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1.  In Memoriam Mila Rainof, MD 
Since 1839, Yale medical students have been writing theses as part of their professional training. It is an introduction to the practice of original research, a demanding and sometimes exhausting pursuit. The thesis project promotes a tenacity well suited for the practice of medicine. The thesis advisor has a challenging role as well — one that can only be filled by an individual whose dedication to research is matched with a patience for mentoring students.
In a dedicated commentary included in this issue of the journal, Margaret Drickamer, MD, Associate Professor of Medicine at Yale University, shares her account of one advisor’s relationship to a maturing clinician-scholar. Mila Rainof, MD, was a member of the Yale School of Medicine 2008 graduating class. She died tragically in April 2008, just months prior to beginning an emergency medicine residency in Oakland, California.
By including Drickamer’s commentary with Rainof’s thesis abstract, the Yale Journal of Biology and Medicine honors Rainof’s memory and also celebrates the professional work and scholarly life that took form during her relationship with her thesis advisor.
The Yale School of Medicine has established the Mila Rainof, MD, Memorial Fund in her honor.
PMCID: PMC2496696
2.  Wikis and Collaborative Writing Applications in Health Care: A Scoping Review Protocol 
JMIR Research Protocols  2012;1(1):e1.
The rapid rise in the use of collaborative writing applications (eg, wikis, Google Documents, and Google Knol) has created the need for a systematic synthesis of the evidence of their impact as knowledge translation (KT) tools in the health care sector and for an inventory of the factors that affect their use. While researchers have conducted systematic reviews on a range of software-based information and communication technologies as well as other social media (eg, virtual communities of practice, virtual peer-to-peer communities, and electronic support groups), none have reviewed collaborative writing applications in the medical sector. The overarching goal of this project is to explore the depth and breadth of evidence for the use of collaborative writing applications in health care. Thus, the purposes of this scoping review will be to (1) map the literature on collaborative writing applications; (2) compare the applications’ features; (3) describe the evidence of each application’s positive and negative effects as a KT intervention in health care; (4) inventory and describe the barriers and facilitators that affect the applications’ use; and (5) produce an action plan and a research agenda. A six-stage framework for scoping reviews will be used: (1) identifying the research question; (2) identifying relevant studies within the selected databases (using the EPPI-Reviewer software to classify the studies); (3) selecting studies (an iterative process in which two reviewers search the literature, refine the search strategy, and review articles for inclusion); (4) charting the data (using EPPI-Reviewer’s data-charting form); (5) collating, summarizing, and reporting the results (performing a descriptive, numerical, and interpretive synthesis); and (6) consulting knowledge users during three planned meetings. Since this scoping review concerns the use of collaborative writing applications as KT interventions in health care, we will use the Knowledge to Action (KTA) framework to describe and compare the various studies and collaborative writing projects we find. In addition to guiding the use of collaborative writing applications in health care, this scoping review will advance the science of KT by testing tools that could be used to evaluate other social media. We also expect to identify areas that require further systematic reviews and primary research and to produce a highly relevant research agenda that explores and leverages the potential of collaborative writing software. To date, this is the first study to use the KTA framework to study the role collaborative writing applications in KT, and the first to involve three national and international institutional knowledge users as part of the research process.
doi:10.2196/resprot.1993
PMCID: PMC3626140  PMID: 23612481
3.  A survey of doctorates by thesis among general practitioners in the British Isles from 1973 to 1988. 
Doctors who were general practitioners in the period 1973-88 and had written a successful MD or PhD thesis were identified. Of 96 doctorates, 64 were MDs and 32 PhDs. Fourteen doctors had obtained their MD before becoming general practitioners and the remaining 50 after becoming general practitioners. Twenty of the 64 doctors were full time or part time members of a university department of general practice; six of these were professors. In this 16 year study the mean annual number of MDs written by doctors while in general practice was three, compared with five in the previous 15 years. Of the PhDs, 11 were obtained before starting a medical course, six during the pre-clinical period, three after qualifying but before entry into general practice and 12 after entry into general practice. Ninety two per cent of the 50 doctors who obtained their MDs while in general practice and 84% of all the doctors with MDs continued to do research afterwards. Further research was carried out by 81% of doctors with a PhD. The best way of producing good researchers in general practice is to encourage doctors to accept the challenge of writing a PhD or an MD thesis. This study has shown that writing such a thesis encourages rather than discourages a doctor to undertake further research.
