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Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Best Ways to Work with Faculty and Residents on Academic Projects

Many medical students desire feedback about how their academic collaborations such as case reports, review articles and research projects are evaluated by dermatology faculty and residents. Here are a few tips about how to be successful in this process. UTMB has very supportive dermatology residents and faculty who will help you get the most of this experience. Many of our current residents have recently completed excellent dermatology research as medical students and they are happy to share their experiences with you. They want you to be successful too!

Good communication is definitely key to this activity. Residents and faculty should receive frequent updates from students about their progress. Successful projects require knowing what you want to do and having the time to do it. If you don't have time for a project or if the topic just does not interest you, be upfront about it. Another project more to your liking may become available, and you might be able to work on it. You could also come up with a project of your own. Those are often the best ones. The residents and faculty and the resources available on campus can help you design a good study using available resources.

Reliability is a close second to communication skills. If you are unable to attend a scheduled meeting, make sure you let everyone know in advance. If you are having problems meeting deadlines, quickly let your supervisors know and they probably will help. Depending on the type of project, sometimes other students are willing to join in with you to get it done. They should be rewarded by sharing the credit.

Requesting feedback on data analysis, the first or revised draft of a research proposal or manuscript and then not responding back again for several weeks or months after receiving a reply from the resident or faculty may be detrimental to the research. By then it is possible that your supervisor will have lost focus on the project and it may be difficult to revive it. Data can get old or get lost. Residents may graduate and now may be too busy to help right away as they transition into their new practices. Following up regularly and responding to feedback quickly is usually the best way to keep your academic project on track, get it completed and ready for submission to a meeting or a journal.

Good luck with your research!