Halcyon32

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Hey guys, I was wondering if it is at all possible for an undergrad student to do research on their own, without any academic affiliation. By this I mean searching the internet for scholarly articles and compiling all the information relevant to my topic into a research paper and explaining the results of my search. I'm not going to be doing any actual lab work as I don't think it is necessary for the topic I'm researching. So, is it possible for me to do this and send the finished copy to a peer reviewed journal for them to possibly publish it or is their a more rigid process to do this. If this were the case would I be the "first author" as I am the only author?
 

md-2020

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That's called a review article.

It's very very difficult to write a pub worthy article by yourself as an UG student, but yes in terms of the process what you said above is accurate. You can send it to a journal w/ you as the only author.

Getting accepted for publication at a reputed journal is no easy task, even established PIs often try several times.
 

NotASerialKiller

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That's called a review article.

It's very very difficult to write a pub worthy article by yourself as an UG student, but yes in terms of the process what you said above is accurate. You can send it to a journal w/ you as the only author.
Really? I would have thought that no legitimate journal would waste their reviewers' time by getting them to look at a manuscripts produced by some random person not affiliated with any institution.
 
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Halcyon32

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Really? I would have thought that no legitimate journal would waste their reviewers' time by getting them to look at a manuscripts produced by some random person not affiliated with any institution.
That's what i want to know! If that is the case, how can I get my school involved in it? Like I said it's not really a lab oriented review. Without going into too much detail, it's about the physiological and sociological aspects of weight gain and obesity. Also, would this type of article even be published in a medical journal or a psychology journal?
 

NotASerialKiller

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That's what i want to know! If that is the case, how can I get my school involved in it? Like I said it's not really a lab oriented review. Without going into too much detail, it's about the physiological and sociological aspects of weight gain and obesity. Also, would this type of article even be published in a medical journal or a psychology journal?
Well I'm no expert so it might very well be possible, but even if it is I'd recommending consulting someone at your school who is an expert in the area. Even if you do all the work, they could help you in writing it (maybe even just editing) as a 2nd author. That way you'd know that it was at least potentially publishable, and you'd have someone on your team who knows the system. They might have some great input in terms of where you should submit it for a realistic chance at publication etc.

An undergrad tackling this entire process solo, even if possible, does not sound like a recipe for success.
 
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Halcyon32

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Well I'm no expert so it might very well be possible, but even if it is I'd recommending consulting someone at your school who is an expert in the area. Even if you do all the work, they could help you in writing it (maybe even just editing) as a 2nd author. That way you'd know that it was at least potentially publishable, and you'd have someone on your team who knows the system. They might have some great input in terms of where you should submit it for a realistic chance at publication etc.

An undergrad tackling this entire process solo, even if possible, does not sound like a recipe for success.
I'll probably do that, it's just that I'm not in school for a semester so I won't get a chance to get help from anyone until the spring semester so I figured I would use this time to write the majority of it out and just get a knowledgeable professor to proofread and edit it. If that means he is second author, fine by me
 
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Really? I would have thought that no legitimate journal would waste their reviewers' time by getting them to look at a manuscripts produced by some random person not affiliated with any institution.
That seems very pretentious. I hope journals would at least read all submitted manuscripts first - who knows where the next revelation in our fundamental understanding of the world could come from. Get your point though.
 

md-2020

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@NotASerialKiller unfortunately what you said is definitely a factor, as reviewers will note institution affiliation/experience. However for reviews this is less of an issue, since the OP is not proposing/reporting on actual lab findings. Theoretically anyone can write an equally good review, regardless of age/degrees etc.

But its very hard. Journals are quite selective on what is worthy of pub, so don't half ass it.

I spent like a year writing a review on sports med/injury treatment (had it edited by my lab PI though, and put him on as senior/2nd author), and got it published so it can definitely be done
 

Gandyy

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@NotASerialKiller unfortunately what you said is definitely a factor, as reviewers will note institution affiliation/experience. However for reviews this is less of an issue, since the OP is not proposing/reporting on actual lab findings. Theoretically anyone can write an equally good review, regardless of age/degrees etc.

