By Tim Durso
If you’re a medical student, you’ve probably that research is important to getting a competitive residency position. Sometimes it feels like if you don’t have ten first author publications by the end of first year, you’ll end up practicing rural medicine in Topeka, Kansas (not that there’s anything wrong with that). For those of you looking to get involved in research, I have put together a list of things that I’ve learned throughout my first three years of school that helped me get involved in productive research.
1. Find a research mentor who intends on publishing:
This sounds intuitive, but I can’t stress how many students I’ve talked to who got involved in projects that had no chance of publication. Don’t be afraid to ask directly what their intentions for publication are. If they aren’t sure or are vague about this topic, they may not be the best person to work with.
2. Research within your interests:
Yes, doing research looks good on your CV. And yes, this may help you later on when looking for residencies. However, doing research shouldn’t be a chore. You’re helping advance the field of medicine and improving patient care. If you do this in a way that holds your interest, you’ll be much more likely to carry through on the work necessary to get to the point of publication.
3. Learn basic statistics:
If you want to publish, you can save a significant amount of time if you understand and can apply statistics to your data. That way, you don’t have to rely on anybody else to complete the necessary steps toward publication. For those of you who have started the research process, I’m sure you’ve already endured the endless wait of e-mail communication, so any steps you can eliminate and perform on your own are crucial in streamlining the process.
4. Be an active participant in your research project:
It’s easy as a lowly med student to adapt to your role as a cog in the wheel of the research machine. My advice is don’t be the cog; be the engine. Have an active dialogue with your research mentor about the preliminary data and future directions for your research. Not only will this effort put you in a prime position to do the writing when the time for publication comes, but it may also spawn further ideas that can lead to future publication opportunities.
5. Seek out presentation opportunities:
So many different professional societies have meetings during which posters can be presented. Ideally, your research mentor will have recommendations as to which meetings to submit posters. If you don’t get this sense from your mentor, though, don’t be afraid to look on your own.
If you follow the guide above, you’ll be well on your way to doing great work in the field of research. For anyone looking for credentials for this guide, please visit this link.
Do you have anything you’d like to add to the list above? Let me know down in the comments!