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I'll be working on a research project this summer. It will be my first time analyzing data and writing a paper. Any tips on how to work on the project efficiently? Any guides on how to approach research?

 

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what kind of research? Basic science? Epi? Chart review? Give us an idea of what you're actually doing and what kind of a team you're working with so we can actually give you useful non-generic advice.

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26 minutes ago, adhominem said:

what kind of research? Basic science? Epi? Chart review? Give us an idea of what you're actually doing and what kind of a team you're working with so we can actually give you useful non-generic advice.

Clinical research and case reports, thanks!

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By clinical are you referring to conducting an RCT, or observational studies?

Either way, I'm sure you've already conducted a thorough lit review. The next best step would be to go back to these manuscripts and analyze the statistical methods they used to determine which comparisons would be meaningful for your study. Knowing what you want to do with your data makes working with it much more manageable. 

Whenever you feel lost in the abyss that is clinical data (lol) reflect back on the overarching goals of the project and you'll find your footing again!

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On 5/23/2018 at 12:22 AM, MD_2021 said:

I'll be working on a research project this summer. It will be my first time analyzing data and writing a paper. Any tips on how to work on the project efficiently? Any guides on how to approach research?

 

Strap yourself in, prepare for endless delays and frustration. Prepare to have your work scrutinized to no end. There is no such thing as efficiency. Its fun though. Enjoy, welcome to research.

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I do basic science. I start with writing the paper followed by experiments. Your intro is your literature search followed by stating your hypothesis. This way you know what has/hasn't been done. Then write materials and methods. That's your experimental plan. Now start results. Obviously you don't have any but think of what data you want. Graphs, schematics, images, etc. Now do your experiments. As you get data, paste into your result section. Once you have all of the figures you planned on, put them into words and discuss. Voila- you have yourself a paper. 

Also see How to write a scientific paper by George Whitesides. 

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On 6/22/2018 at 6:40 PM, Bede said:

I do basic science. I start with writing the paper followed by experiments. Your intro is your literature search followed by stating your hypothesis. This way you know what has/hasn't been done. Then write materials and methods. That's your experimental plan. Now start results. Obviously you don't have any but think of what data you want. Graphs, schematics, images, etc. Now do your experiments. As you get data, paste into your result section. Once you have all of the figures you planned on, put them into words and discuss. Voila- you have yourself a paper. 

Also see How to write a scientific paper by George Whitesides. 

This is how you bias your data to show what you want it to show... Clearly you want to do a literature review, have a hypothesis, and a rough experimental plan, but DO NOT "think of what data you want". You don't know what the data will show you until you start doing experiments. Those experiments probably wont tell you the full story, so then you plan to do more experiments based on that. Once you have data that you think tells a cohesive story, THEN you can start to write a paper around the data. Writing the paper first introduces MASSIVE bias as you don't know what you are going to see. 90% of the time, experiments don't work out or have insignificant results that don't merit further discussion (an unfortunate truth about our peer review system). If that's the case then your paper, that you spent all this time writing, is dead in the water and needs to be revised.

To quote the article by George Whitesides that the above poster suggested, "Realize that your objective in research is to formulate and test hypothesis, to draw conclusions from these tests, and to teach these conclusions to others. Your objective is not to 'collect data'." 

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1 hour ago, ExercMed said:

This is how you bias your data to show what you want it to show... Clearly you want to do a literature review, have a hypothesis, and a rough experimental plan, but DO NOT "think of what data you want". You don't know what the data will show you until you start doing experiments. Those experiments probably wont tell you the full story, so then you plan to do more experiments based on that. Once you have data that you think tells a cohesive story, THEN you can start to write a paper around the data. Writing the paper first introduces MASSIVE bias as you don't know what you are going to see. 90% of the time, experiments don't work out or have insignificant results that don't merit further discussion (an unfortunate truth about our peer review system). If that's the case then your paper, that you spent all this time writing, is dead in the water and needs to be revised.

To quote the article by George Whitesides that the above poster suggested, "Realize that your objective in research is to formulate and test hypothesis, to draw conclusions from these tests, and to teach these conclusions to others. Your objective is not to 'collect data'." 

Absolutely- thank you for writing this. I was shocked reading that method. It may seem more appropriate/doable for a translational or clinical study maybe (I'm not familiar with that kind of research) but my experience with basic science has been far from knowing where the chips will land, unless it's purely an observational study and you are sure that you won't be interested in looking at additional parameters/effects. Cannot count the amount of times that new data completely changed the direction of a project, scrapping the original objective as something unexpected or more interesting came up. Like you said, you come up with new methods as you decide to investigate something further, so why not just leave the writing to the end. Only after seeing what all your data tells you can you write a nice introduction that includes relevant information. 

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