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How do adcoms evaluate "potential research direction/career prospects"?

pretysmitty

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I saw on a reddit thread that adcoms will weigh applicants according to their research interests. To quote a user: "One program gave me feedback for why I didn't make the post-interview cut: "limited career prospects" due to my research interests." This sentiment was echoed by other user, including one that participates in their program's adcom.

This doesn't really make sense as its pretty subjective, and hopefully isn't done in most adcoms. However I'm still curious - how are these evaluations made?
 

peachblacktea96

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I could see this being the case if you made your research interests very/ overly specific, to the point where it could limit your faculty choices. I met other applicants who communicated their interests in a way that seemed like they only wanted to continue along in a very narrow area/subtopic established by their prior research experiences. I think this does shoehorn you a little bit in terms of research fit and could make schools that don't have established research programs in that very specific subtopic wary about accepting you. When applying, I would generally recommend being open to your research interests changing (and later on, they likely will have to be flexible in order to pursue/ secure grants).
 
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toofastdan

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I could see this being the case if you made your research interests very/ overly specific, to the point where it could limit your faculty choices. I met other applicants who communicated their interests in a way that seemed like they only wanted to continue along in a very narrow area/subtopic established by their prior research experiences. I think this does shoehorn you a little bit in terms of research fit and could make schools that don't have established research programs in that very specific subtopic wary about accepting you. When applying, I would generally recommend being open to your research interests changing (and later on, they likely will have to be flexible in order to pursue/ secure grants).
This makes sense. I also had concerns over how specific applicants should be with their research goals. For example, if I was interested in studying specific sensory cells in the eye/ear, I could just expand this to say "neuroscience and genetics".

I also think research specificity might vary from program to program. If the school has an entire core/building with several PIs dedicated to studying your specific interests, it might be ok to get more narrow to show that you have a direct reason for applying to that school. Feel free to correct me if I'm interpreting this wrong.
 
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Silence_Water_Hope

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A common question (or related) that I encountered in several interviews was "where do you see yourself after your training." Here you were expected to outline your future career as a physician-scientist (whether that be as an academic, researcher in industry, etc.), how much research you would be doing (traditional 80-20), and general field or research problem you wanted to tackle (cancer, Alzheimer's, heart disease etc.)

Although there are programs that are more open-minded than others, I got a strong impression that programs had a clear preference for the responses to this question. Some programs were very clearly looking for a traditional 80-20 academic physician-scientist looking to enter the field that they were strong at, while others seemed to be fine as long as you were doing some sort of research in the future. I've talked to some other interviewees who said that they received strong negative reactions from more "traditional" PDs after expressing interest in entering the industry or being part of clinical trials, for example.

My guess is that these questions are not mainly meant to test your "resolve" in sticking to the path exactly as you just outlined; whether, they seemed to be testing a) whether you have at least thought of a coherent plan for your future career and b) whether you will find program X to be a satisfactory program in reaching your goals and c) whether program X has produced the kind of physician-scientists as the one you see yourself becoming. The worst thing you can do, imo, is being vauge or selling yourself short in responding these questions; in one of my earlier interviews, I gave a fairly vague answer to this question that resulted in my interviewer asking for more and more information. Like many other things, I've found that larger, better-established programs were usually more flexible in what they were looking for.
 
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sluox

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I saw on a reddit thread that adcoms will weigh applicants according to their research interests. To quote a user: "One program gave me feedback for why I didn't make the post-interview cut: "limited career prospects" due to my research interests." This sentiment was echoed by other user, including one that participates in their program's adcom.

This doesn't really make sense as its pretty subjective, and hopefully isn't done in most adcoms. However I'm still curious - how are these evaluations made?

Out of curiosity what is this area?
 

Neuronix

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If someone comes in insistent on a very narrow area, especially one that doesn't have a lot of physician-scientist examples or isn't available at that institution (or at least the mdphd program thinks that), this can happen.

I've had undergrads telling me they want to work in some really narrow areas that just straight up seem kooky to me.

You want to have interests. But keep them reasonably broad and reasonably common. You don't know where life will take you.
 
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definitely_chondria

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Yikes that is one of my research interests too. I feel like I've seen a fair number of MD-PhDs doing that type of work, so maybe it really was just how they phrased it?
Yeah I think so too. Depending on the program, it would also be important to describe how drug development can exist in an academic space instead of industry
 
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CaliforniaAsian

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Yeah I think so too. Depending on the program, it would also be important to describe how drug development can exist in an academic space instead of industry
I asked the poster in the reddit thread. It was at their home institution, and their work was with one of the institution's star physician-scientists. The institution also has a reputation for not taking their own undergrads. They had a successful cycle though, if that helps ease your worries.
 
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