But its very hard. Journals are quite selective on what is worthy of pub, so don't half ass it.

I spent like a year writing a review on sports med/injury treatment (had it edited by my lab PI though, and put him on as senior/2nd author), and got it published so it can definitely be done
Are you applying this cycle man?
 

danib2k15

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IMO, even if it is possible, you would gain very valuable experience doing lab work. While publishing is wonderful, the process of getting published while working in a lab would probably be more beneficial and meaningful. You would have the ability to learn from and work alongside others, gain critical analytical skills, solve real-life problems in real time, etc. etc. You can then talk about these experiences and use the fact that you published as a demonstration of how well you learned and worked with your team.

Also, that doesn't mean that you can't simultaneously write your review article if it interests you that deeply.
 

md-2020

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Did Harvard give you a pass on the med school part and put you on radiation oncology in MGH yet?
Haha thx for the confidence man, but no one is a shoo-in for top schools.

I don't have IIs from any Ivys yet actually. Not even my alma mater
 
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Halcyon32

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@NotASerialKiller unfortunately what you said is definitely a factor, as reviewers will note institution affiliation/experience. However for reviews this is less of an issue, since the OP is not proposing/reporting on actual lab findings. Theoretically anyone can write an equally good review, regardless of age/degrees etc.

But its very hard. Journals are quite selective on what is worthy of pub, so don't half ass it.

I spent like a year writing a review on sports med/injury treatment (had it edited by my lab PI though, and put him on as senior/2nd author), and got it published so it can definitely be done
Thank you! that's really encouraging. I'll work hard on it this semester and have a professor edit it in the spring
 
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danib2k15

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@NotASerialKiller unfortunately what you said is definitely a factor, as reviewers will note institution affiliation/experience. However for reviews this is less of an issue, since the OP is not proposing/reporting on actual lab findings. Theoretically anyone can write an equally good review, regardless of age/degrees etc.

But its very hard. Journals are quite selective on what is worthy of pub, so don't half ass it.

I spent like a year writing a review on sports med/injury treatment (had it edited by my lab PI though, and put him on as senior/2nd author), and got it published so it can definitely be done
But you are a genius and if it took you half a year...well then...for the rest of us 2?
 
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md-2020

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But you are a genius and if it took you half a year...well then...for the rest of us a 2?
Me having high stats =/= genius

In fact, most of you SDNers probably have better grades than me! I only pulled a 3.3 in HS and 3.7 in college (by boosting my cGPA and sGPA w/ easy science electives :p). I've done a ton of stuff outside of school, but academically I am most certainly not at the top of the pyramid.

Thanks for the kind words though :D

I don't think it'd take anyone significantly longer than me to write a review. A year is more than sufficient if you know what you're doing
 
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Halcyon32

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Me having high stats =/= genius

In fact, most of you SDNers probably have better grades than me! I only pulled a 3.3 in HS and 3.7 in college (by boosting my cGPA and sGPA w/ easy science electives :p). I've done a ton of stuff outside of school, but academically I am most certainly not at the top of the pyramid.

Thanks for the kind words though :D

I don't think it'd take anyone significantly longer than me to write a review. A year is more than sufficient if you know what you're doing
Are you some kind of SDN celebrity/prodigy/male model that I should know about?
 
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md-2020

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Are you some kind of SDN celebrity/prodigy/male model that I should know about?
Nahh haha

I just have a very solid, well rounded app.

Usually my MDapps is linked but its been down across SDN so that's why it's not obvi
 
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Halcyon32

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Nahh haha

I just have a very solid, well rounded app.

Usually my MDapps is linked but its been down across SDN so that's why it's not obvi
Oh right on, good on ya! If I ever need advice I know who to find :D
 
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Shirafune

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I would discourage you from pursuing an independent review article project. I have actually never read a paper where even a single author did not have an academic affiliation. Instead, find a PI who is willing to sponsor you and write a review on a related topic. You can still be first author and will likely carry the same departmental affiliation as your PI (i.e. Department of X, Y University).

