Apr 11, 2016
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I currently have 1 first-author paper from bench research. Would having 2 more first-author publications (1 bench and 1 clinical) make me decently more competitive, or are the benefits minimal?

Background: my stats are barely above average, but I'd like to go to a research-heavy (ie top 20) school if possible. I have very solid and unique ECs covering all my other bases, and also have 5 national conference posters and a regional podium.
 

seeinghowitgoes

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If you want to go into research yes, more research would always be helpful...also remember that publications stay with you forever, so even beyond medical school admissions they have benefit (that is to say it's not like a college club that doesn't add value after a brief period of time).
 
OP
L
Apr 11, 2016
21
4
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Pre-Medical
If you want to go into research yes, more research would always be helpful...also remember that publications stay with you forever, so even beyond medical school admissions they have benefit (that is to say it's not like a college club that doesn't add value after a brief period of time).
I want to have research be a part of my medical career and know "pubs are forever," so I'm going to try to be as productive as possible and get these 2 papers out (if nothing else for my long-term career). However, I was primarily wondering whether there's a "plateau" effect in terms of medical school admissions, where having 3 first-author papers doesn't help much more than having 1.

And to clarify, I don't think I'll be applying MD/PhD
 

aldol16

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If you're not applying MD/PhD, then what's more important is what you got out of the research in terms of learning experience. Being able to talk about that is very important. The fact that you have a first author publication(s) will definitely make you stand out so be ready to talk in-depth about it during interviews.
 

gonnif

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If you're not applying MD/PhD, then what's more important is what you got out of the research in terms of learning experience. Being able to talk about that is very important. The fact that you have a first author publication(s) will definitely make you stand out so be ready to talk in-depth about it during interviews.
To add to this, a 2013 AAMC survey* where 127 medical admissions offices responded, found research experience is only of medium importance at private schools and of low importance to public schools as an experiential factor in offering both interview invitations and acceptance. Healthcare experience, community service/volunteer experience, experience with underserved populations, navigated through cultural barriers or challenges, leadership experience were considered of higher importance in factors for interview invites and offers of acceptances

*https://www.aamc.org/download/434596/data/usingmcatdata2016.pdf
see page 3 (pdf p7) Table 1. Mean Importance Ratings of Academic, Experiential, and Demographic Application Data Used by Admissions Committees for Making Decisions about Which Applicants to Receive an Interview Invitation and Offer Acceptance (N=127)
 

Bethany555

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In my experience, people vastly over-estimate how deeply you will be asked about research except in MD/PhD interviews.

When I applied, I went to ~15 interviews (1-3 interviewers each). I had multiple publications, including one first-author. The questions I got in 90% of interviews:

"Tell me about your research."
"Why aren't you applying MD/PhD?"

I just memorized a clear, succinct one-minute monologue, since I was asked it so often. They usually just commented on how many research opportunities their school had, certain PI's I might be interested in working with, etc. Maybe they would ask a broad follow-up question like: "Tell me about a challenge you overcame in research?" or "What was the most rewarding thing about research?" or " Do you see yourself in a career in academic medicine?"

No one wants to hear about specific experiments or the detailed biochemical underpinning of your research. Summarize your research as you would to a high-school student and have some answers to big-picture questions.
 
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BeachBlondie

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In my experience, people vastly over-estimate how deeply you will be asked about research except in MD/PhD interviews.

When I applied, I went to ~15 interviews (1-3 intervie each). I had multiple publications, including one first-author. The questions I got in 90% of interviews:

"Tell me about your research."
"Why aren't you applying MD/PhD?"

I just memorized a clear, succinct one-minute monologue, since I was asked it so often. They usually just commented on how many research opportunities their school had, certain PI's I might be interested in working with, etc. Maybe they would ask a broad follow-up question like: "Tell me about a challenge you overcame in research?" or "What was the most rewarding thing about research?" or " Do you see yourself in a career in academic medicine?"