PMCID: PMC1371444  PMID: 2282226
4.  Do Students Eventually Get to Publish their Research Findings? The Case of Human Immunodeficiency Virus/Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome Research in Cameroon 
Background:
Scientific publication is commonly used to communicate research findings and in most academic/research settings, to evaluate the potential of a researcher and for recruitment and promotion. It has also been said that researchers have the duty to make public, the findings of their research. As a result, researchers are encouraged to share their research findings with the scientific world through peer review publications. In this study, we looked at the characteristics and publication rate of theses that documented studies on human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)/acquired immunodeficiency syndrome in Cameroon.
Materials and Methods:
To check if a thesis resulted in a publication, we searched: A database of publications on HIV in Cameroon, African Journals Online, PubMed and Google scholar. For each publication we recorded if the student was an author, the position of the student in the author listing, the journal and where the journal was indexed. We also looked at the impact factor of the journals.
Results:
One hundred and thirty theses/dissertations were included in the study, 74.6% (97/130) were written as part of a medical degree (MD), 23.8% (31/130) a postgraduate (PG) degree and 1.5% (2/130) for a Doctorate/PhD. On a whole, 13.9% (18/130) of the theses resulted in at least one publication in a scientific journal with a total of 22 journal articles, giving a mean publication rate of 0.17 article/thesis, 86.4% (11/22) were indexed on PubMed, 9.1% (2/22) on African Journals Online and 4.6% (1/22) on Google scholar. One PG thesis led to two book chapters. The student was the first author in 22.7% (5/22) of the articles and not an author in 9.1% (2/22) of the articles. Student supervisor was an author in all the articles.
Conclusion:
This study reveals that most students in Cameroon failed to transform their theses/dissertations to scientific publications. This indicates an urgent need to sensitize students on the importance of presenting their research findings in scientific meetings and peer reviewed journals. There is also a great necessity to build capacity in scientific writing among university students in Cameroon.
doi:10.4103/2141-9248.133474
PMCID: PMC4071747  PMID: 24971222
Cameroon; Graduate and medical students; Human immunodeficiency virus/acquired immunodeficiency syndrome; Publication rates
5.  The Relationship of Previous Training and Experience of Journal Peer Reviewers to Subsequent Review Quality 
PLoS Medicine  2007;4(1):e40.
Background
Peer review is considered crucial to the selection and publication of quality science, but very little is known about the previous experiences and training that might identify high-quality peer reviewers. The reviewer selection processes of most journals, and thus the qualifications of their reviewers, are ill defined. More objective selection of peer reviewers might improve the journal peer review process and thus the quality of published science.
Methods and Findings
306 experienced reviewers (71% of all those associated with a specialty journal) completed a survey of past training and experiences postulated to improve peer review skills. Reviewers performed 2,856 reviews of 1,484 separate manuscripts during a four-year study period, all prospectively rated on a standardized quality scale by editors. Multivariable analysis revealed that most variables, including academic rank, formal training in critical appraisal or statistics, or status as principal investigator of a grant, failed to predict performance of higher-quality reviews. The only significant predictors of quality were working in a university-operated hospital versus other teaching environment and relative youth (under ten years of experience after finishing training). Being on an editorial board and doing formal grant (study section) review were each predictors for only one of our two comparisons. However, the predictive power of all variables was weak.
Conclusions
Our study confirms that there are no easily identifiable types of formal training or experience that predict reviewer performance. Skill in scientific peer review may be as ill defined and hard to impart as is “common sense.” Without a better understanding of those skills, it seems unlikely journals and editors will be successful in systematically improving their selection of reviewers. This inability to predict performance makes it imperative that all but the smallest journals implement routine review ratings systems to routinely monitor the quality of their reviews (and thus the quality of the science they publish).
A survey of experienced reviewers, asked about training they had received in peer review, found there are no easily identifiable types of formal training and experience that predict reviewer performance.
