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Review Articles versus Primary Articles in Admissions

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Marquis_Phoenix

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Are first-author review articles in high impact journals looked down upon compared to first-author primary articles in mid-level journals, or third/fourth-author primary articles in high impact journals as an undergraduate student?
 

NTF

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Are first-author review articles in high impact journals looked down upon compared to first-author primary articles in mid-level journals, or third/fourth-author primary articles in high impact journals as an undergraduate student?

Any publications at all are a plus for an undergraduate.
 

Rabbit36

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I'd say first author in a high impact journal, even if it's a review. But this is pretty hypothetical. Is this choice actually in front of you? You can't even be sure of where a paper would end up being published until they get back to you. Nontrad's right: just try to get any publication. They don't subtract points for being in a mid-level journal (it's certainly not "looked down on"), they only add points for being published period.
 

JLC

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Uh review articles are nothing like original research articles. That said review articles are usually written by experts in the field...usually people have several original articles before they are invited by either a journal to write a review. Regardless even if someone submits a review a journal will only select those with several original research.
 

Marquis_Phoenix

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So does that make them inferior to primary articles in that case?
 

richse

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So does that make them inferior to primary articles in that case?

If this is an invited review I would say it ranks even or higher with a first author primary article. I'm curious how you would end up with an invited review having no other papers though. I have quite a few papers and I still would not expect to be invited to write a review.
 

chewsnuffles

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I'd also look at this in terms of how much time is invested and what result is obtained (and the actual probability of obtaining a result).

Either type of publication is very time intensive, however, I would say that the experimental section of a piece of primary research is likely to end up taking a long time (and also be held slightly higher, depending on journal).

The good thing about the review article is that you can be the primary author (which is a good things) and, possibly the most important point, you have a good idea of how well the article will end up being received when submitted for publication. An experiment can always completely go south for no apparent reason and you can be left with a lack of data and anything meaningful to report. It is very hard to design a "perfect" experiment where you can get meaningful data any way it goes.
 

fizzle

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If you're applying for an MD/PhD, then probably the primary article will be better. It shows that you're capable of creative, independent thought and have initiative. A review article shows that you have sufficient knowledge of the field to teach others.

Both are impressive for any MD/PhD applicant, although the primary article might show the adcoms more of what they're looking for, a person's potential for research.

If you're applying for MD, then it really doesn't matter at all.
 

JLC

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I'm honestly wondering why you're asking this?

Review articles are not "inferior" to research articles, they're totally different!!!

As Richse mentioned, review articles are usually written by seasoned scientists who have a background in the field. There are honestly very few exceptions whether the review was an invited article or one submitted.
 

LizzyM

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Publications are often used as evidence that you have been engaged in research and have seen a successful project through to its logical conclusion: comunication of your results in writing to other investigators.

A review article only shows that you know how to read the literature and synthesize/summarize it. I would not find it as impressive as publication of original research.
 

Darkshooter326

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I think any publication, in any journal, regardless of review vs. primary is GREAT.

No point in deciding what is important, just put everything you can on your application and let the school decide what THEY think is important.
 

AtheGre

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Publications are often used as evidence that you have been engaged in research and have seen a successful project through to its logical conclusion: comunication of your results in writing to other investigators.

A review article only shows that you know how to read the literature and synthesize/summarize it. I would not find it as impressive as publication of original research.


These are my thoughts as well. I have been the primary author of both review articles and scientific research articles. When you write a review, you're merely discussing someone else's science. But when you publish a scientific article, the science and work come from you. The way I think of it, when you publish a scientific article, you're providing the scientific community with an interpretation of the natural world, as you have come to understand it--more or less. And when they accept that--by publishing your work--they are saying, 'hey, this guy may be on to something'. That's an ideological viewpoint. More generally, publishing a scientific article demonstrates your ability to examine issues in a critical and scientific fasion--something that is very relevant to the medical field in general. A review is merely a stat-sheet of other people's findings. Also, if you wrote a review as an undergrad (like me), then in all honesty, you're not that much of an expert in the field. You're just a good writer. That being said, the blood, sweat, and tears that go into publishing an original scientific article--even in a mid-tier journal--is much more difficult than writing a review.

All told, if you can get any sort of publication, I think it would be a plus!


AtG
 

AtheGre

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Oh and if it's of any relevance, my boss would get asked to write reviews and then he would assign them to me. That's how I was able to get a review publication.


AtG
 
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Marquis_Phoenix

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Perhaps I'm just hanging out in the wrong labs (big, pumping out lots of papers, where you never see the famous PI labs).

