shaky_k

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I was wondering, what looks better, starting research as a freshman and continuing it for four years without much change or quitting your second or third year, or......... starting research in your second or third year and learning about your area of concentration extensively/being published/etc.?
 

Johnny_one_eye

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shaky_k said:
I was wondering, what looks better, starting research as a freshman and continuing it for four years without much change or quitting your second or third year, or......... starting research in your second or third year and learning about your area of concentration extensively/being published/etc.?
It depends on what you get out of the research, not when you start it. Doing research because it 'looks good' isn't really a good reason to do it. Be interested in it or find something else to do that would 'look good' and that you are interested in.

As for when to start, it depends on when you feel comfortable. Do you feel comfortable as a freshman starting research? I know I didn't, but maybe you do. I don't think I knew enough science to contribute anything substantial, but you'll learn a lot.

Switching is ok, especially if you start in your freshman year. I don't think I know many undergrads who worked in the same lab for 4 years. You can try different labs or internships at companies or even doing a stint with the NIH if you're really interested in research. A lot of people get a taste of reseach early but then want to try a new/different area after a while. Most undergrad projects have a smaller scope than graduate theses so it's tough to continue for 4 years doing small projects (I would think). Since your projects are only going to be loosely related (most likely) it's definitely not a bad idea to look for more prestigious positions after a year or two of hard work.

I started my research during the summer after my sophomore year. I worked part of that summer, did a small undergrad project during my junior year and worked the summer after my junior year and my senior year on a baccalaureate thesis.

But just to go back to my original point, if you're just doing research to 'look good', it will probably show. This is especially so when you start looking for a lab to work in. I've heard plenty of stories of PI's giving students silly research projects because they could tell they were only there to help their med school apps. Just food for thought...
 

63768

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do research to see if you like it. if you don't like it, don't continue on, and find something else you enjoy, may it be volunteerism, medical missions, shadowing, EMT, etc. research is not important for getting into med school so don't be fixated upon it.
 

relentless11

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As Johnny_one_eye inferred, how good research is depends on what YOU get out of it, rather than when you start, and what you do. More importantly, if you like it, then you will get A LOT out of it.

I know people who started research before going into college, while others doing research after undergrad. I took the middle ground and started research at the beginning of my junior year.
 

Compass

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I started mine this year, right after freshman year, because it interested me. I was hoping for clinical research, but I got a bioinformatics job. However, that being my major helped me accept the fact. I've done a lot of work on it, and while I'm not being a pipeteer, I know exactly what I'm doing, and I can safely say that I'm doing what no one else has ever done before. Ever.
 

ESzczesniak

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Ah heck, if you're a true gunner, you would have started it when you were 9!

In reality, I don't have a good answer for this. Myself, I actually started research as a sophomore in high school over the summer and such. Certainly could have worked in to a long research project, but I started a new lab with the start of undergrad, discovered beer and hated my work in the new lab. I quite after my sophomore year, never to do research again (although I'll probably go back to my old lab some now that I am going to med school at the same place as my old lab).

I suppose a story like this would sound like a nightmare, showing no continuity. However, it actually turned out well in a lot of ways, as my departure from research was largely coupled with ventures in to patient care positions and I could explain, with evidence, that patient care is where my heart lies and that is why I quit.

Basically, as other people have said--do research if you enjoy it. Otherwise, find other exposures to medicine.
 

dr.z

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yourmom25 said:
do research to see if you like it. if you don't like it, don't continue on, and find something else you enjoy, may it be volunteerism, medical missions, shadowing, EMT, etc. research is not important for getting into med school so don't be fixated upon it.
:thumbup:
 

maestro1625

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START AS A FRESHMAN!

especially if you're at a small school like I am... profs will want to start people early to give then a good number of years to learn and eventually develop thier own projects.
 

CTtarheel

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If you're a science major a good way to start is with a research course. At my school you're required to have a certian number of upper level classes before starting it, and most professors want you to have taken a few select classes before letting you start (as a chem major, generally they wanted organic and organic lab, sometimes synthetic lab). The good thing about doing it for credit is that they generally won't make you a dish washer, as you have to generate some kind of paperwork at the end of the semester. Either way, if you know you want to do research i'd start emailing profs in my sophomore year after i'd taken some major classes asking them if you could join their labs. A typical time comitment is 10-12 hours a week, leaving you plenty of time to do other stuff (I still had time to volunteer and work as an EMT).
 

thewarehouse

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I'd say learning about your area of concentration is definitely a big benefit of being in a lab. I started during my sophomore year after taking a couple chem/bio classes and one of best things about it for me has been the exposure to some of the tougher concepts that I saw later in class. There's a lot to learn- you'd be surpised how even the technical stuff that seems to go over your head comes back later in class or on an MCAT passage and you're already semi-comfortable with it.