Editors' Summary
Background.
When medical researchers have concluded their research and written it up, the next step is to get it published as an article in a journal, so that the findings can be circulated widely. These published findings help determine subsequent research and clinical use. The editors of reputable journals, including PLoS Medicine, have to decide whether the articles sent to them are of good quality and accurate and whether they will be of interest to the readers of their journal. To do this they need to obtain specialist advice, so they contact experts in the topic of the research article and ask them to write reports. This is the process of scientific peer review, and the experts who write such reports are known as “peer reviewers.” Although the editors make the final decision, the advice and criticism of these peer reviewers to the editors is essential in making decisions on publication, and usually in requiring authors to make changes to their manuscript. The contribution that peer reviewers have made to the article by the time it is finally published may, therefore, be quite considerable.
Although peer review is accepted as a key part of the process for the publishing of medical research, many people have argued that there are flaws in the system. For example, there may be an element of luck involved; one author might find their paper being reviewed by a reviewer who is biased against the approach they have adopted or who is a very critical person by nature, and another author may have the good fortune to have their work considered by someone who is much more favorably disposed toward their work. Some reviewers are more knowledgeable and thorough in their work than others. The editors of medical journals try to take in account such biases and quality factors in their choice of peer reviewers or when assessing the reviews. Some journals have run training courses for experts who review for them regularly to try to make the standard of peer review as high as possible.
Why Was This Study Done?
It is hard for journal editors to know who will make a good peer reviewer, and there is no proven system for choosing them. The authors of this study wanted to identify the previous experiences and training that make up the background of good peer reviewers and compare them with the quality of the reviews provided. This would help journal editors select good people for the task in future, and as a result will affect the quality of science they publish for readers, including other researchers.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The authors contacted all the regular reviewers from one specialist journal (Annals of Emergency Medicine). A total of 306 of these experienced reviewers (71% of all those associated with the journal) completed a survey of past training and experiences that might be expected to improve peer review skills. These reviewers had done 2,856 reviews of 1,484 separate manuscripts during a four-year study period, and during this time the quality of the reviews had been rated by the journal's editors. Surprisingly, most variables, including academic rank, formal training in critical appraisal or statistics, or status as principal investigator of a grant, failed to predict performance of higher-quality reviews. The only significant predictors of quality were working in a university-operated hospital versus other teaching environment and relative youth (under ten years of experience after finishing training), and even these were only weak predictors.
What Do These Findings Mean?
This study suggest that there are no easily identifiable types of formal training or experience that predict peer reviewer performance, although it is clear that some reviewers (and reviews) are better than others. The authors suggest that it is essential therefore that journals routinely monitor the quality of reviews submitted to them to ensure they are getting good advice (a practice that is not universal).
Additional Information.
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.0040040
• WAME is an association of editors from many countries who seek to foster international cooperation among editors of peer-reviewed medical journals
• The Fifth International Congress on Peer Review and Biomedical Publication is one of a series of conferences on peer review
• The PLoS Medicine guidelines for reviewers outline what we look for in a review
• The Council of Science Editors promotes ethical scientific publishing practices
• An editorial also published in this issue of PLoS Medicine discusses the peer review process further
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.0040040
PMCID: PMC1796627  PMID: 17411314
6.  How to Write Articles that Get Published 
Publications are essential for sharing knowledge, and career advancement. Writing a research paper is a challenge. Most graduate programmes in medicine do not offer hands-on training in writing and publishing in scientific journals. Beginners find the art and science of scientific writing a daunting task. ‘How to write a scientific paper?, Is there a sure way to successful publication ?’ are the frequently asked questions. This paper aims to answer these questions and guide a beginner through the process of planning, writing, and correction of manuscripts that attract the readers and satisfies the peer reviewers. A well-structured paper in lucid and correct language that is easy to read and edit, and strictly follows the instruction to the authors from the editors finds favour from the readers and avoids outright rejection. Making right choice of journal is a decision critical to acceptance. Perseverance through the peer review process is the road to successful publication.
