How to read, understand and write great medical research

These excel­lent tips are kind­ly shared by RK Shar­ma and HL Ogle, two med­ical stu­dents at the Uni­ver­si­ty of Exeter, aim­ing to clear up many of the inac­cu­rate assump­tions of how dif­fi­cult pub­lish­ing is and pro­vide a clear guide for stu­dents to begin their own writ­ing journeys.

#1. Find your why: Evi­dence-based med­i­cine means that these are vital skills, and it has long been thought that the habits should be learned from ear­ly on.

#2. Play to your strengths and be real­is­tic: A lit­tle bit of thought and plan­ning at this stage will cre­ate a much friend­lier intro­duc­tion to research. Take a lit­tle time to reflect and think about the skills or inter­ests you have that may trans­late into research work. This could be an old fond­ness of maths and sta­tis­tics, strong ana­lyt­i­cal skills or even an innate pas­sion for any par­tic­u­lar field of medicine.

#3. Be well read: In order to pro­duce research, you have to read research. This should not be a chore! There are thou­sands of med­ical jour­nals to choose from. If you have already start­ed to con­sid­er what you per­son­al­ly may enjoy, have a look around!

#4. Revis­it missed oppor­tu­ni­ties: Across the world, there is an increas­ing empha­sis on the role of research in med­ical edu­ca­tion. One exam­ple of this is some Amer­i­can uni­ver­si­ties now have guid­ed mod­ules cov­er­ing all aspects of research from devel­op­ing the research plan through to ethics approval, com­ple­tion, and presentation.

#5. Talk to the doc­tors around you: Often con­sid­ered for pro­fes­sion­al devel­op­ment, but per­haps less so for edu­ca­tion­al devel­op­ment, seek­ing a men­tor to guide you through these ven­tures can some­times be of great long-term benefit.

#6. Broad­en your hori­zons: When approach­ing pub­lish­ing for the first time, it is easy to become sole­ly focused on research papers and ways in which to par­tic­i­pate with teams of researchers or large projects. In real­i­ty, this is only one aspect of med­ical lit­er­a­ture and by delv­ing into the word of research and becom­ing more well-read, the vari­ety of pub­li­ca­tions and types of writ­ing will quick­ly become apparent.

#7. Get to grips with the sub­mis­sion process ear­ly: Jour­nals often receive far high­er lev­els of sub­mis­sions than can be accept­ed, mak­ing informed choic­es is of huge ben­e­fit for all par­ties involved.

#8. Pay atten­tion to the details: This tip aims to draw atten­tion to all the minute queries that can arise and things to look out for when sub­mit­ting to your cho­sen journal.

#9. Remem­ber that sub­mis­sion is not the end: It is rel­a­tive­ly uncom­mon for any jour­nal sub­mis­sions to be accept­ed with­out any revi­sions. There are 4 deci­sions that can be giv­en, these are: accep­tance, minor revi­sions, major revi­sions and rejection.

#10. The process can­not be rushed: This can some­times be a sur­prise when new­ly ven­tur­ing into research; things take time. This is one of the rea­sons why it pays to have plans as to what to do if the work is reject­ed, as it can be dif­fi­cult to return to an arti­cle many weeks after the fact.

#11. Con­sid­er the alter­na­tive paths to pre­sent­ing research: A full paper is incred­i­bly time con­sum­ing and can have rel­a­tive­ly poor suc­cess rates; how­ev­er the vast pro­por­tion of research projects can be pre­sent­ed as sci­en­tif­ic posters or oral presentations.

#12. Start writ­ing: There are many arti­cle for­mats that are per­fect­ly suit­ed to stu­dent authors. The let­ters sec­tion of a jour­nal can be a great tar­get for students.

What­ev­er a person’s moti­va­tion for get­ting involved with research, with a bit of prepa­ra­tion and read­ing, any­one who is enthu­si­as­tic can do it.

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About SharpBrains

SHARPBRAINS is an independent think-tank and consulting firm providing services at the frontier of applied neuroscience, health, leadership and innovation.
SHARPBRAINS es un think-tank y consultoría independiente proporcionando servicios para la neurociencia aplicada, salud, liderazgo e innovación.

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