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When choosing research...

Discussion in 'Pre-Medical - MD' started by TroubledStudent, Dec 15, 2008.

  1. TroubledStudent

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    Hey everyone, I am a freshman in college, and next semester I am going to pick a research opportunity. I was wondering, in terms of boosting my chances of getting into med. school, which would be better to take:

    -A volunteer research opportunity in which I am working in a lab; i will eventually work on my own projects; 1-2 papers might be published

    -A volunteer research opportunity in which all work in done at home; this one publishes a TON of papers, probably around 15 with my name on them by the time i graduate

    Basically, to med. schools, is lab experience more important (i already have some), or is publishing papers a bigger deal

    Also, what other recommendations do you guys have in terms of what extracurricular activities i should pursue over the next 4 years?

    Thanks
     
  2. 236116

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    Which do you like better? Which one are you going to get happy face talking about?
     
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  3. TroubledStudent

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    I honestly like them both. Working in a lab is always a great experience, but the research with the published papers is about nanotechnology, which i find really interesting. so thats why I'm asking the question about which one is more respectable
     
  4. 236116

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    It doesn't really matter beyond what you want to do, tbqh. Is either more applicable to your major?

    What are your clinicals, volunteering?
     
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  5. TroubledStudent

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    My major is biology, and the research opportunity with lab work is biology/neuroscience-oriented. Is it advantageous to go for one that is more related to my major? I also volunteered in a lab for 160 hours during my junior year of hs. Any advice?
     
  6. 236116

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    HS doesn't count any more. Are you more interested in the neuro or nano?

    What are you doing for vols and clinical? Red Cross? BB/BS? ED blanket-gopher?
     
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  7. fizzle

    fizzle New Member
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    It's considered a pretty big accomplishment for a graduate student to publish 15 papers while doing full-time research during his graduate school years, let alone for an undergraduate, who is also taking a full courseload, in less than 4 years. This is one point at which I'd say you're being unrealistically optimistic.

    At this point, you should just focus on getting involved in any research and learn the basics before you make a longer commitment. It really doesn't matter to med schools what kind of research you do, as long as it's interesting and holds water in the academic world.
     
    #7 fizzle, Dec 15, 2008
    Last edited: Dec 15, 2008
  8. 135892

    135892 Guest
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    I love how freshman come in thinking "oh, I'll just publish about 15 papers, no biggie..."

    Honestly, just get some good research experience and see where it takes you. Also realize that, most undergraduates do not publish (1st or 2nd author), even though they may actually do a lot of meaningful work. You just can't predict how many, or even if, you'll be able to get a good publication. Best of luck though.
     
  9. TroubledStudent

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    Hey, I'm a freshman but I'm speaking the truth here. This research group is notorious on campus for publishing tons of papers. My friend joined it first semester, and he's already published a paper, with his name written next to the professor's and the grad. students.

    jurassicpark, i actually don't know. what exactly are clinicals?
     
  10. shaggybill

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    Clinical work = working with patients in any form, but for premeds, it mostly shadowing. You have to prove to the adcom that you actually have some idea about what it is you are getting yourself into.
     
  11. TroubledStudent

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    ok, how soon would you recommend starting clinical work? Is this a 4-year thing or is it only for a short period of time?

    thanks again
     
  12. 236116

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    ~150 hours. However you want.
     
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  13. 229141

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    I got into research the beginning of my 2nd year. I do any of the current projects, rather I had my own idea. After mustering up some courage, I approached one of the medical school teachers at my campus and talked with him about starting a brand new project. He was really into the idea and now I've been doing my own research project for over a year..so by all means do not be shy about asking profs about research..a lot of them love to help.

    PS- In my app should I mention that I pioneered my own research project, rather than latching on to an existing project? Or is that not important
     
  14. 236116

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    Definitely mention it.
     
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  15. LizzyM

    LizzyM the evil queen of numbers
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    If you can do it at home and crank out a paper every 8-12 weeks, I doubt it is really research.


    An adcom likes to think that medical students understand the scientific method by which hypotheses are proposed. (funded) tested and reported. It helps if you have gotten your hand dirty at the bench, even better if you have had the opportunity to test a hypothesis that you have formulated, been funded to conduct research, published & made a presentation at a professional meeting.
     
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  16. TroubledStudent

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    so you think i should go for the lab research opportunity?
     
  17. LizzyM

    LizzyM the evil queen of numbers
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    Go for the lab.
     
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  18. theslave

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    Why can't you do both?
     
  19. TroubledStudent

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    i mean technically i could but i would have no time for anything
     
  20. savant

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    I have had two lab experiences -- One that I hated and one that I like. Here are some of my observations.

    -How is the PI and other lab members? Who will you learn more from? Who can you develop a better relationship with? My first PI was not very talkative, kind of intimidating, and unapproachable. My second PI is much better. I can talk to him about topics in our research field without feeling stupid, and I think I have learned a lot from him.
    -You will need to acquire domain knowledge. You can do this by taking classes, reading papers, and talking with your PI, lab members, going to seminars and talks etc.
    -I assume that the research methodology is different b/w the two groups. Which one do you like better. I disliked wet lab work, but I really like bioinformatics, which is what I am doing atm.
    -How do you know how many publications you will get? Is this something your professors led you to expect? Yyou may have a better experience working on a project in depth rather than by doing a lot.
    -How do you get along with other lab members? They can be a valuable resource, your intellectual colleagues, and they will be your companions when you work in the lab.
    -What skills do the different groups need? Which skills do you want to have?
    -Is it a big group or small group? In a big group, you will have less interaction with the PI.
     
  21. Greonis

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    Very true. In fact, most graduate students that I know in my area of undergraduate research (chemistry) are lucky to say that they've even reached the double digits (10). While a publication of any kind is certainly an accomplishment to be valued, I think it is often forgotten that every paper is unique in a number of ways. Differing characteristics to consider include the type of research being done, the written length of the paper, and the journal(s) to which the paper has been submitted (some journals are highly selective, others seem to publish just about anything that isn't grossly flawed in some way). Here on SDN, where it seems that many undergraduates have publications (often multiple) to speak of, I cannot help but wonder what each person's definition of a "publication" is and whether or not it is worth its salt in hype.

    Therefore, to the OP, do not be so quick to assume that the quantity of papers published is directly correlated to the success/didactic value of the research group (and more importantly, the pending strength of your medical school application). You may find that, while you do have the opportunity to have your name appear more often, it may be for works that are terse, badly written, and above all unscholarly. Given that publications in which your name appears are linked to you for life, I am sure that you would not want to risk being associated with publications that are of a dubious nature (rare, but it does happen).

    Above all, engage in research that will enable you to grow the most as a person (AKA: it interests you the most). Do not base your decision on publication potential, as the only publications likely to have a truly positive effect on your application are both difficult to obtain and dependent on luck. What you get out of the experience is, ultimately, far more important anyway, so even if you come out with no publications to speak of, your ability to discuss the research and connect it to your interest in medicine will still come through for you in a big way.
     

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