Why don't you read a few review articles in areas you are interested in? It's more than compiling data from multiple papers and summarizing results. You need to organize your thoughts into the major themes of the field. You may need to frame the basic science research in a contemporary biomedical issue, though this depends on "how basic science" the field is. You will need to discuss current obstacles and dissenting hypotheses. There is a lot to consider.
 
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Halcyon32

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I would discourage you from pursuing an independent review article project. I have actually never read a paper where even a single author did not have an academic affiliation. Instead, find a PI who is willing to sponsor you and write a review on a related topic. You can still be first author and will likely carry the same departmental affiliation as your PI (i.e. Department of X, Y University).

Why don't you read a few review articles in areas you are interested in? It's more than compiling data from multiple papers and summarizing results. You need to organize your thoughts into the major themes of the field. You may need to frame the basic science research in a contemporary biomedical issue, though this depends on "how basic science" the field is. You will need to discuss current obstacles and dissenting hypotheses. There is a lot to consider.
Thank you for the constructive advice! I plan on writing out the majority of the paper on my own since I'm not currently at school and then have a professor look at it and sponsor me if need be. What exactly is a PI, btw?
 
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Halcyon32

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I would strongly caution you against this plan as it is highly likely to be a total waste of your time.

Writing a review article is not as simple as simply googling some articles and then putting a paper together.

Broadly speaking there are two major types of review articles - "narrative" reviews and "systematic" reviews. You are basically describing a narrative review - read the literature and summarize the articles that you think are pertinent or interesting.

No one is going to publish a narrative review from an undergrad. Narrative reviews typically come from leaders in the field and often are invited by the journal. The reason for this is that to really pick out the pertinent articles and put together a coherent paper, you need to already have a strong grasp of the existing literature and credibility to back up your review, otherwise it would be viewed as cherrypicking/naivete/not knowing the field well.

A systematic review is hard to write and requires a lot of work and a fair amount of background research knowledge. Often it requires the input of a research librarian to help you conduct a thorough and legitimate literature review, to ensure you have captured all of the relevant articles out there.
I thought I read somewhere that when submitting the review/paper the journal doesn't know whether or not you're an undergrad
 

Shirafune

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Thank you for the constructive advice! I plan on writing out the majority of the paper on my own since I'm not currently at school and then have a professor look at it and sponsor me if need be. What exactly is a PI, btw?
Again, I think your approach will cause you a lot of grief. I can't imagine working that long on a paper only for it to not get anywhere because you can't get an established scientist to vouch for you as a senior author! Find a PI very early on that will agree to at least look over your work in progress and tell you if he/she is interested in pursuing it any further. You will write the majority of the paper, but the PI should advise and guide your work as it progresses. If you write the paper first, you are tunneling yourself into a very narrow and specific field which likely only has a very small handful of scientists at your home institution.

PI stands for Principal Investigator. He/she is usually the sole professor heading the lab, though there are other hierarchical models in academia where there can be more than one PI within a professor's lab.
 
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StudyLater

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Really? I would have thought that no legitimate journal would waste their reviewers' time by getting them to look at a manuscripts produced by some random person not affiliated with any institution.
It's possible some do this, but silencing the work of those not affiliated with an institution would be extremely damaging.

I thought I read somewhere that when submitting the review/paper the journal doesn't know whether or not you're an undergrad
They may ask for it during your submission, i.e. some dropdown menu for you to choose your academic rank.
 

StudyLater

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@SouthernSurgeon I've always been under the impression nearly every paper cherrypicks to some degree. One simply needs to show that they have considered other POVs/counterarguments to show a reasonable open-mindedness, with the appropriate references attached. But covering things exhaustively, particularly in a review paper? Very, very difficult.

This is all to say that, a UG review will be discriminated against on the basis of the author's rank, despite how well it is written or how thoroughly the referenced works are representing the field.
 

StudyLater

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But that's the whole point - if a narrative review by definition cherry-picks, you want an expert to be doing the picking. Otherwise it lacks face credibility.
If we're being brutally practical -- yeah. Even all things being equal, say they do a great job; there will still be pretty significant discrimination.
 

