Nov 18, 2013
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I am a current sophomore biology major and I was wondering how important undergrad research is? How much time do you put into it and how do you go about finding opportunities like that? Appreciate any help you can give me!
 

SnakeOilForSale

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Apr 12, 2013
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Relatively important. Specific schools are more research-oriented than others, but it's always a good idea to have some research in your background. It certainly won't hurt you.

You can e-mail around the Biology department as school, ask an adviser, look at research facilities by your campus and call to see if they want interns. Another way is to apply for research positions during the summer, but these are easier to get if you have some experience already.

Easiest way to go about it is pretty much: e-mail around Bio professors at your school > Work a few hours a week > Get some results > Do a poster/conference at your school/outside of school > Apply for some competitive summer research program for your junior or senior year. This is just a general idea and not necessarily a set-in-stone format.
 

Espadaleader

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It's a requirement. Most medical schools are requiring scholarly projects to graduate now so even though they don't explicitly state that research is a requirement coming in you should behave as such. Doesn't have to be basic science. It can be a project on early modern English prose as long as it is research and is of scholarly quality.
 

wiloghby

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Jun 16, 2012
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Take a look at the MSAR. Though I guess you probably won't want to shell out $$$ for it if you are not applying any time soon. I'll give you a short summary:

Whatever school you are applying to, >50% of accepted students have done some research.
 

alpinism

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Nov 6, 2011
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Depends on the med school.

If you want to go to a research powerhouse, its practically a requirement.

If you're more interested in primary care focused schools, you can get away without having any as long as the rest of your ECs are solid.

Most pre-meds doing research only put in a few hrs a week (<20) during the school year. Some also do research over the summer.
 

ciestar

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So am I at a significant disadvantage having basically no research (class project, it was an independent thing where we had to come up with our own project/parameters, set up an experiment, and then test for our results and our hypothesis...idk if this actually counts as research, though)? This has had me worried for a while and now I'm even more neurotic about it.
 

TheWeeIceMan

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It's a requirement. Most medical schools are requiring scholarly projects to graduate now so even though they don't explicitly state that research is a requirement coming in you should behave as such. Doesn't have to be basic science. It can be a project on early modern English prose as long as it is research and is of scholarly quality.
Eh, I wouldn't call it a requirement, at least at most medical schools. Plenty of people (myself included) get in every year without research if the MSAR is to be believed. I'd still recommend finding a research project (especially if your major is biology), but not having it on your app is not a death sentence at the majority of medical schools.
 

Pacna

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Jun 2, 2013
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It's a requirement. Most medical schools are requiring scholarly projects to graduate now so even though they don't explicitly state that research is a requirement coming in you should behave as such. Doesn't have to be basic science. It can be a project on early modern English prose as long as it is research and is of scholarly quality.
For some schools, yes. I have 0 research experience and I'm sitting on 4 acceptances. *shrug*
 

youmed

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Jul 17, 2011
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So am I at a significant disadvantage having basically no research (class project, it was an independent thing where we had to come up with our own project/parameters, set up an experiment, and then test for our results and our hypothesis...idk if this actually counts as research, though)? This has had me worried for a while and now I'm even more neurotic about it.
You should definitely try to find a research project to work on. It's a good way to learn outside of lecture halls.

Edit: I don't think that class project counts as research, especially if that project was required as an assignment for your class.

Edit #2: You should research because you want to, not because you have to fill it as a "requirement" for medical school.
 
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Jabbed

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No undergraduate research experience will be a deal breaking disadvantage if you apply to any of the top 15. Not saying that it'll be impossible, just realize that you're competing for a relatively few number of seats that typically go to students with top notch grades and ECs if you choose to forego any research projects.

Don't listen to people that say that you shouldnt get involved if you're not really interested in it. Very few people that I've met actually enjoy their bench research, but that tells you nothing about how neccessary it is for your application.
 
Nov 18, 2013
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Research is a big advantage if you have it, but not a dealbreaker if you don't. I would discourage any last-ditch efforts to have a small role in unrelated bench research, as that can be seen for what it is from a mile away. Instead, try to find someone within your major who is doing any kind of research, even if it is a literature review, case study, etc. Showing your interest in the work you did is very valuable on the interview trail.
 

ciestar

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I'm a non-trad who has already graduated so finding a project isn't that easy. I'd have to find a job in a lab probably.

My grades aren't good enough for the top 15 anyway. 3.72 is too low.
 

Espadaleader

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You should call a school.
 
Apr 23, 2013
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My grades aren't good enough for the top 15 anyway. 3.72 is too low.
This is objectively false. For one thing, the AVERAGE GPA at Top 10s is often 3.7something.

For another I have one top 10 acceptance already and have interviewed at several others with a GPA in the low 3.7s.

There's a lot of misconception about stats and the top schools. Stats are a bar that you have to get over (and not as sky-high as most people think). You get accepted or rejected from these schools on the basis of your ECs.
 

teenyfish

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I'd say research is important and will definitely help you, but not absolutely mandatory. I got my position by emailing a few professors that I had taken classes with and asking if they needed any help in the lab. Only one got back to me. At first it was more washing dishes and doing whatever work no one else wanted to do, but now I'm working on my own project. You just have to be proactive about it.
 

ciestar

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I applied to a few entry level research jobs, so we'll see. I currently work at CVS and it's not cutting it for a bunch of reasons.

And I guess you're right about my GPA and I'm taking the mcat in a few months so then I'll know more.
 
Jul 11, 2013
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In regards to the, "How do you go about finding opportunities?" you can always ask a few of your professors! Find one of the nicer ones and present an idea to them. I did this a few weeks ago and my professor liked my research idea so I start my research next semester. He was a little reluctant because im a freshman, but i presented my idea well enough to convince him. Good luck!