, a 1-2 sentence summary of what the goal of my specific project was in the lab, and then I asked the interviewer if they had any specific questions about the research.
  8. TheShaker

    TheShaker 2+ Year Member

    Jan 31, 2012
    Treat it like a school paper with a strict word limit, cut out anything that isn't absolutely necessary for them to understand the general point of your project. I like to give them the background, the question, and the hypothesis. I end the initial elevator speech with an obvious gap in information where the next logical step would be for the interviewer to ask more. I can then further explain my project without making it seem like a monologue where I'm just talking the interviewer's ear off. It helps draw them into what you're saying by engaging them while avoiding the pitfall of throwing too much foreign information at them at once. I don't know if this is a common strategy but I've had to give my spiel many many times this cycle and in general it has worked for me.
  9. TennisBallAgainstDaWall

    TennisBallAgainstDaWall Account on Hold Account on Hold

    Jan 8, 2014
    Practice, practice practice. Memorize a speech! Of course allow for interruptions and improvisation, but have the basic outline memorized! Sound confident, make it concise, and like @jeghaber said, avoid using the technical nonsense that no one will know off the top of their head. GL
  10. kevinnbass

    kevinnbass 10+ Year Member

    Dec 22, 2006
    Thanks guys! Did a mock interview just now with my new research answers, and your comments were totally on point. Right now I'm cutting content, making answers more concise, and finalizing my research answer outlines for my last few interviews. Thanks to this input, I am really looking forward to a strong finish.
    jeghaber likes this.
  11. ThisCouldBeYou


    Oct 27, 2013
    Oh darn. I was hoping you'd tell us what the research is.
  12. lobo.solo

    lobo.solo 5+ Year Member

    May 4, 2011
    I agree with summarizing your research experience as it was an abstract... also I have found that most people focus on what the question is in research, interesting findings and conclusions (if any). Don't ramble about your methods, etc.
  13. BurberryDoc

    BurberryDoc Account on Hold Account on Hold

    Jun 7, 2013
    Pawnee, IN
    jargon, like obfuscate? :naughty:
  14. jeghaber

    jeghaber 2+ Year Member

    Feb 25, 2013
    :laugh: For some reason I couldn't remember the word "obscure" so I just went with it, but point taken. Although -- technically, jargon does refer to field-specific terminology rather than obscure word choices, so... :p
    smarts1 and sat0ri like this.
  15. BurberryDoc

    BurberryDoc Account on Hold Account on Hold

    Jun 7, 2013
    Pawnee, IN
    In my old lab, treatment with lipofectamine was "lipofectate" and I was reminded by "obfuscate" haha.

    To the lay person, a field-specific word may sound very obscure, haha.
  16. 3plus3

    3plus3 2+ Year Member

    Jan 14, 2014
    During my interview experience, I was often asked to explain my research in layman's terms so that it could be understood by a person without a science background. I would say this is one part of the interview that doesn't have to be completely extemporaneous.

    Although you're most likely at the middle/end of your interview cycle, I would advise that you and others in similar situations practice a bit on how you'd explain your research in just a few minutes. I suspect this question has more to do with how you'd explain complex concepts to future patients without a background in medicine rather than any intrinsic interest in the research itself on the part of the interviewer.

    Good luck! I hope everything works out for you!
  17. boomshaketheroom

    boomshaketheroom 2+ Year Member

    Jan 3, 2014
    Just tell them the same way you would tell a friend or family member. Most interviewers are very science-literate (duhh), but they aren't always familiar with specifics that pertain to your research. If you get caught up in jargon, they'll get bored.
  18. Shjanzey

    Shjanzey Rocket Scientist 5+ Year Member

    Jun 30, 2012
    Seeing as they are only doctors I'm not even sure an abstract would grant them an effective glimpse into your mighty intellect. Apparently some things must remain a mystery...

    Sarcastic remarks aside. If you can't even explain the research you worked on, I would seriously call into question your contribution to the project. Handing out an abstract is a cop-out and really a sleazy way to pass off someone else's hard work as your own. If you only did data entry while someone else did the data analysis and write-up, then you should be honest about that. Stumbling your way through an interview will just reveal that you are lying and that will most likely alienate you from the ADCOMS.

    You will find that in Medical School you will have to read someone else's research article and explain what it means to a group of other competent peers, who have also most likely read the same article and will ask you questions about it. Good luck with your totally hard interview
    Goro, lobo12 and BurberryDoc like this.
  19. Ismet

    Ismet PGY-fun! Administrator Physician 5+ Year Member

    May 15, 2011
    This. As an interviewer, if an interviewee was unable to describe their project and what they did in a few sentences, I would question their understanding of it and/or their contribution. Handing over an abstract would be even worse, because it even further demonstrates that you are unable to describe it, not to mention it would be pretty awkward during the interview. Maybe talk with your PI and have him/her help you figure out the best way to talk about it succinctly but effectively.
    Goro likes this.
  20. Goro

    Goro Faculty 7+ Year Member

    Jun 10, 2010
    Somewhere west of St. Louis
    James Watson (he of the DNA double helix fame) once said that "any scientist should be able to explain what s/he does to a sixth grader. If they can't they don;t don't know what they're doing.

    Do NOT hand out an abstract. You'd get low waitlisted for that.

    juliuspepperwood likes this.

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