305602

Guest
Jan 17, 2010
102
0
Sunny So Cal
Status
Pre-Medical
Hey all,

I'm planning on getting started doing research this spring/this summer, but I'm wondering if I should do it at all.
I'd like to do at least 6 months - 1 year of research so I can get an idea of what a career in research might be like as well as look more appealing in my MDapp.
I'm wondering, though, if research is right for me. I do fine in all the lab sections of my classes, but I don't tend to enjoy them near as much as I do the lecture portions of these classes.
I absolutely love learning the concepts and understanding what's going on chemically when I use certain techniques in ochem lab, for example. But as far as actually performing the experiments, I'm a bit disinterested.

Is research just more of what I don't like? I'll probably give it a trial run and find out for myself but in the grand scheme of things if I'm not all that interested in the experimental side of things should I even bother applying to schools that emphasize such?

Thanks :)
 

chrisoc13

Brand New Member
Jun 26, 2010
407
1
Status
Pre-Medical
Hey all,

I'm planning on getting started doing research this spring/this summer, but I'm wondering if I should do it at all.
I'd like to do at least 6 months - 1 year of research so I can get an idea of what a career in research might be like as well as look more appealing in my MDapp.
I'm wondering, though, if research is right for me. I do fine in all the lab sections of my classes, but I don't tend to enjoy them near as much as I do the lecture portions of these classes.
I absolutely love learning the concepts and understanding what's going on chemically when I use certain techniques in ochem lab, for example. But as far as actually performing the experiments, I'm a bit disinterested.

Is research just more of what I don't like? I'll probably give it a trial run and find out for myself but in the grand scheme of things if I'm not all that interested in the experimental side of things should I even bother applying to schools that emphasize such?

Thanks :)
Well it is probably very dependent on your school and PI, but my research experience has been nothing like lab classes. The most important difference is that in lab classes they are trying to simulate research, but in all reality you are simply replicating someone else's experience. In true reseaerch you are learning new things, expanding our knowledge and not simply replicating what has been done before. Most of the techniques are obviously not new but the goal and material being researched is usually at least somewhat uncharted territory.

It also matters how involved your PI lets you get. For instance in some labs the undergrads simply do grunt work. In that case it wouldn't be much fun. But in other labs the PI lets you really get your hands on the research and run with it. In my experience that makes it an enjoyable experience and a rewarding one as well.

There will always be some monotony to performing lab work but if you get in the right lab you might find there is less. A lab I worked in even let students perform surgical procedures on rats and whatnot. Pretty interesting stuff and nothing like a lab class.
 

apumic

Oracle of the Sheet
10+ Year Member
7+ Year Member
Jan 1, 2007
3,924
7
Denver, CO
Status
Medical Student
Try something other than typical chem/bio research and you'll be fine. Research of an organic molecule, for instance, will feel an awful lot like ochem lab at times; however, research in a physio lab or psych lab (e.g., w/ ECGs or even cognitive or social psych research) is going to be very different and may be much more enjoyable to you if you find it's difficult to remain particularly jazzed about certain "lab techniques."
 

cfx

10+ Year Member
7+ Year Member
Feb 11, 2009
622
1
Status
Pre-Medical
The two are very different. If you work in a lab, you're bound to be using much more sophisticated and interesting techniques. You'll also be problem solving, and it's pretty rewarding to get results you've been working toward for weeks (it's also extremely frustrating when you don't). The biggest difference is that you're actually trying to answer a very real question, whereas lab courses are designed to demonstrate concepts through simple prescribed protocols where the result is already known. There's no real question.

Find a lab that's doing something you're interested in, and investigating a problem that you want to be a part of.
 

tr0gd0r

grrr.
Jul 24, 2009
339
0
VA
Status
Try something other than typical chem/bio research and you'll be fine. Research of an organic molecule, for instance, will feel an awful lot like ochem lab at times; however, research in a physio lab or psych lab (e.g., w/ ECGs or even cognitive or social psych research) is going to be very different and may be much more enjoyable to you if you find it's difficult to remain particularly jazzed about certain "lab techniques."
I agree with this. No one says you have to do bench research (though if that's what you're interested in, totally go for it). I have absolutely zero bench research experience, but I do have 6 semesters (not including the year and a half I'll have spent in my current job) of research involvement in social, adolescent, and cognitive psych labs, and in an affective neuroscience lab. Clinical research would maybe appeal to you if you think you might not be interested in bench work.
 

Narmerguy

Moderator Emeritus
10+ Year Member
Jul 14, 2007
6,878
1,299
My understanding of bench research has been that it is very different from lab. Similar techniques may be performed at times but the similarities stop there.

For my part, I do computational research so there's no similarity at all.
 

WorldChanger36

7+ Year Member
Sep 22, 2009
3,047
694
NY
Status
Resident [Any Field]
I feel the learning experience is way better in the research then in the been done thousands of times lab. Research is real science and lab is more hands on lecture. You will uses alot of the techniques you learn in lab in research but what you learn and the power of having your education in your own heads is quite the experience.