StudyLater

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Once you see behind the curtain of peer review you can see how much nepotism and unfairness is involved.

I've heard stories of articles being published in journals simply because the author was an underling/mentee of the editor, despite multiple peer reviews writing "methodologically flawed, reject" as their summary decision.
As with nearly everything else, in life. Gotta keep those networks strong.
 
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Halcyon32

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Once you see behind the curtain of peer review you can see how much nepotism and unfairness is involved.

I've heard stories of articles being published in journals simply because the author was an underling/mentee of the editor, despite multiple peer reviews writing "methodologically flawed, reject" as their summary decision.
Well, what if I were to submit to a not so renowned/big name journal and get published? Are they as discriminatory in that regard or would it be easier. It would be a big journal but at least I would have a first author pub and could put it on my application
 
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Halcyon32

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It's a fallacy to think that lower impact journals do not have the same process (and/or issues if you want to call it that).

Honestly I think there is a >99% chance you are going to waste a lot of time in a fruitless pursuit.
Well say I didn't get published, couldn't I at least indicate on my app or in some way that i spent all that time researching and the adcom would see and appreciate my dedication and effort? At least that's what somebody else told me
 
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Halcyon32

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Why not spend the time and effort in a conventional research project with an actual mentor?

Same amount of time and effort, much higher odds of fruitful work and other side benefits like a possible LOR.
That's totally my preferred route but i mentioned that I'm not at school right now, i'm overseas and will be starting back at uni in the spring semester and I figured while I have time to kill I might as well do something independently, despite how small of a chance I have at getting published I've got nothing to lose by at least trying while I'm here don't you think?
 

Goro

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In addition, review articles are often requested from journal editors.

That's called a review article.

It's very very difficult to write a pub worthy article by yourself as an UG student, but yes in terms of the process what you said above is accurate. You can send it to a journal w/ you as the only author.

Getting accepted for publication at a reputed journal is no easy task, even established PIs often try several times.
 
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Halcyon32

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All you have to lose is your time, but I feel certain you could find some better use for it.
Ok well with that being said would you mind telling me how exactly the process of a "conventional research project" goes. Do I just ask one of my professors if he is conducting research and if i can join? Also, is it possible to be a part of more than one research team at a time or does just one project take up a lot of time? Thanks a lot for all of your input btw its very helpful
 

Goro

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No Adcom member would take you seriously for putting something like this in your app, and in fact, I'd penalize you for your naivete for thinking this.

Well say I didn't get published, couldn't I at least indicate on my app or in some way that i spent all that time researching and the adcom would see and appreciate my dedication and effort? At least that's what somebody else told me
 
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Halcyon32

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No Adcom member would take you seriously for putting something like this in your app, and in fact, I'd penalize you for your naivete for thinking this.
Oh I was under the impression that listing your endeavors such as that one was a good thing but that's good to know. Thank you for telling me that
 

danib2k15

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Can you at least explain to us why you want to do this? Are you simply trying to find an "easy" way to publish without having to participate in a research project? Sorry if that sounds harsh but given how you keep mention adcoms and putting it on your application, that is what it seems like. And ultimately, publishing a review article is NOT the same as participating in research. If you are so interested in this topic, why not endeavor to contribute new information to the field? Also, as everyone is saying, science and research is not an unbiased field. It sucks, but its the way things go.
 
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Halcyon32

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Can you at least explain to us why you want to do this? Are you simply trying to find an "easy" way to publish without having to participate in a research project? Sorry if that sounds harsh but given how you keep mention adcoms and putting it on your application, that is what it seems like. And ultimately, publishing a review article is NOT the same as participating in research. If you are so interested in this topic, why not endeavor to contribute new information to the field? Also, as everyone is saying, science and research is not an unbiased field. It sucks, but its the way things go.
I've mentioned twice before that the reason I thought of doing this is because I'm not at school right now and am going to start uni again during the spring semester. So, I figured that while I have some extra time on my hands I might as well do something productive. All I do all day is study for the MCAT and after a while my brain just gets too fried and I want to do something else but something that will be conducive to my future. Since I don't have the opportunity right now to do actual research in an actual lab with an actual group I figured this is better than nothing. It's definitely not the easy way to get published in my opinion because I'm going to be doing this entirely on my own with no one to help me, at least for the majority of the time. And yes, of course this is something I want to put on my application, I'm pretty sure getting published as an undergrad wouldn't hurt me and since I have nothing to lose I figured why not.
 

