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Questions about research opportunities during school year


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Hello all,

I'm an incoming first year med student at UofT and I was wondering when the appropriate time was for searching/thinking about potential research projects for the school year. I don't have that much experience with research in undergrad and so I'm worried I may be behind compared to some of my older classmates who might have gone through fourth year thesis projects, masters, or PhDs. There are a few questions so if anyone has some insight please let me know!

1. From some quick googling I saw that epidemiological, translational, or clinical research typically take less time and are more suited for a full-time medical student's schedule. Does anyone have any insights on the differences between these areas in terms of typical hours, likelihood for abstracts/conferences/papers, and timeframe of projects (e.g. #months-years)?

2. Additionally, how important is it to conduct research in a specific specialty/area you're interested in? I have no idea what I want to specialize in yet so it'd be nice knowing that doing research in a specific specialty won't hinder my efforts to match into another specialty down the road. 

3. Finally, is it possible for a school year project to be converted to a summer project with grant funding? I looked into CREMS but I'm not sure if there's opportunities for continuity of projects. 

Thanks a ton! 

 

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Hi there,

Will do my best to answer your questions:

1) The differences in those areas will mainly be determined by the individual labs and supervisors, as well as the field and the particular project. There is vast variability even within those fields. Typically, translational and clinical research take a bit longer than standard epidemiological since they involve participants and experimentation vs. just analyzing data. Also, any field of interest is usually amenable to a systematic review and meta-analysis which is a good project for someone with little to no research experience. I think the minimum time frame for a project is from 6 months to 1 year (with the latter being more likely). This will be impacted by the project, the involvement of others, and your own speed. But for someone with no experience I would say at least 1 year including peer review process, revisions etc.

2) It is only important if you are trying to get into a very very competitive field (i.e. ophtho, ENT, plastics, etc.). Otherwise, having it related to your field is helpful but not essential. There is still benefit and value in undertaking research in an unrelated field and it will not hinder your applications

3) This is dependent on the lab and or program at the school. Most official research programs will be funded for "x" period of time, but any unfinished work would likely have to be finished on your own schedule and would be unpaid. Unless you specifically speak to your supervisor about this ahead of time. Each situation is different.

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A side note -- you do not have to do research as part of medical school.  You will already be very very busy.  There are a lot of opportunities at UofT to be involved in related things like advocacy and support programs.  My point is don't rush into research just because you think you are suppose to do it.

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7 hours ago, robclem21 said:

Hi there,

Will do my best to answer your questions:

1) The differences in those areas will mainly be determined by the individual labs and supervisors, as well as the field and the particular project. There is vast variability even within those fields. Typically, translational and clinical research take a bit longer than standard epidemiological since they involve participants and experimentation vs. just analyzing data. Also, any field of interest is usually amenable to a systematic review and meta-analysis which is a good project for someone with little to no research experience. I think the minimum time frame for a project is from 6 months to 1 year (with the latter being more likely). This will be impacted by the project, the involvement of others, and your own speed. But for someone with no experience I would say at least 1 year including peer review process, revisions etc.

2) It is only important if you are trying to get into a very very competitive field (i.e. ophtho, ENT, plastics, etc.). Otherwise, having it related to your field is helpful but not essential. There is still benefit and value in undertaking research in an unrelated field and it will not hinder your applications

3) This is dependent on the lab and or program at the school. Most official research programs will be funded for "x" period of time, but any unfinished work would likely have to be finished on your own schedule and would be unpaid. Unless you specifically speak to your supervisor about this ahead of time. Each situation is different.

Thank you for this! Do people usually cold-email profs similar to undergrad? Or is the process a little more formalized/personal?

2 hours ago, Meridian said:

A side note -- you do not have to do research as part of medical school.  You will already be very very busy.  There are a lot of opportunities at UofT to be involved in related things like advocacy and support programs.  My point is don't rush into research just because you think you are suppose to do it.

Youre definitely right. I’ve just seen that for some programs, research is a “checkbox” that helps out. Idk what I wanna do yet but I’m trying to keep as many doors as open. And since my background contains very little research I figured it might be a good area to catch up on! 

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If it is an organized program, you should follow the procedures outlined by the application. Otherwise, you can just email people you are interested in working with. I have secured projects via both routes. You will find it much easier to connect with supervisors and obtain an email response when you mention you're a medical student compared to undergrad where most emails will get ignored.

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