Research for Medical Students (Part 1)
Hope you are doing great.
This topic remains untouched and un-taught in our medical institutes, although with our existing resources, we can't even imagine to compete with the rest of the world, however, hospitals like Shaukat Khanum do have the research requirements in them and they do help you out to join them for research electives.
Yet, Kemcolians are ignorant of the word "Research", despite some stuff taught by community medicine department that, even in the remotest of chances, doesn't qualify as a true research valid for publication. However, Dr. Maaz has to be credited in a way that he is teaching the use of SPSS in a very understandable way once you are through all that process there. And if you didn't learn to use SPSS there, I can feel sorry for you guys.
Having said that, I'll go stepwise for the research methodology that anyone at any institute can apply to start a project that can be published in some respectable journal. This is how I've managed to complete 4 research papers that have been either accepted for publication, or have been published with the Grace of Allah, and many others on their way to various journals.
Here you go folks:
First step in research process is making a team of dedicated guys, who are actually "dedicated", there will be lots of offers of monetary benefits provided in exchange of name in the papers, but trust me, thats the most unfair thing one can do with his own efforts. With dedicated people, I mean 24/7 guys with no distractions as girl-friends or addictions, willing to work and not just criticize the weather and working conditions, you might have to sit without a fan in june-july from dawn to dusk, on weekends, and then you'll achieve something. By team, I mean a couple of guys whom you can trust, and not more than 4-5 guys, although I always preferred to work in pairs.
Once you have the guys that wont back down, the second step is "ideas collection", as I said, everyone needs to work, so everyone needs to collect Ideas, not just one guy, what happens in community research ain't gonna work here fellas. Bring a fresh resilient idea, not one like inception, you are of course not going for the Oscars with your first film, just bring something better than survey on hair color or use of deodorants. That ain't gonna sell, trust me. Bring something, anything, steal someone's idea, do whatever, but don't ask anyone else, no one is gonna give you a prepared supper for you to feast on, and thats quite understandable.
Consider yourself lucky to be a kemcolian, there is no help for researchers, yet there is no data collected on the vast numbers of patients that rot daily in Mayo Hospital. There is very little data in whole Punjab or even Pakistan. For a good idea, go to internet, take sometime out from the "precious time you spend on facebook", and browse through the topics on any site, e.g. Pubmed or Medline. There are thousands of articles for every disease, with tens if not hundreds of those which you can apply at your Hospital. Find a topic related to a medium disease, a common yet rare disease, one which you can see patients in Pakistani tertiary care hospitals, but not in Harvard or NIH. Just type the name of the disease in the search area on these websites and they'll pour you the ideas, lots of them. Read the articles, or abstracts, and then find there practical nature, find out what good they'll do if done at your hospital, find out what impact they have if they are conducted as study, not like the community medicine topics that can't change anything (no offence thou, but the use of shampoo or soap has a little impact as compared to a genuine disease, on the community as well as your CV). Find a rarity, but not a rarity that has been already studied at your institute, or not a rarity that has so rare patients that you can't even find enough patients. Don't choose MI, Diarrhea, sore throat, rheumatic fever or any such presentations that will need you to collect data from thousands of patients for a reasonable study that can be published. Keep things simple and secret!!!!
Having completed these two steps, you'll be done through a quarter of your research, so the next post I'll put, I'll take you to the next quarter.
Dr. AK Malik