Welcome Pritzker Summer Research Program Research Seminar #2 Quick Check In

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Welcome Pritzker Summer Research Program Research Seminar #2

Quick Check In

  • Cluster group meetings?
  • Other problems?
    • Logistics? (epic, etc.)
    • Mentor?
    • Mixed feelings about project?
  • Seek guidance of your mentor, cluster leader, or SRP Directors
    • If you email ME, cc Dr. Wolfson & Kate Blythe and tell us your mentor’s name and title of your project for a more timely response

This Week

  • References
    • Any issues with Zotero?
    • Any issues with SRP website?
  • Introduction
    • Keep in mind your entire paper is roughly 3K words so not too much time on this
  • End with Aims & Hypothesis


  • Assembling a final paper
    • What are the other parts?
  • Writing abstracts (for end of summer)
  • Tips to Survive SRP


  • Unlike a novel, newspaper article or an essay…a scientific paper has a required structure and style
  • By international consensus "Introduction Methods Results and Discussion" or IMRaD
  • Hengl, T. and Gould, M., 2002. Rules of thumb for writing research articles.


  • Opening line
    • Start broad with something that interests your audience “the hook”
    • But not too broad
      • “Sleep is a required biological function”
    • Could frame it as a problem with scope
      • “Sleep deprivation is a common problem worldwide”
  • Funnel method to end
    • with your specific aim and your hypothesis


  • Routinely 2 to 3 paragraphs
    • Think about the 3 main items that someone needs to know to understand your aim
  • Each of these items could be a separate paragraph
    • Create topic sentences for each paragraph carefully that introduce the next idea
      • Need good ‘flow’
      • Transition words and phrases between ideas

Transitions Words

  • Similar idea
  • In addition
  • Furthermore
  • Moreover
  • also
  • Likewise
  • Similarly
  • As a result
  • For example
  • Opposite idea
  • However
  • Nevertheless
  • In contrast
  • Regardless
  • Monitor frequency of use to avoid overusing same word to start sentences

Strategic References

  • Avoid “reference rehash”
    • “Chang et al showed X. Towle et al demonstrated Y. Boone et al demonstrated Z.”
    • OK to do this for 1-2 landmark studies
  • Goal is to synthesize prior work
    • “Prior studies have showed…”
    • “Some studies showed that X…. In contrast, other studies showed Z.”

Create tension or ‘gap’

  • Given that other studies have taken place, why is your study needed
  • Highlight potential links to therapy, policy, scientific discovery
  • “To date, no study has explored…”
  • “Currently, it is unclear..”

Pitfalls of Introduction

  • Too long
  • Reference rehash or overload
  • Not making the case for the study – WHY?
  • Jargon or abbreviations not explained
  • Too broad
  • Poor flow

Aim and Hypothesis

  • End of the introduction
  • The specific aim of this paper is to…
  • We hypothesize that…
    • What is a hypothesis?


  • Step by step detailed protocol
  • In general, 3 main paragraphs
    • Study Design
    • Data Collection
    • Data Analysis

Study Design… including Setting & Population

  • Design
    • Retrospective or prospective?
    • RCT, pre-post, observational?
  • Setting: Where conducted?
    • Multicenter, single institution, in a lab, in the community.
  • Population: Who or what was studied?
    • People, cell lines, etc.
    • In enough detail so reader can assess generalizability
  • Often end with IRB/IACUC approval or exemption statement

Data Collection

  • Step by step, how was data collected
    • May use sub-sub headings if many types of methods
  • Give examples
    • how a survey question was worded & scale used
  • Describe any products/instruments used (inc manufacturer) and units reported
    • Reference studies that use these methods or validate these methods
  • Past tense
    • since it was done- not copied from IRB app or grant!

Data Analysis

  • Calculations used to arrive at the results
  • Data were analyzed using.. .
    • Specific tests
    • Qualitative or Quantitative
    • Any software or product used
  • How statistical or clinical significance was defined
    • Multiple comparisons may necessitate more conservative p values

Pitfalls of Methods

  • No data analysis section due to a fear of statistics
  • Too short
    • Not enough detail to understand study
    • Assuming that others know what your method is
  • No mention of IRB/IACUC
  • No methods references


  • Remember to start with the basics
    • “Descriptive statistics” - basic # to demonstrate
    • Describe study sample characteristics
      • Often referring to “Table 1”
    • Examples
      • # of experiments you’ve done
      • # of people you have enrolled (response rate)


  • Consider the “flow” – give most important results first or “set up” the important ones
    • Important results relate to your hypothesis
    • Followed by “secondary” results that are less important but interesting or characterize a finding further
  • Consider flow with your mentor
  • Likely will continue to work on results rest of summer (Upload a placeholder)

Project not working?

  • It is OK if…
    • Hypothesis is disproven
    • p value is >0.05
    • enrollment is low
    • results are slow
  • If a project is NOT working…
    • Meet with mentor to troubleshoot
      • IRB issues? Methodological problem?
      • Change direction?