danib2k15

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I've mentioned twice before that the reason I thought of doing this is because I'm not at school right now and am going to start uni again during the spring semester. So, I figured that while I have some extra time on my hands I might as well do something productive. All I do all day is study for the MCAT and after a while my brain just gets too fried and I want to do something else but something that will be conducive to my future. Since I don't have the opportunity right now to do actual research in an actual lab with an actual group I figured this is better than nothing. It's definitely not the easy way to get published in my opinion because I'm going to be doing this entirely on my own with no one to help me, at least for the majority of the time. And yes, of course this is something I want to put on my application, I'm pretty sure getting published as an undergrad wouldn't hurt me and since I have nothing to lose I figured why not.
Why don't you pursue volunteering or something that will get you out of the house and away from more reading/studying? It might help you remain sane (hard to do when studying for the MCAT). Try setting up shadowing or finding an organization you support. Or honestly, do any activity you love and stop worrying about what adcoms might think. They see the same activities over and over again. Some are necessary to have and others pre-meds simply think are necessary. Go follow your passions, you'll be much happier. Additionally, when you get II's you'll be able to speak honestly and sincerely about those experiences.
 
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Halcyon32

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Yet another SDN thread where it becomes painfully clear people aren't seeking advice but rather affirmation
I figured it was painfully clear that I wasn't asking for advice in my very first post where I explicitly asked about the process of getting published independently through the method that I chose. I'm not seeking advice nor affirmation but information. Of course I anticipated and wanted people to give me advice, and I appreciate all who did. You as well, since you opened up my eyes to how unrealistic and unnecessary the process would be. But thanks for being cynical about it as well.
 
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Halcyon32

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Why don't you pursue volunteering or something that will get you out of the house and away from more reading/studying? It might help you remain sane (hard to do when studying for the MCAT). Try setting up shadowing or finding an organization you support. Or honestly, do any activity you love and stop worrying about what adcoms might think. They see the same activities over and over again. Some are necessary to have and others pre-meds simply think are necessary. Go follow your passions, you'll be much happier. Additionally, when you get II's you'll be able to speak honestly and sincerely about those experiences.
The reason I had decided to write a review article is because I had gone through all possibilities of what I could do while I'm here (like you said volunteer, join an organization, tutor people, etc.) but my main road block is that I don't know the language here so all those are out of the question. It's a kind of weird situation that I'm in right now. I figured the only thing I could do that would be beneficial for me was to at least get a start on some sort of research since I am at a loss for what else I can do. And before you ask, yes I am trying to learn the language here for sure but I am nowhere near fluent enough to actually go out and do something like that. Research was the only thing I could think of that would be a help in any way.
 

mimelim

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Well say I didn't get published, couldn't I at least indicate on my app or in some way that i spent all that time researching and the adcom would see and appreciate my dedication and effort? At least that's what somebody else told me
I've mentioned twice before that the reason I thought of doing this is because I'm not at school right now and am going to start uni again during the spring semester. So, I figured that while I have some extra time on my hands I might as well do something productive. All I do all day is study for the MCAT and after a while my brain just gets too fried and I want to do something else but something that will be conducive to my future. Since I don't have the opportunity right now to do actual research in an actual lab with an actual group I figured this is better than nothing. It's definitely not the easy way to get published in my opinion because I'm going to be doing this entirely on my own with no one to help me, at least for the majority of the time. And yes, of course this is something I want to put on my application, I'm pretty sure getting published as an undergrad wouldn't hurt me and since I have nothing to lose I figured why not.
The reason I had decided to write a review article is because I had gone through all possibilities of what I could do while I'm here (like you said volunteer, join an organization, tutor people, etc.) but my main road block is that I don't know the language here so all those are out of the question. It's a kind of weird situation that I'm in right now. I figured the only thing I could do that would be beneficial for me was to at least get a start on some sort of research since I am at a loss for what else I can do. And before you ask, yes I am trying to learn the language here for sure but I am nowhere near fluent enough to actually go out and do something like that. Research was the only thing I could think of that would be a help in any way.
Okay, I'll state this bluntly, even though @Goro posted rather bluntly as well.

