|Year : 2013 | Volume
| Issue : 2 | Page : 115-116
From the editors of a Student journal
Rajat Thawani1, Gurmeen Kaur2, Pranab Chatterjee3, Tamoghna Biswas4
1 Intern, University College of Medical Sciences, Delhi, India
2 Resident Physician, SUNY Upsate Medical University, USA
3 Department of Community Medicine, University College of Medical Sciences, Delhi, India
4 Independent Researcher, Kolkata, India
|Date of Web Publication||29-Oct-2013|
Intern, University College of Medical Sciences, Delhi, F-61/B, Gangotri Enclave, Alaknanda, New Delhi - 110 019
Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None
Formal training in research is lacking most of the medical training programs of the world. Research can be of great help in producing more physician scientists. Students' journals can encourage research amongst medical students. But student journals face a lot of problems. The editors are students who are busy with their curricula. Moreover, there is no compensation. Additionally, since, not many student journals are visible, students doing research try and submit to prestigious journals and when face rejection, get de-motivated. There is no single solution to all the problems faced by a student journal. However, it needs to be appreciated that they are a necessity, hence, they should be encouraged actively. Collaboration between the multiple stakeholders involved (funding agencies, institutions, experts on biomedical ethics, student researchers and their faculty mentors) is the need of the hour to further expand and empower the existing student journals and set up new ones.
Keywords: Medical education, medical research, student journal
|How to cite this article:|
Thawani R, Kaur G, Chatterjee P, Biswas T. From the editors of a Student journal. Educ Health 2013;26:115-6
Formal training in medical research is lacking among undergraduates in many countries including India. Exposure to research not only introduces a career option to students, but also helps them practice medicine more effectively. Further, through research, medical students may learn the art of critical reading of papers. This leads to a more effective practice of evidence-based medicine when they start their practice of medicine. ,
In our observation, research among medical students in India has been on the rise lately, although no study has measured this formally. We believe that most medical student research is not published; the majority of undergraduate research projects are not of sufficient methodological rigor to pass the strict peer-review of leading journals. A study by Dhaliwal
et al. concludes that much of the work done by residents in Delhi is not published, and residents are more advanced in training than undergraduates.  This leaves a lot of student research hidden from the world's readers.  Further, having journals reject one's papers can be highly de-motivating for students and can discourage them from pursuing future research.
In our opinion, this is where student journals can help. Student journals can encourage research among medical students. This can increase postgraduation research involvement by students and some may become motivated to pursue a full-time research career.  This may help address the shortage of physician scientists in our country, a problem long recognized in the West. 
We feel that it is this void that student medical journals can help fill. They can provide a platform for students in the biomedical fields to publish their work, as well as to express their opinions and perspectives. Working with a student-friendly peer-review, a student journal can ensure that the editors and reviewers work with the student authors - most of whom are inexperienced in scientific writing - to improve their papers without significantly compromising scientific and ethical standards.
As the editors of the Asian Students' Medical Journal (ASMJ), we recognize this need. Our journal gives a platform for medical students to publish their research and to be part of the peer-review process. This provides experience that they can use for future publication in a more wider-read journal. Further, the journal's editors, who are students trained by their predecessors, garner valuable experience in the editorial process during their brief periods as editors.
A student journal faces many difficulties. As the editors for one, we realize that our journal is almost always the last choice for a student-author as evidenced by the time lag between data collection and paper submission. Students, like all authors, want to submit to prestigious journals for more visibility in the field. Informal observations suggest that funding agencies are now funding more student research and more students are involved in research, but the number of publications by students is not increasing at the same rate.
Student journals face many challenges. Students on editorial boards are always busy with their academic responsibilities. The structured, inflexible curriculum offers little time for a medical student to devote to the work of the journal. There are no apparent, immediate and tangible incentives for investing time in learning about the editorial process and serving as editor of a student journal. Many are fairly passionate at first for what they do as part of a journal's editorial board, but after a point, the need for appreciable benefits overpowers the passion, and interest wanes.
Another challenge we face is a lack of recognition for our journals, whose visibility can be poor. Only a couple student journals are indexed on PubMed. There is no database for showcasing student research. This may be because of the lack of funding for student journals and questions about the reliability of the editorial and peer-review processes stemming from an inherent distrust of the amateur enterprise. Greater funding may create more awareness about a student journal and help these journals find access to better resources like websites and managing editors.
There is no single solution to all the problems faced by student journals. However, these problems need to be recognized and addressed. Experts and agencies should utilize the potential of student journals for promoting awareness about research among medical students. Collaboration between multiple stakeholders (funding agencies, educational institutions, experts in biomedical ethics, student researchers, and their faculty mentors) is needed to expand and empower existing student journals and establish new ones. Giving academic credit to students who work for student journals can also help spread awareness of these journals. It will also help if the field recognizes student journals as an important resource. It is through organized, concerted and conscious promotion of student research and journal involvement that we can create a generation of medical scientists who can comfortably bridge the gulf between the bedside and the bench.
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