Research - A Trainee's Perspective
Research in Training
Why should I do research?
• The only way to improve clinical standards is through asking scientific questions. The only way to ask these questions is through clinical research.
• Performing research yourself allows you to critically appraise other authors’ papers quickly and adopt good research findings and guidance into your own dynamic practice.
• High quality research can raise the profile of the institution you are working in.
• It can be very gratifying to know that you are contributing to the scientific community.
• It allows you to forge relationships with your consultant trainers and also allows you to develop a rapport with the prospective institutions that you are aiming to secure for fellowship (A systematic review or meta-analysis is a good option here for the institutions that you have not yet worked in) .
• Finally, it ensures that you will be competitive when applying for future fellowship/consultant positions.
How can I start doing research?
• Firstly, I would highly recommend that you complete the MCh, specifically focussing on the statistics modules. I completed the MCh in RCSI under Prof. O’Byrne. At that time, we were given the STATA statistical programme as part of the course. Since then, I have been able to carry out my own statistical analysis of any dataset I have worked with. Being able to eliminate the use of a statistician (for straight-forward statistics) has been invaluable in giving me the autonomy to carry out my own research.
• Find (or create) a comprehensive dataset. Ideally, the use of previously established joint registries or hip fracture databases are preferred. If you can avoid searching through hundreds of charts collecting data, you will save significant amounts of time which can be used for writing more papers.
• “Start at the bottom” - For your first few papers, collect the data, collaborate with a senior SpR and they will help you through the process initially. As you become more able, in later years, you can then move away from data collection towards statistics and paper writing. Towards the end of your training, you should aim to oversee your junior colleagues writing a number of papers at one time-meaning that you become more productive as time progresses.
• Stick to schedule - Have regular meetings and don’t let anything stagnate. Keep a gentle and supportive pressure on your colleagues and never let any paper that you have written pass without publication (There is a home for every paper!).
What should be my research aims?
• Aim to publish as many papers as possible during your time in training (minimum requirement is 3 papers but you should easily be able to reach that target).
• Aim high for prestigious journals (with a high impact factor) first – often you will have to readjust your expectations if not initially successful, but always keep trying.
• Aim to present at the IOA every year – this is a great way to gain exposure among your colleagues on a national scale.
• Present at as many international conferences and congresses as possible.
• Make the most of congresses that are held in Ireland – this can save on costs hugely.
• Finally, and most importantly, ENJOY it, and have pride in your work!!