No one wants to hear about specific experiments or the detailed biochemical underpinning of your research. Summarize your research as you would to a high-school student and have some answers to big-picture questions.
Can confirm this. I have over 20 publications (between manuscripts, book chapters, and supplements) to show for almost 8 years of research. I got a lot of, "You have more research than any applicant we've seen," but was waitlisted both years that I applied because of an underdog GPA. Research looks good, but unless you're trying to go MD/PhD it's not going to afford you much extra. In my case, each new thing I put out is mired in diminishing returns.

Take your publication and run.
 
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aldol16

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Can confirm this. I have over 20 publications (between manuscripts, book chapters, and supplements) to show for almost 8 years of research. I got a lot of, "You have more research than any applicant we've seen," but was waitlisted both years that I applied because of an underdog GPA. Research looks good, but unless you're trying to go MD/PhD it's not going to afford you much extra. In my case, each new thing I put out is mired in diminishing returns.
I hope the majority of those 8 years were spent getting your PhD!
 
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BeachBlondie

Put some tussin on it!
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I hope the majority of those 8 years were spent getting your PhD!
Naw, spent rerouting myself from having been a sportscaster to pre-med to now..... "seasoned" pre-med ;)
 
OP
L
Apr 11, 2016
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Pre-Medical
So it looks like for most schools it's hugely diminishing returns, to the point of almost being useless.

1) Does this hold just as true for top 20s?
2) What about a few of the research powerhouse programs like Cleveland Clinic Lerner College, UCSF, etc?
3) If I did decide to apply MD/PhD, would 3 vs 1 be a huge benefit?

Again, keeping in mind my stats aren't much above average
 

Bethany555

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So it looks like for most schools it's hugely diminishing returns, to the point of almost being useless.

1) Does this hold just as true for top 20s?
2) What about a few of the research powerhouse programs like Cleveland Clinic Lerner College, UCSF, etc?
3) If I did decide to apply MD/PhD, would 3 vs 1 be a huge benefit?

Again, keeping in mind my stats aren't much above average
From LizzyM (to an otherwise great applicant with a 3.7/33):
If the rest of your application is stellar and you think you otherwise have what it takes to get into a top tier school, you need to add at least 3 (or 6) points to your MCAT. (Six points for schools that will average your two scores.) If you think that you can accomplish that, go for it. Every year we interview at least one person who has done this and every year one adcom member says, "Who retakes a 33?" and I reply, "Someone who wants to go here." and we laugh because we know we would not have given the same applicant an interview with just the 33.​

The average MCAT for private top-20 schools is a 3.9/37. The bottom 10th percentile ranges from a ~3.6-3.75 GPA and ~32-34 MCAT. The average stats for MD/PhD applicants is higher (though they are given some slack on non-research EC's). Most people on the lower end in-terms of stats are URMs, VIPs, and extraordinary individuals.

If you had a 3.8/36 (and the requisite volunteering, etc.), I would say go all-in on research. Otherwise, if your life goal is a top 20 school, I would spend the 500 hours you would be doing research studying for the MCAT. If you are okay with any medical school and have everything else covered, continue doing research - publications will stay with you forever.
 
OP
L
Apr 11, 2016
21
4
Status
Pre-Medical
From LizzyM (to an otherwise great applicant with a 3.7/33):
If the rest of your application is stellar and you think you otherwise have what it takes to get into a top tier school, you need to add at least 3 (or 6) points to your MCAT. (Six points for schools that will average your two scores.) If you think that you can accomplish that, go for it. Every year we interview at least one person who has done this and every year one adcom member says, "Who retakes a 33?" and I reply, "Someone who wants to go here." and we laugh because we know we would not have given the same applicant an interview with just the 33.​

The average MCAT for private top-20 schools is a 3.9/37. The bottom 10th percentile ranges from a ~3.6-3.75 GPA and ~32-34 MCAT. The average stats for MD/PhD applicants is higher (though they are given some slack on non-research EC's). Most people on the lower end in-terms of stats are URMs, VIPs, and extraordinary individuals.