Need Statistical Help

  • Use your mentor and resources of your mentor’s lab, Dept, colleagues etc.
    • May have a statistician for the project
    • Or someone they curbside for stats questions
  • Revisit notes from class
  • If your mentor needs help…
    • biostatistics assistance available to faculty (and their students)
    • Save for when you need it –at critical point
      • Costs $$$ after 2h of use (to your mentor)
    • http://biotime.uchicago.edu/

Initial Approaches to Data Analysis

  • Describe the variables
    • Height /weight ?
    • Likert type data ? (Strongly agree to strongly disagree)
    • Gender?
    • Race? / Specialty you will go into?
  • This is the KEY to decide what statistical test to use

Figures/ Graphs / Tables

  • Show the data the best you can
  • Tables and Graphs should be “stand alone”
    • That is they should convey the meaning of the data without HAVING to read the paper
  • Often this will require a legend

How Most People Read Journals

  • Read Title
  • Read Intro (first few lines) to decide to read further
  • Look at figures/ tables to see if they can get the gist of your work
  • Read conclusion
  • But, reviewers do not read this way!
  • Neither do those “looking for your article”

Managing Expectations

  • TIME
    • your timeline consistent with mentor/lab?
    • VERY UNUSUAL to have paper ready to submit to journal at end of summer
    • Publicationdepends on factors out of your control (Project, mentor, scientific climate)
      • Even a good project takes years to publish

What Might You Have?

  • Abstract Writing
  • Writing a good abstract is critical to scientific research
  • Why?

Challenge of Writing a Good Abstract

  • Many people find it harder to be terse
  • Or do not choose the most relevant information
  • Key is to stay big picture and focus on the MAIN points

Submitting to a meeting

  • Abstracts are your entry point to get to meetings
  • Look up the format for when you write – DO NOT JUST WRITE
  • 1st --what is the word count (write that at the bottom so you know how far over/under you are always)

Abstract writing

  • VERY different from papers
  • Usually 250-500 words (required for those of you on NIH training grants) so keep it very brief
  • Same format “IMRaD” or a format they specify (i.e. “innovation abstracts)

Abstract Writing

  • Always takes longer than you think
  • Start early!
  • Get feedback
  • Can often write the background and methods while you wait for the results

Keys to Good Abstracts

  • Intro sets the stage but does not go into more depth than needed. only 1-2 sentences
  • Methods understandable (not vague/skimpy)
  • Results – provide the data to support main points (need to decide what those are)
  • Conclusion reinforces main points and includes forward thinking implications for future work

Tips to Surviving SRP

  • Focus on the process and making sure you are on top of your assignments
    • Results should come eventually and sometimes no way to ‘force’ them
    • Figure out how to troubleshoot & consider plans B & C
    • Sometimes you have to change your hypothesis to accommodate this change too

Tips to Surviving SRP

  • Cultivate a working relationship & rhythm with your mentor and mentor’s lab
    • Proactively communicate but respect their competing obligations that prevent you from being their top priority at every moment
  • Graduating students will tell us that finding a good mentor is the key to a successful experience (not the “project”)

Tips to Surviving SRP

  • The timeline to produce anything meaningful is LONG
  • People spend their whole lives on making one breakthrough
  • You have 10 weeks
    • This is in some ways a ‘jumpstart’ to learning about research and your interests

Tips to Surviving SRP

  • Do not focus on “publishing” a paper
  • Think about more appropriate dissemination for a first step
      • SRP Forum counts!
      • Internal conferences “Dept of Surgery Research Day”
      • Regional or national conference
    • The first step is submitting an abstract

Needed for Payday!

  • Check #1 available AFTER…
  • Requires validation of
    • References
    • Hypothesis
    • Introduction

Special Emphasis Programs

  • START (Scholars in Translational Aging Research Training)
    • Starts June 20th
    • Confirmation emails this week
  • SOAR (Scholars in Oncology Associated Research)
    • Starts July 5th
    • Includes interprofessional component

Authorship workshop

  • Led by Dr. Wolfson
    • Part of REQUIRED research ethics curriculum
  • Effective Scientific Presentations July 25th NEW TIME 11AM!!!
    • What you need to know to present at SRP Forum
    • Planning for MS2 S&D


SRP Questions

  • SRP ?s
    • When your mentor or cluster group leader can’t answer…
    • Email to Dr. Arora SHOULD CC Kate Blythe
      • Most questions are logistical
      • Depends on type of research

SRP  S&D?

  • (n=64, Aug 2013)

SRP  S&D?

  • (n=64, Aug 2013)

Looking Forward to MS2

  • Some of you will continue your project as part of Scholarship & Discovery MS2 Block (5 weeks at end of MS2 year after USMLE before mS3)
  • Some of you may not want to because

Fall MS2

  • Submit track application in early NOVEMBER
    • Although this seems like a long time away, the key is that you don’t start back until Sept 22nd (which is really already October)
  • So, if you have an inclination to switch, you may want to think about new mentors for your MS2 year S&D block

Some pitfalls

  • MS2 think they get more done than they will during MS2 year before the Block starts
    • They don’t factor in how time consuming CPP&T or how tiring studying for USMLE is
  • Many want to “start” a new project since all they have to do is “finish a paper” from SRP
    • “finishing a paper” easily takes more than 5 weeks!
    • Don’t take on too much

SOAR Scholars in Oncology Associated Research

  • Specific aims of SOAR
  • Improve medical student knowledge of oncologic disciplines with respect to clinical care, basic sciences, and social sciences
  • Introduce students to the multidisciplinary and interprofessional aspects of oncology
  • Instructional Methods

Seminar survey series

  • 45-60 minute lectures covering clinical and research aspects of
    • Medical, surgical & radiation oncology
    • Cancer genetics
    • Cancer disparities
    • Cancer economics
    • Drug development
    • Survivorship care
    • Hospice / Palliative medicine

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