Cody Lo (Class of 2021) shares some tips for keeping up with research using social media:
One of the challenging aspects of being a productive medical student-researcher is balancing your academic responsibilities and keeping up with your research. Taking leadership of a research project requires you to stay up to date on current research in your field of study. Often the time course between inception of a project and its completion can be over a year. There is no worse feeling than starting to write a manuscript only to realize there was a seminal paper published since you last looked at the literature that completely changes how you approach your study. During medical school, I’ve found a number of ways using different platforms to consume research news that makes it easier to stay informed. Here are some resources I’ve found helpful:
- Podcasts: Many of the large and specialty-specific journals (ie NEJM or JAMA Cardiology) publish audio summaries and author interviews about their most prominent articles. This is a great medium to make your commute or chores more productive.
- Twitter: There are many academics (ie @VPrasadMDMPH, @DrJohnM etc) who post “tweetorials” (longer form tweets) on recent research developments. This is a nice way to see “live” commentary on research by experts that would usually be reserve for Letters to the Editor which are published weeks or months after initial publication.
- Instagram: Similar benefits to the above 2 mediums depending on the account but are typically more visual in presentation. There are also pages with more lighthearted content, like memes, that try to convey scientific evidence in a digestible and/or humorous format (ie @covid19memedicine)
- Email lists: Almost all journals have an email newsletter highlighting their most important recent articles. Subscribing to alerts from some of the most relevant journals to your project is a good way to keep up with more niche areas. While *some* of these emails may go unopened, it can also remove the cognitive burden of having to manually check journal websites when you do have time to read.
It is important to consider that only papers deemed “high impact” will be featured on these platforms and may not align exactly with your research interests. If your area of study is more specific you can also set up email alerts on Google Scholar for certain keywords. Remember when reading about a study on social media, be sure to apply the same level of critical appraisal as you would with all academic papers. Hopefully these tips will lower the barrier to staying up to date on recent research advancements.
Photo credits: The Stem Cell Network Till & Mcculloch Meetings. Mont-Tremblant, Quebec. November 7 & 8 , 2017. © Allen McEachern.