If you had a 3.8/36 (and the requisite volunteering, etc.), I would say go all-in on research. Otherwise, if your life goal is a top 20 school, I would spend the 500 hours you would be doing research studying for the MCAT. If you are okay with any medical school and have everything else covered, continue doing research - publications will stay with you forever.
I have a 3.8 cGPA, 3.65 sGPA, and am just about to start studying for the MCAT. The rest of my ECs are solidly covered, I was just trying to gauge how hard I should push to get these two other projects finished, written up, and accepted before June of next year. So if I want to be competitive for research-heavy schools (with my GPA in mind) it sounds like I should drop everything for the MCAT right now, as a 36 + 1 first author is waaaaaay better than a 33 + 3 first authors?
 

Bethany555

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I have a 3.8 cGPA, 3.65 sGPA, and am just about to start studying for the MCAT. The rest of my ECs are solidly covered, I was just trying to gauge how hard I should push to get these two other projects finished, written up, and accepted before June of next year. So if I want to be competitive for research-heavy schools (with my GPA in mind) it sounds like I should drop everything for the MCAT right now, as a 36 + 1 first author is waaaaaay better than a 33 + 3 first authors?
Good news is that your GPA is competitive. If you get a 37 on your MCAT, you would be in fantastic shape for top 20 schools. Only you can gauge how much time research will take, and how it will affect your MCAT studying. When are you planning to take the MCAT?

Personally, I would not push to finish the basic science study until after your MCAT. First, you need to complete the experiments, write up the paper, and submit it (perhaps multiple times). If the reviewers ask for additional experiments, it could take an exorbitant amount of time to finish. There is no guarantee you'll have it accepted by June. After your MCAT, you can push as hard as you want and send an update letter in the winter if it was accepted.

If the clinical paper is near completion, you could maybe consider finishing that. I've done database studies in a couple of weeks. If the reviewers ask for some additional analyses, the data is usually already there, and you can have a biostatistician take care of it. That is much more likely to be accepted by June and not take too much of your time. If your MCAT is in like December, I would study hard now - if your MCAT is not until like next May, then you could spend some time on the clinical project.
 
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aldol16

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2) What about a few of the research powerhouse programs like Cleveland Clinic Lerner College, UCSF, etc?
I have a 3.8 cGPA, 3.65 sGPA, and am just about to start studying for the MCAT. The rest of my ECs are solidly covered, I was just trying to gauge how hard I should push to get these two other projects finished, written up, and accepted before June of next year. So if I want to be competitive for research-heavy schools (with my GPA in mind) it sounds like I should drop everything for the MCAT right now, as a 36 + 1 first author is waaaaaay better than a 33 + 3 first authors?
If you already have a first-author publication and can talk intelligently about it, then you're already ahead of the curve on research. It would be concerning if you had no research experience and was applying to CCLCM but that's not the case here.

In my opinion, you should always be aiming for a high MCAT score - ECs come after that.
 

seeinghowitgoes

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So it looks like for most schools it's hugely diminishing returns, to the point of almost being useless.

1) Does this hold just as true for top 20s?
2) What about a few of the research powerhouse programs like Cleveland Clinic Lerner College, UCSF, etc?
3) If I did decide to apply MD/PhD, would 3 vs 1 be a huge benefit?

Again, keeping in mind my stats aren't much above average
I won't speak broadly on if it matters for all top 20s, but yes multiple first authors help at some of the top research focused programs (Cleveland Clinic, etc). That's not to say that one first author pub isn't already ahead of the curve, but more than one definitely helps.

I suppose I disagree with some of the "one is already more than you need" talk because I think it depends on what your narrative is. If you're applying as the physician-researcher and you want to be known as "the research guy" when your picture gets thrown up for discussion (and assuming stats and mcat are golden) then I personally think you should be the most accomplished "research guy" in the pool and thus each additional experience really does add something.

If you don't want to be that guy, if you have some other narrative for yourself you'd like to convey, then sure, the extra research probably doesn't add much.
 

aldol16

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I suppose I disagree with some of the "one is already more than you need" talk because I think it depends on what your narrative is. If you're applying as the physician-researcher and you want to be known as "the research guy" when your picture gets thrown up for discussion (and assuming stats and mcat are golden) then I personally think you should be the most accomplished "research guy" in the pool and thus each additional experience really does add something.
I think you overestimate how many undergraduates have first-author publications by the time they apply. It's not a common thing and a first-author publication will likely already make you "that guy" so more first-author publications would offer diminishing returns.