So not really like lab.... IMO
 

Charles_Carmichael

Moderator Emeritus
10+ Year Member
7+ Year Member
May 11, 2008
4,078
41
Status
Non-Student
At least in biological fields, I would say no, lab courses are nothing like research. What really distinguishes conducting research from taking lab courses is that research requires a lot more critical thinking. In my experience, lab courses were all about just following the protocol for a method and writing an analysis of the results which don't require much thinking (since they're nothing novel). The novelty of research and the design of experiments is a far greater intellectual challenge than a lab course could be, at least in biology. And that's the biggest (and most important) distinction, IMO.
 
Last edited:

surftheiop

10+ Year Member
Dec 4, 2008
1,940
27
Status
If you can take a bioengineering lab its pretty going experience similar to research, because they tend to structure them around the research format. (Ie you research the literature, propose a project, prof rounds up supplies, you do project, run the stats, present to class, etc.)
 

Charles_Carmichael

Moderator Emeritus
10+ Year Member
7+ Year Member
May 11, 2008
4,078
41
Status
Non-Student
If you can take a bioengineering lab its pretty going experience similar to research, because they tend to structure them around the research format. (Ie you research the literature, propose a project, prof rounds up supplies, you do project, run the stats, present to class, etc.)
Do you get the opportunity to publish if the findings are novel? Just curious since I would've loved to have lab courses that encouraged the pursuit of novel research, especially if there were nice rewards involved (ie. chance to publish the work).
 

apumic

Oracle of the Sheet
10+ Year Member
7+ Year Member
Jan 1, 2007
3,924
7
Denver, CO
Status
Medical Student
Do you get the opportunity to publish if the findings are novel? Just curious since I would've loved to have lab courses that encouraged the pursuit of novel research, especially if there were nice rewards involved (ie. chance to publish the work).
My research methods class certainly did. I and some other students that I know of actually did go on to publish results from our studies done in that course. To do so basically meant you transitioned into that professor's lab and then worked with her to take your good paper and experiment from "excellent first UG project" to "professional quality draft" but the push was definitely there.
 

chrisoc13

Brand New Member
Jun 26, 2010
407
1
Status
Pre-Medical
i totally disagree. i think lab classes just try to teach you techniques. that's it.
Sometimes. But if you do an organic chemistry lab they make you do write ups to "teach you how to do research." That is why the ACS standards make you do write ups in those classes. Or so my ochem prof told me.

But you can disagree. I don't really see how that part was relevant. My point was that labs do not equal research.
 

soundnin

7+ Year Member
Jul 13, 2010
440
1
lost in translation
Status
MD/PhD Student
Sometimes. But if you do an organic chemistry lab they make you do write ups to "teach you how to do research." That is why the ACS standards make you do write ups in those classes. Or so my ochem prof told me.

But you can disagree. I don't really see how that part was relevant. My point was that labs do not equal research.
yeah, i know we're saying the same thing for the most part, but i just wanted to emphasize how there is absolutely no correlation at all in my mind between research and lab courses. even the techniques taught in lab courses can be trivial compared to what you find yourself actually doing in lab. but that totally depends on what field you're working in.

i don't really get why you brought up "write ups" though.
 

glasshalfMD

40 weeks til MD?
Apr 27, 2010
727
1
Status
Medical Student
IMO, no one likes labs.

haha.

research is different. espeeecially clinical research, FTW! :thumbup:
 

chrisoc13

Brand New Member
Jun 26, 2010
407
1
Status
Pre-Medical
yeah, i know we're saying the same thing for the most part, but i just wanted to emphasize how there is absolutely no correlation at all in my mind between research and lab courses. even the techniques taught in lab courses can be trivial compared to what you find yourself actually doing in lab. but that totally depends on what field you're working in.

i don't really get why you brought up "write ups" though.
Oh that is just something my prof said a couple of years ago that the ACS tried to make it like research. I agree it is nothing like it though. The write ups was something the ACS asks Ochem labs do apparently to simulate research. Which doesn't make too much sense to me but I was just sharing my experience.

I agree though they are very dissimilar. Techniques may be the same but in the end there is very little in common.
 

shishka32

10+ Year Member
Apr 26, 2008
217
23
Status
Medical Student
I don't really like chem and bio labs. But research is wicked cool. You don't get to do ICV and IV catheter implants on rats in Ochem I lab. They are completely different.
 

surftheiop

10+ Year Member
Dec 4, 2008
1,940
27
Status
Do you get the opportunity to publish if the findings are novel? Just curious since I would've loved to have lab courses that encouraged the pursuit of novel research, especially if there were nice rewards involved (ie. chance to publish the work).
I think its rare for the results to be publishable because the experiments are pretty much completely thought up by students (ie. its not like we have a PI who is an expert in X field, who has a fully set-up/financed lab necessary to use all of the techniques that would be expected for a modern publication in the field)

So we are working with really limited resources, in a way it feels kind of like we are doing research with the tools a "cutting edge" researcher would have had 25 years ago. But the point is to teach how to do research, which never really changes, despite the fancier toys/gadgets.