Education for Health

LETTER TO THE EDITOR
Year
: 2016  |  Volume : 29  |  Issue : 3  |  Page : 273--274

Medical student journals: Critical to the development of physician-scientists


Ibrahim Saleh Al-Busaidi 
 Department of General Medicine, Christchurch Public Hospital, Christchurch, New Zealand

Correspondence Address:
Ibrahim Saleh Al-Busaidi
University of Otago, 2 Riccarton Avenue, P.O. Box 4345, Christchurch 8140
New Zealand




How to cite this article:
Al-Busaidi IS. Medical student journals: Critical to the development of physician-scientists.Educ Health 2016;29:273-274


How to cite this URL:
Al-Busaidi IS. Medical student journals: Critical to the development of physician-scientists. Educ Health [serial online] 2016 [cited 2021 Oct 26 ];29:273-274
Available from: https://www.educationforhealth.net/text.asp?2016/29/3/273/204220


Full Text

Dear Editor,

Research and clinical practice are the two most enjoyable and fulfilling aspects of my recently established career in medicine. Although research is an endeavor that I now greatly enjoy, it was not always the case. While reading “How do Medical Student Journals Fare? A Global Survey of Journals Run by Medical Students,”[1] I remembered the many struggles and self-doubt I grappled with as a medical student trying to gain a foothold in academia.

My first ever experience with the process of publishing was in 2011. After completing my 2nd year in medicine, I decided to spend part of my summer vacation in learning how to write a review article for publication as part of my “informal” undergraduate research training.

My experience with the submission process was heartbreaking; I received rejection letters one after another from more than ten mid-tier medical journals. Some journals even took more than 2 months to e-mail back “your manuscript has been denied publication,” with no formal review or suggestions on how to improve the manuscript.

I became increasingly frustrated as well as disappointed with the peer-review process. At some point, it seemed that publishing in a nonprestigious mid-tier medical journal is an unattainable task for a medical student. I nearly gave up on attempting to publish my review paper until a friend directed my attention to medical student journals (MSJs). It took a little over 2 years of submissions, rejections, several rounds of rigorous peer review and revisions for the papers to be finally published. I learned then that the road to publication is very long and bumpy, and in some cases can be demotivating and confidence crushing.

In my opinion, the survival of MSJs is essential in this age of a declining physician-scientist workforce.[2] MSJs serve as an opportunity for novice medical student researchers to experience the publication process, from manuscript preparation through peer review to acceptance/rejection of a manuscript. Furthermore, MSJs play an important role in undergraduate medical research training (i.e., scientific communication and critical appraisal). The “student-friendly” peer-review process often adopted by MSJs motivates students to submit their work, thereby promoting ongoing involvement in research.

This author has rightly raised some concerns regarding the impact and quality of MSJs. As a former editorial staff member of the New Zealand MSJ and the American Medical Student Research Journal, I suggest that all MSJs should continue to run as stand-alone journals and must be under a “student-friendly” peer-review system shared with an established national mainstream medical journal. Furthermore, peer review of student-authored manuscripts should be shared by expert and student reviewers. These measures will ensure high quality and visibility of accepted manuscripts and guarantee the educational and research training benefits (for student authors and reviewers) associated with the submission and peer-review process.

I urge medical students who are embarking on their research careers not to give up on academia and to persevere through what may be a very challenging peer-review and publishing process.

Financial support and sponsorship

Nil.

Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.

References

1Alamri Y. How do medical student journals fare? A global survey of journals run by medical students. Educ Health (Abingdon) 2016;29:136-41.
2Milewicz DM, Lorenz RG, Dermody TS, Brass LF; National Association of MD-PhD Programs Executive Committee. Rescuing the physician-scientist workforce: The time for action is now. J Clin Invest 2015;125:3742-7.