I would see this endeavor in a relatively negative light and you would harm your potential application cycle by pursuing it. I agree with @SouthernSurgeon on everything except for the you are only wasting your time. If you are not actively enrolled in school, we want to know what you are doing with your time. If you say, "I was writing a review article." I would ask, "Tell me about it." The moment you start talking like you are here, you would be thrown in the negative pile. You'd have to have a bunch of other things going for you, otherwise, it would be straight to reject.

The reason why we like to see people engaged in serious research is because people learn and develop skills by being involved. This isn't about improving scientific knowledge about XYZ. This is about learning scientific method, research methodology, the realities of funding or publishing, etc. If you get some or any of that, it is worthwhile. You get that by having mentorship. You get that by getting work done. A self-directed review article, never mind not getting published, is a waste of time and does not lead to personal development that we expect from people not actively enrolled in school. Personally, I'd take working at Walmart to support self and family over this.
 

danib2k15

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The reason I had decided to write a review article is because I had gone through all possibilities of what I could do while I'm here (like you said volunteer, join an organization, tutor people, etc.) but my main road block is that I don't know the language here so all those are out of the question. It's a kind of weird situation that I'm in right now. I figured the only thing I could do that would be beneficial for me was to at least get a start on some sort of research since I am at a loss for what else I can do. And before you ask, yes I am trying to learn the language here for sure but I am nowhere near fluent enough to actually go out and do something like that. Research was the only thing I could think of that would be a help in any way.
Well that sounds frustrating but I am sure that you could involve yourself in something, even if its not volunteering or tutoring etc. Why don't you explore the area you are in and take advantage of your time in a foreign place? I am sure that along the way, opportunities will pop up because you will meet new people. Gaining cultural perspective is a huge positive for med school applicants.
 
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Halcyon32

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Okay, I'll state this bluntly, even though @Goro posted rather bluntly as well.

I would see this endeavor in a relatively negative light and you would harm your potential application cycle by pursuing it. I agree with @SouthernSurgeon on everything except for the you are only wasting your time. If you are not actively enrolled in school, we want to know what you are doing with your time. If you say, "I was writing a review article." I would ask, "Tell me about it." The moment you start talking like you are here, you would be thrown in the negative pile. You'd have to have a bunch of other things going for you, otherwise, it would be straight to reject.

The reason why we like to see people engaged in serious research is because people learn and develop skills by being involved. This isn't about improving scientific knowledge about XYZ. This is about learning scientific method, research methodology, the realities of funding or publishing, etc. If you get some or any of that, it is worthwhile. You get that by having mentorship. You get that by getting work done. A self-directed review article, never mind not getting published, is a waste of time and does not lead to personal development that we expect from people not actively enrolled in school. Personally, I'd take working at Walmart to support self and family over this.
I'm not actively enrolled at school because I need to get an F1 (international student) visa to be able to actually go to school. So I don't know what else I could be doing with my time. I'm not willingly taking a semester off of school, this is something that I need to do to continue my education. That being said I don't understand why independently starting my own research paper would be seen in a bad light when my hands are tied in the matter of not going to school. It shows that I did something at least mildly productive with my time. It shows that I had an interest in a topic related to the health sciences that I wanted to learn about and pursue further and it shows that I wanted to gain some insight on how the scientific method, research methodology, and the realities of publishing worked. I just can't see an adcom thinking to him/herself "wow this guy actually tried to do research on his own? how naive, rejected. nice knowing you". I can't work/volunteer/do anything of the sort while I'm here so i wanted to show my dedication and interest somehow. I am gaining all sorts of insight and cultural knowledge of course but that comes with just living and observing my surroundings. There's more I can do.
Well that sounds frustrating but I am sure that you could involve yourself in something, even if its not volunteering or tutoring etc. Why don't you explore the area you are in and take advantage of your time in a foreign place? I am sure that along the way, opportunities will pop up because you will meet new people. Gaining cultural perspective is a huge positive for med school applicants.
I am definitely gaining cultural perspective and insights, it's just that, like I said, that stuff I get by just being here, it's not like I spend all day inside. I just have excess time that i figured I should dedicate to something productive. And the only type of language immersion I can do is going out and speaking with people etc. which I do every day. Volunteering and other such endeavors are simply not an option. You may think I'm being dramatic or exaggerating but there is just no opportunity for me to do anything like that while here.
 