I've never gotten an independent project yet in my three years of undergraduate. It's been taking on supporting roles. I've had research ideas in mind, but never the opportunity to carry them out.

Any idea how to get around this?
 

txprodigal

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Perhaps I'm just hanging out in the wrong labs (big, pumping out lots of papers, where you never see the famous PI labs).

I've never gotten an independent project yet in my three years of undergraduate. It's been taking on supporting roles. I've had research ideas in mind, but never the opportunity to carry them out.

Any idea how to get around this?

I was in a similar position until I decided to request a small project from my superior, and now I got one. Even though it's a very easy, just tedious project, I believe I will get better projects in the future if I show my ability to do well on simple assignments...
 

AtheGre

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Having an ancillary role on projects is good; it should give you an experience of your lab dynamic, teach you important experimental techniques that your lab uses, and get you involved with the overall research goals of the lab. Hopefully by now you should be able to use those techniques to begin answering some scientific questions that are relevant to your lab's focus.

You should express to your PI that you would like to be in charge of your own project. A PI may have plenty of ideas floating around in their head, but not enough hands to get them off the ground. If you have your own ideas and would like to make a project out of it, make sure you have some proposal on hand that is already written (references and all). That way, they will take you seriously; it shows that you've put some serious thought into it. Meet with him/her in person and tell him/her that you've been working there for 3 years, and that you would like to be in charge of your own research project. They should be impressed that you've taken the initiative and are seeking out the responsibility. It worked for me. It's definitely worth a shot.


AtG
 

migm

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Only articles in which you single-handedly cure cancer and unlock the secret to everlasting life will improve the strength of your application.

Seriously, if you get published, that is a good thing. Granted there are some pretty crappy journals out there, but the fact that you can put together something like that looks great. Any sane admissions committee will not care what the subject matter is
 

fizzle

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Perhaps I'm just hanging out in the wrong labs (big, pumping out lots of papers, where you never see the famous PI labs).

I've never gotten an independent project yet in my three years of undergraduate. It's been taking on supporting roles. I've had research ideas in mind, but never the opportunity to carry them out.

Any idea how to get around this?

Make an appointment with your PI and tell him about your ideas. One thing I've found after years of undergraduate research is that professors really value initiative--you have to be the one going up to them and telling them you want to work on something that you are interested in. Chances are, they'll enthusiastically support your efforts.
 

enjoydrywax

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I have two second-author publications, one is a review in a medium impact journal and the other is an original finding published in a slightly higher impact journal. In just about all of my interviews I have been asked about my contributions to my review article and not much about the original research. One of my interviewers actually asked me to summarize my entire review article because he was curious about the field. I don't know if this has been the paradigm for others.
 

Marquis_Phoenix

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Also what is high-impact? Nature Reviews, Neuron, Science, NEJM, Lancet (IF: 5+?)
 

chewsnuffles

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Also what is high-impact? Nature Reviews, Neuron, Science, NEJM, Lancet (IF: 5+?)

Hahaha... ok, two ways to answer this:

An IF of 5+ is certainly one way to assign the "meaningfulness" of a publication, and especially if you are a PhD trying to build your resume, you probably want to get in here with a 1st author pub.

Anything that is in Nature/Science/Cell/NEJM/Lancet are considered top class, and these publications are a mixture of "big science" (big $$$$) and very clever ideas that work and change not only one specific field, but are applicable to other fields as well (hence why nature/science are multi-disciplinary)

HOWEVER, it really depends on your field. Cancer journal's IF's tend to be higher than other fields, just because there is so much movement in that field. However, having a significant discovery in the field of, say, endocrinology could go in either:
a) One of the major multi-disiplinary journals (Nature/Science), but it would have to be REALLY big (i.e. there is no shame in not ending up here!)
b) In the top endocrinology journal (assuming it isn't clinical in nature, in which NEJM/Lancet would be the target) - just for example, (the number is made up) the top endo journal might have an impact factor of 3 since there is less need to cite these articles since the field may move considerably slower, BUT you have still made a major contribution to your field, and you would be invited to talk at endo conferences, etc.

In conclusion, correct me if I am wrong, but the IF of journals in fields that are "hot topics" and/or can be supported by in vitro work tend to have higher IF because knowledge (and publications) are always coming out of these fields. However, in the fields where more in vivo work is required, it also requires more $$$/time, and publications appear less frequently. This gives those journals a lower IF.
 

AtheGre

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I would consider IF of 4-5+ to be pretty significant publications in their field. As you can see, Nature (29.491) and Science (24.595) are just ridiculous, but they're no Annual Review of Immunology (IF = 47.564)! Crazy.


AtG
 
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