Now that you have completed a research project, what’s next? If the work for your project is ready for you to write up, scroll down to the section on how to disseminate your work. If not, keep reading to find out how to make your project more scalable. In this context, “scalable” refers to having the potential of being taken further, beyond just giving you the experience of doing the hands-on work for the project.
Making Your Project More Scalable
For a project to have the potential to be published and presented at conferences/meetings, it has to add to the existing literature in some way. There has to be some element of novelty to your work and we can look at that from two perspectives: the research topic and study design. For the research topic, this might be in terms of updating a systematic review that was published some time ago where more recent research has been published, or studying a subset of a patient population where existing research is lacking. The research topic is something you decide on when picking your project (see my last blog post for tips on that), so it’s not something you can change by the time you’re done with the work for your project.
On the other hand, the study design presents as a tangible way to make your project more scalable by the time you’ve done your project with its existing sample. Work on presenting results that are more generalisable to the patient population. Generally this will mean making your project bigger, for example by increasing your sample size or collaborating with others to make it a multicentre study. It does add to the amount of work you have to do before you can start preparing to submit your work to a conference or academic journal, but it increases your chances of getting the work accepted for publication and presentation.
Disseminating Your Work
Once you are done with data collection and analysis, it is time to disseminate the results of your work. The key thing to do, keeping in mind that you want the output from your project to add to your portfolio is to publish and present the work. Start preparing the figures and tables for your results, along with an abstract of the work so you can submit them to conferences; for manuscripts start looking into journals and preparing a draft to submit with the help of your supervisor(s).
Another way of disseminating your work is to write up the work for submission to a medical student essay prize. Some prizes set titles that medical students can write about, whereas others ask for essays on original research/case reports you have done so it is worth researching potential options (blog post on essay prizes coming soon!). Some of these also offer cash prizes and learning opportunities for the specialty the essay prize is in, so there are added benefits on top of the CV boost you get if you win an award.
Some other things I suggest you consider doing to disseminate your research are related to scientific communication. While these might not directly add to your portfolio, it can help you start building a professional network and develop important writing skills. I also think the point of doing the research is so the medical/scientific community can learn from it so it is imperative that researchers take part in scientific communication - effective scientific communication helps your work reach more people!
You can write an open access article explaining the findings of your results, being careful to not infringe on any copyright restrictions if the work has been published. The article can then be published e.g. on a personal website or through medical school/medical student society publications. For example, I’ve seen the Paediatrics society at Manchester publish student articles about the 3rd year research projects students do; the cancer research centre has also done articles where PhD and Master’s students wrote about their project. You can also leverage social media and do a thread on Twitter or a LinkedIn post - these can be adapted from the article that you wrote.
Once the work for your research project is done, it’s time to start working on disseminating your findings. Before that, you might need to expand your dataset and do some extra data collection + analysis to maximise your chances of getting the work accepted for a publication/presentation. Once the analysis is done, you can start writing up the work in the form of conference presentations, academic publications, essay prize submissions, open access articles and social media content.