Publishing research in medical school vs undergrad, differences?

Jun 22, 2020
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I know at some 1 year preclinical schools like Duke, you get an entire year for research. This seems great, but I am just wondering: how is medical student research different from undergrad research?

I've spent the last two years in a basic science lab and no publications in sight. I imagine as a medical student I'll have even less time. How do medical students possibly get published for those residency apps? What gives?
 

TakotsuboOkazaki

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We get published in a variety of ways.

You can get listed on a publication for anything from grammatical editing, to data collection, complete independent project completion or, hell, even because the PI just likes you.

The ideal situation in medical school is that you begin to take charge of more components of a project as you work under residents/PIs in a mentor-mentee relationship.

Time is not as limited as you might think, provided you’re well organized and disciplined.

Be upfront about publication expectations up front. Strike a balance between making your goals clear without coming across with a “what can you do for me” attitude. Clinical researchers (MD/DO) will have a better feel for med student expectations in terms of tangible publications.

Also, as someone who got boned out of 1-2 papers I helped with in UG, I feel you. Good luck.
 
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Apr 9, 2020
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Currently scouting research opportunities. Been published in low ranked journals before med school (nothing crazy).

My experience is that you can really get shafted in UG with publications. Really depends on the relationship and project. Clinical research opportunities are limited if your UG university isn't closely affiliated with a health system. Even if it is you are usually competing with other research personnel (med students, postdoc, grad students) so authorship priority is shafted a lot. You end up having to work on more basic science work where results can take a while to manifest.

In med school, mentors are very much upfront with the goals of publications. Also since it's more clinical you can juggle a couple of projects at once. The mentor I am talking to is very much trying to put opportunities in front of me. I think MD/DO mentors understand how important this is for us and it reflects well on them if we publish a lot.

Most of my UG/postbacc mentors or collaborators gave me basically nothing for months of work, only the mention of an acknowledgment (which wasn't even present when I searched the article??)
 
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Jun 22, 2020
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@TakotsuboOkazaki @Yhwach

Thank you for the advice. I have been pretty upfront about my intention to publish. I was told, apart from a review paper (perhaps), it won't be happening.

Honestly, I would be fine with not publishing. I genuinely enjoy my research. But I also intend to apply to research heavy med schools, and my research will likely be a big part of my application (next cycle).

Some input: we have an affiliated health system. Would it be bad for me to email clinical professors saying "Dear Dr ___, I'm ___ in ___'s lab. I hope to [idk... gain greater clinical research exposure?]". Basically, I hate to say it, but some low hanging fruit for publication would nice.
 

TakotsuboOkazaki

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Dec 4, 2016
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@TakotsuboOkazaki @Yhwach

Thank you for the advice. I have been pretty upfront about my intention to publish. I was told, apart from a review paper (perhaps), it won't be happening.

Honestly, I would be fine with not publishing. I genuinely enjoy my research. But I also intend to apply to research heavy med schools, and my research will likely be a big part of my application (next cycle).

Some input: we have an affiliated health system. Would it be bad for me to email clinical professors saying "Dear Dr ___, I'm ___ in ___'s lab. I hope to [idk... gain greater clinical research exposure?]". Basically, I hate to say it, but some low hanging fruit for publication would nice.

IMO this is the general thing you want to get across:

1.) I am interested in specialty X (that PI practices/researches in). Doesn't have to be a die hard interest but it helps to not just say "looking to jump hoops here doc can I work with ya?"

2.) You are aware research is a way to explore topics in field X as well as learn research techniques necessary for residency/fellowship/academic medicine.

3.) You are willing to contribute in whatever way possible.

Something I have found useful is doing a bit of reading into a certain topic and pitching some ideas to the PI. Worst case they say "those ideas are trash/already been studied to death, but you seem enthusiastic so how about this project?"
 
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