Shirafune

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Let me try to put some things in perspective. Senior graduate students writing reviews is already pushing it. I rarely rarely see this. Usually, as stated numerous times in this thread, well-established scientists (PIs) are invited to write a review. In some cases, the PI does not do the bulk of the writing. You may have a post-doc write the paper and have the PI vouch for it as the senior author. Regardless, undergrads are rightfully not writing review articles because, frankly, they 99.99999% of the time lack the skills to cohesively and thoughtfully review the literature within the field. It takes a LONG time to cultivate these skills!

As far as advice for you goes, like mimelim said, find a PI to conduct research under to learn about the scientific method or any other form of academic growth. I'm all for undergraduate research; it's been a great part of my undergrad experience, but it also sucks to see misinformed, lazy, box-checking peers everywhere. If you are not interested in research, don't do it! You are wasting both your and the PI's time. You are better off doing some non-clinical volunteering that centers around your interests. Heck, you could even just devote that time to learning an instrument, a new language, or some other hobby you have never had the time to start. College is probably the last time you'll experience the true sandbox of life. Seriously, you could just enjoy life with that time.
 
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i published a review article in a national, peer reviewed undergraduate journal. it can be done, but it certainly wasn't a top tier journal that (as others mentioned) invite you to write an article.

on second thought, SDN may write me off because it was a journal that focused on publishing undergrad theses/capstone papers so idk how much you care about prestige but i wouldn't let that stop you. writing a review article is an incredible and challenging learning experience
 
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Halcyon32

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Let me try to put some things in perspective. Senior graduate students writing reviews is already pushing it. I rarely rarely see this. Usually, as stated numerous times in this thread, well-established scientists (PIs) are invited to write a review. In some cases, the PI does not do the bulk of the writing. You may have a post-doc write the paper and have the PI vouch for it as the senior author. Regardless, undergrads are rightfully not writing review articles because, frankly, they 99.99999% of the time lack the skills to cohesively and thoughtfully review the literature within the field. It takes a LONG time to cultivate these skills!

As far as advice for you, like mimelim said, find a PI to conduct research under to learn about the scientific method or any other form of academic growth. I'm all for undergraduate research; it's been a great part of my undergrad experience, but it also sucks to see misinformed, lazy, box-checking peers everywhere. If you are not interested in research, don't do it! You are wasting both your and the PI's time. You are better off doing some non-clinical volunteering that centers around your interests. Heck, you could even just devote that time to learning an instrument, a new language, or some other hobby you have never had the time to start. College is probably the last time you'll experience the true sandbox of life. Seriously, you could just enjoy life with that time.
I am enjoying life. The topic is something I enjoy and have strong feelings about. Thank you for the advice and info it helps a lot.
i published a review article in a national, peer reviewed undergraduate journal. it can be done, but it certainly wasn't a top tier journal that (as others mentioned) invite you to write an article.
Did you do it independently or with a PI?
 

