year-long research as part of my medical degree - advice needed

Discussion in 'Student Research and Publishing' started by JCYL, Mar 22, 2007.

  1. JCYL

    7+ Year Member

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    Hi all, I'll be starting my year-long research next year as part of my med degree. I'm totally new to the research arena and would value any suggestion from you guys with respect to finding a research supervisor. In addition to finding a project that I'm interested in, one of my priorities is to get as many publications as possible, since I will be dedicating a whole year to do it. What are some of the "clues" that I can watch out for in assessing the productivity of a lab?

    Thank you very much!
     
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  3. Adcadet

    Adcadet Long way from Gate 27
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    Things I have and would look for:
    - somebody who can teach you about stuff not exactly related to research, like general academic medicine and academic development. This is why I tend to gravitate towards MDs
    - somebody who has a professional approach to screw-ups. When you mess up an experiment, does the PI yell and scream and make you feel like an idiot, or does he/she realize that you already feel like an idiot and helps you engineer a new system to prevent such mistakes from happening again?
    - old and established vs. young and hungry - not sure which is better. I've had good experiences with both.
    - if you can figure out who is well-respected by other people, this can be a big plus as later people will likely think of you in a better light
    - somebody who's work patterns resemble your own - I've frequently done research during odd hours, and its nice when your PI understands and will respond to emails at 3 am and not just assume that you work weird hours because you are lazy.
    - somebody who has time for you. I think this is the biggy. Without time to talk with you, they become just a name for you to associate with and a source of funding.
     
  4. Circumflex

    Circumflex Junior Member
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    First, pick a field of research that genuinely interests you - otherwise, it will suck. After you've narrowed to a field, do a PubMed search on the faculty doing the kind of research that you are interested in. See who is productive and where they publish. There are some labs that use a couple of unique techniques that allow them to publish more frequently.

    I understand that you want to publish as many papers as you can, but you will be lucky to get 1 first-author paper (usually). If you want to get your name on papers, pick a large lab so that you can learn a couple of techniques and contribute to papers that others in the lab are publishing.
     
  5. Adcadet

    Adcadet Long way from Gate 27
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    I generally agree w/ Circumflex, but I've been led astray but assuming that somebody with a great publication record would be able to pump out a lot more papers during my time with him. He had just hit a dry spell in his grants and all the recent publications were from the tail end of old grants that weren't renewed. In contrast, I got to work with another guy who's publication record in the field was smallish but he had two new large grants (R01's) and was a collaborator with at least two other solid researchers letting his lab work on multiple types of experiments concurrently, and in the four years after getting those he was extremely productive to say the least.
     
  6. greg12345

    greg12345 New Member
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    Wait, what kind of research will you be doing - basic science (lab stuff) or clinical (studies, trials, etc.)?
     
  7. JCYL

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    I'm leaning towards clinical research for two main reasons: 1) I guess clinical research usually produces faster results? 2) I'm more interested in becoming a clinician only but would also like to use this year to test the water and see if a research career would be suitable for me.
     
  8. CRAZYTERP

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    Hey JCYL,

    I am currently doing a Doris Duke at Iowa and I would say prior to beginning I was much like you in that I too leaned towards clinical research. It is true that you might be able to pump out a few clinical papers quickly but they will most likely be case reports that could be done as a medical student without taking time off. Strong clinical papers require lots of statistical analysis that usually means doing chart reviews of several years of patient samples that just doesn't seem as worthwhile if you are doing a full year of research. Plus in many peoples eyes a basic paper is worth much more than 2-3 short clinical papers. And, as a clinician, if you decided to stay academic, clinical research will be inherent to your practice.

    Having never had any basic science experience I used this year to immerse myself into the laboratory (basic science genetics) and was able to master relatively simple techniques very quickly (i.e. PCR, Direct sequencing, DHPLC). I recommend going this route and picking a lab that is big enough where you can learn from postdocs as well as your PI because needless to say you will probably be last on your PI's list of priorities and having others to answer questions that your PI need not worry about is very helpful.

    If you are going to take a year off my advice is to do something that you probably cannot do during your career as a fulltime medical student and make yourself more marketable in terms of securing a residency position.

    Lastly, and I will get off my soapbox now, working in basic science has really taught me to approach problems differently than I think I did in my clinical years. This is probably the most important thing I will take away from the year and I think is something you should really strive for.

    Best of luck,
    Amit
     
  9. greg12345

    greg12345 New Member
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    Please realize that even a year in basic science is often not enough time to produce enough data to be a 1st author on a paper. If you are testing the water for a possible research career, it might be worth it to do basic science as this year will probably definitely answer the question of whether basic science research is for you or not. If not, clinical research is fairly easy to pick up in the future (e.g. fellowship) if that is what you end up wanting to do.
     

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