Research discussion thread

Discussion in 'Physician Scientists' started by randallB, May 4, 2004.

  1. randallB

    randallB fear the krab
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    Hi all,
    Since research experience is a key component of admission to MSTP programs, and because those who want to do these kinds of research-intense opportunities should have a love of it, I was wondering if anyone would be willing to share a brief overview of their current research and how they decided to choose the lab/field that they are in as of now.
    I know that for myself, I'm coming out of a Neuroscience program in undergraduate, and a bioengineering/neuroscience laboratory, so as of now, these experiences have had a significant impact on my own research interests and my own current job search and future MSTP program search.

    Thanks,
    ~Randall
     
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  2. Neuronix

    Neuronix Total nerd
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  3. Reimat

    Reimat Friend of talking skulls
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    Since this is a research discussion thread, I was wondering if anyone could clarify what makes you a first vs. second vs. associate (if that's the right term) author of a research paper. It seems like the lead scientist would be the first author- so does working on a Professor's research with them make you a second author, and can there be multiple second authors? I really only have my best guesses, and hopefully someone can clarify. Thanks.
     
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  4. ninebillion

    ninebillion Senior Member
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    First author is simply the first name listed on the publication, second author is the second, and so on. From my experience, the name of the professor (or "lead scientist") in whose lab the work was carried out is included last.

    Has anyone encountered anything different from this modality?
     
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  5. agp4

    agp4 Senior Member
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    That seems about right. The principal investigator (the guy whose lab you're working in) usually goes last. You can usually tell who the PI is because he'll be listed as the corresponding author. The first author is usually the person who did the majority of the grunt work (i.e. the grad student, postdoc, undergrad,...), and he is literally the first name on the list of authors.

    The only time I've seen that system work differently are review articles (because usually there aren't any experiments being run) and really important articles (NEJM, Science, Cell, Nature,etc.). There, I've seen the PI list himself as the first author. I hope this clears things up!
     
  6. pseudoknot

    Physician PhD Faculty Lifetime Donor Verified Account 10+ Year Member

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    Actually, I can't comment on NEJM, but in Science, Nature, and Cell it's also the custom to have the PI or head of lab as the last author, except in unusual circumstances.
     
  7. Bander

    Bander Junior Member
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    One of my mentors operated under the system that to be first author, you should have done at least 2/3 things:
    1) Data analysis
    2) Data collection
    3) Written the discussion section
    This would certainly vary with the project but seems to apply in general.
     
  8. coldchemist

    coldchemist Biowulf
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    Just thought I'd throw this in.

    According to several sources (Harvard publication policies, NIH policies), the order of the authors isn't supposed to have any significance whatsoever.

    That said, the people who make those policies probably either don't do research anymore, or they're so competitive that they're just trying to throw everyone else off. :D
     
  9. microTAS

    microTAS ulna you didn't
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    I've encountered (chemical) engineering publications in Science that had the PI as first author. In Korea, at least for mechanical engineering, the PI is always first author. I haven't ever encountered such a case in a non-review paper for biology.

     
  10. skiz knot

    skiz knot Legendary Dr. X
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    The PI is generally listed last, and as the corresponding author (because theoretically they aren't going anywhere, and will continue to work in the same field, whereas a grad student may choose a post-doc in a completely different field and won't remain current in the field). In the cases where (s)he is listed first is probably because they carried out the bulk of the work.
     
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  11. Reimat

    Reimat Friend of talking skulls
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    Thanks to people for their responses to my question. :thumbup:
     
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  12. Reimat

    Reimat Friend of talking skulls
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    Also, concerning research- how similar does (or should) it be? I mean, at this point at the end of my sophomore year in college, I don't know the exact area of research I'm really interested in. Which is why this summer I'm doing Chemistry research, but this fall I'll likely be doing robotics/neural networks research. Do schools frown upon this? I ask because I feel that getting experience in multiple areas should be a positive thing, especially as an undergrad; yet, I feel like most applicants already are more focused in a single area throughout their research experience.

    I'd be interested in hearing people's thoughts or similar experiences.
     
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  13. ninebillion

    ninebillion Senior Member
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    Research is research -- each applicant has his or her own flavor for, and focus in, research. I think the general consensus here is that it doesn't matter how much or (arguably) how little you've done, or even how many different types of projects you've been on. As long as you have done quality work that you can talk about intelligently, you're golden.

    Multiple lab experiences can be a benefit: you have a little more variety to talk about, and you may have a more informed perspective on research in various disciplines. You may also end up with a better idea of where your future interests lie. Likewise, a long-term, single lab experience can be a benefit: you may have an opportunity to carve a niche in your field of interest early on, you may have a chance to publish, etc.

    Also, since you're just finishing your sophomore year, you've still got time. If you end up liking the robotics/neural nets research in the fall (or if you enjoyed the summer chemistry work), you may want to consider sticking with it through your junior and senior years.

    Sorry I got so long-winded... The point here is that you don't need to worry about having a varied research experience. Have fun with your research, and you'll be fine. Good luck! :)
     
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  14. adesua

    adesua Member
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    Although some may work in the same area in grad school as they did undergrad, this is totally not required. Even grad students often change their area of research when they become post-docs how much more undergrads going into grad school. So the morale is that don't feel like as a sophomore you have to start thinking what you'll be doing, researchwise for the rest of your life.

    Having said that though my personal bias is that unless there is some strong reason for switching labs e.g.
    1. location - your location in the summer is different from your location during the semester
    2. you don't get on well with your PI or people in the lab. Labwork is supposed to be an enjoyable experience and I am saddened when I hear of people who decide not to do research because of avoidable factors like bad interpersonal relations
    3. the lab work is stagnant and you are not feeling productive.

    Although having published (a) paper(s) is not required it definitely does help and in general it is more likely that you will publish the longer you spend in a lab which will be more difficult to happen if you are flitting from 1 lab to another.

    My advice is that the focus of labwork in the undergraduate should not be to learn science in different fields. Those are just details. The focus should be on experiencing the facets of being a researcher that are extrinsic to the particular subject matter. In this sense, the field in which you decide to do your research becomes a means rather than an end in itself. If you want to broaden your knowledge in different fields you can read reviews or just do something small on the side or take a class about them. But under normal circumstances, I vote for having had extensive research experience in 1 or 2 labs rather than having several research exposures.
     
  15. ManchotPi

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    #15 ManchotPi, May 12, 2004
    Last edited: Sep 16, 2017

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