Shirafune

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I'm not actively enrolled at school because I need to get an F1 (international student) visa to be able to actually go to school. So I don't know what else I could be doing with my time. I'm not willingly taking a semester off of school, this is something that I need to do to continue my education. That being said I don't understand why independently starting my own research paper would be seen in a bad light when my hands are tied in the matter of not going to school. It shows that I did something at least mildly productive with my time. It shows that I had an interest in a topic related to the health sciences that I wanted to learn about and pursue further and it shows that I wanted to gain some insight on how the scientific method, research methodology, and the realities of publishing worked. I just can't see an adcom thinking to him/herself "wow this guy actually tried to do research on his own? how naive, rejected. nice knowing you". I can't work/volunteer/do anything of the sort while I'm here so i wanted to show my dedication and interest somehow. I am gaining all sorts of insight and cultural knowledge of course but that comes with just living and observing my surroundings. There's more I can do.

I am definitely gaining cultural perspective and insights, it's just that, like I said, that stuff I get by just being here, it's not like I spend all day inside. I just have excess time that i figured I should dedicate to something productive. And the only type of language immersion I can do is going out and speaking with people etc. which I do every day. Volunteering and other such endeavors are simply not an option. You may think I'm being dramatic or exaggerating but there is just no opportunity for me to do anything like that while here.
What's wrong with the first half boils down to this: you are naively reaching beyond your capacities as an academic which, at this point, are pretty much nonexistent. A more dramatic, but reasonable, comparison is providing healthcare beyond your expertise. You can't start an IV for somebody just because you've seen it been done a million times and theoretically know how to do it. You simply don't have the credentials yet!

From personal experience, I asked a professor if he would be willing to mentor me through a mock review article so I could gain experience and mentorship in scientific writing which I think is not emphasized enough in undergraduate curriculum. I was able to impress him and gained some valuable insight about my career goals along the way. I was also very successful in his class. So instead of having to think about him as a potential LOR writer, he enthusiastically offers to write one. Perhaps you could do something similar, if you are seriously set on writing a review article.
 
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mimelim

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I'm not actively enrolled at school because I need to get an F1 (international student) visa to be able to actually go to school. So I don't know what else I could be doing with my time. I'm not willingly taking a semester off of school, this is something that I need to do to continue my education. That being said I don't understand why independently starting my own research paper would be seen in a bad light when my hands are tied in the matter of not going to school. It shows that I did something at least mildly productive with my time. It shows that I had an interest in a topic related to the health sciences that I wanted to learn about and pursue further and it shows that I wanted to gain some insight on how the scientific method, research methodology, and the realities of publishing worked. I just can't see an adcom thinking to him/herself "wow this guy actually tried to do research on his own? how naive, rejected. nice knowing you". I can't work/volunteer/do anything of the sort while I'm here so i wanted to show my dedication and interest somehow. I am gaining all sorts of insight and cultural knowledge of course but that comes with just living and observing my surroundings. There's more I can do.

I am definitely gaining cultural perspective and insights, it's just that, like I said, that stuff I get by just being here, it's not like I spend all day inside. I just have excess time that i figured I should dedicate to something productive. And the only type of language immersion I can do is going out and speaking with people etc. which I do every day. Volunteering and other such endeavors are simply not an option. You may think I'm being dramatic or exaggerating but there is just no opportunity for me to do anything like that while here.
Why you are taking time off from school has nothing to do with anything in my post. Well, I sat an an admissions committee and I absolutely would have said that. It isn't 'admirable' to try to do research on your own. It doesn't show something positive about you. Take it from someone doing research full time for two years now and having sat on an admissions committee, this is a waste of your time. As previously stated Walmart experience > self directed research. But, as SS points out, you have no interest in listening to anyone else, even those that know this process and research a heck of a lot better than you. From where I sit, inability to take constructive criticism or advice is a far bigger red-flag than any of this.
 
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I am enjoying life. The topic is something I enjoy and have strong feelings about. Thank you for the advice and info it helps a lot.

Did you do it independently or with a PI?
independently. my background is not in the natural sciences and neither was the focus of the article.
my senior honors thesis was related to medicine, was a mix of narrative/review, and was overseen by a PI. still has a long ways to go before looking somewhat publishable.

i don't know what your background/interests are, but i think independent research is worthwhile if you have a plan and are really dedicated. i designed a project, scientific method, applied for grants, did the fieldwork etc that everyone here is talking about. that project was entirely different than the two papers i mentioned. all three were different types of research with very different methods and each taught me something different.