Publishing: Impact factors/Author level question.

dohlo

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So I am 2 years out of undergrad and have been working in a neurology research lab since graduation. Our lab recently published in a journal with impact factor of ~4.8 where I appear as 4th author, and contributed quite a bit to the study. So I'm thinking cool, I got my publication under my belt and this should provide a significant boost to my application. (I have to make up for a relatively low gpa, MCAT scores pending).

I am thinking of waiting a year to apply for the following reasons:

We are now finishing up a paper where I will appear as 2nd author and we are planning to submit to journals with around 8-10 IF and i am confident that we will be able to publish in a journal with an impact factor of at least 5. The problem is that by the time our article is accepted, med school applications will most likely be out and in the process of review.

We are finishing another project that has potential for publishing in a journal with an impact factor ~20 which I think we should have finished by next year also.

So in short: Do I apply now with one publication in a reputable journal, or wait a year and apply with more? At what point will the adcom stop being impressed with publications?

And of course I am ready to matriculate this year, but am very willing to wait if it means i will get into better schools...
 

randombetch

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If you already have a publication, then another publication will only help marginally...

Any publication is a big deal. You're already in the top 10% of most schools in terms of research with a publication (and maybe top 5% at some less research oriented schools).
 

Morsetlis

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2 is twice as much as 1. 3 is only 1.5x as much as 2. As you can see, diminishing returns.

;p
 
Mar 1, 2010
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A publication will definitely stand out and should help your application quite a bit (depending on the school). However, that said, I think having this 2nd publication where you will be listed as the second author will help you even more so than fourth author publication.

IMO, in terms of authorship for med school admission purposes:
1st > 2nd >>>> 3rd >>>>>>> 4th

Congratulations!
 

drizzt3117

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I wouldn't worry about IF so much for the purposes of MD only admissions. So few applicants have significant research experience that any research experience is good.
 
Mar 1, 2010
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Agreed. IFs don't matter much when it comes to MD only admission purposes.
 

thesauce

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If you don't apply, you'll be asking the same question in a year (i.e. should I wait one more year to publish this 1st author manuscript...). Such is the nature of research. I wouldn't wait any longer if you're sure you want to go to med school. Congrats on the publications and good luck!
 

phoenixsuns

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apply now and then send an update letter later on. you can also mention that you and your PI are writing a manuscript and will be submitting during the application cycle. for the most part, a publication isn't going to make a difference between rejection and acceptance. more like waitlist and acceptance. it's also nice to have a reason to update schools and say "hey i'm second author on this paper" if you do get on any waitlists
 

drizzt3117

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The other thing is that in many ways, publishing in a high impact journal as a premed won't help you as much as you might think. If you were a grad student, and were published in a journal with a IF of ~20 (Cell, Nature Genetics, Science, etc) it would make much more sense. A lab submits its best work to top journals and sure, being along for the ride is better than not being published, but in a lot of ways, it just looks incongruous.

It can, however, be a talking point at interviews, you just have to be aware people are going to be skeptical. I was on a paper that was in nejm and got grilled about it at every interview, sometimes to the exclusion of everything else. Then again, I was a grad student when I did the work.