doi:10.7860/JCDR/2014/8107.4855
PMCID: PMC4225960  PMID: 25386508
Medical writing; Publication in biomedical journal; Preparation of manuscript
7.  DEVELOPING AN INTEGRATED ORGAN/SYSTEM CURRICULUM WITH COMMUNITY-ORIENTATION FOR A NEW MEDICAL COLLEGE IN JAZAN, SAUDI ARABIA 
Background:
Jazan province is located in the south-west of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. The province is offlicted with a wide spectrum of diseases and therefore have a special need for more health services. The Faculty of Medicine at Jazan has been following the traditional curriculum since its inception in 2001. The traditional curriculum has been criticized because of the students inability to relate what they learned in the basic sciences to medicine, thus stifling their motivation. It was felt that much of what was presented in preclinical courses was irrelevant to what the doctor really needed to know for his practice. The College therefore, decided to change to an integrated curriculum.
Design:
The study was conducted in 2004-2005 in the Faculty of Medicine, Jazan University. It began with a literature survey/search for relevant information and a series of meetings with experts from various institutions. A Curriculum Committee was formed and a set of guiding principles was prepared to help develop the new curriculum. A standard curriculum writing format was adopted for each module. It was decided that an independent evaluation of the new curriculum was to be done by experts in medical education before submission for official approval. There were several difficulties in the course of designing the curriculum, such as: provision of vertical integration, the lack of preparedness of faculty to teach an integrated curriculum, and difficulties inherent in setting a truly integrated examination.
Curriculum:
The program designed is for 6 years and in 3 phases; pre-med (year 1), organ/system (years 2 and 3), and clinical clerkship (years 4, 5, and 6). This is to be followed by a year of Internship. The pre-med phase aims at improving the students’ English language and prepare them for the succeeding phases. The organ/ system phase includes the integrated systems and the introductory modules. The curriculum includes elective modules, early clinical training, behavioral sciences, medical ethics, biostatistics, computer practice, and research methods. The curriculum provides active methods of instruction that include: small group discussion/ tutorials, problem-based learning (PBL), case-study/ clinical presentations, seminars, skills practice (clinical skill lab), practical, demonstration, and student independent learning. Methods of evaluating students include continuous and summative assessment.
Conclusion:
The new curriculum adopted by the Jazan Faculty of Medicine is an integrated, organ/ system based, community-oriented, with early clinical skills, elective modules, and innovative methods of instructions.
PMCID: PMC3410155  PMID: 23012158
Community oriented education; Curriculum development/evaluation; Interdisciplinary medical education; Problem-based learning
8.  Developing a Culture of Research in Vermont: Training and Research Support for Faculty and Students Through Outreach 
The Vermont Genetics Network (VGN) Outreach Core works with undergraduate college faculty throughout the state to implement and integrate cutting edge technology into their curricula and research programs. The opportunities afforded to undergraduates exposed to VGN Outreach activities allow them to gain important skills and encourage them to pursue research careers. The VGN Outreach Core, based at the University of Vermont (UVM) and Norwich University, has utilized the technologies and expertise from the three VGN Core Facilities at UVM – Microarray, Proteomics, and Bioinformatics – to support faculty and student research and to create educational modules.
Through these modules, our team has worked with over 20 faculty and 560 undergraduate students from eight baccalaureate partner institutions (BPIs). Seven of the eight colleges have integrated one or more modules into their curricula and all eight BPIs have reported other changes to curricula that were influenced by VGN Outreach interactions. Results from outreach surveys suggest that our outreach programs influence the educational and career goals of undergraduates. Students report an increased interest in studying science and pursuing a career in science or medicine after participating in VGN educational modules. Further results from the outreach surveys will be discussed.
Additionally, the VGN Outreach Core directly supports faculty and student research. The team works with faculty to enhance their research by bringing research into the classroom, integrating novel experiments into the modules, establishing relationships with the core facilities, offering technical support for project design, and providing extensive bioinformatics support. Core members also work with undergraduate students by serving as technical advisors and/or thesis committee members for independent senior projects and by providing research support. Through all the VGN Programs, a stronger culture of research is being developed at our partner institutes and around the state.
This work was sponsored by Grant Number P20 RR16462, from the IDeA Network of Biomedical Research Excellence (INBRE) Program of the National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS), a component of the National Institutes of Health (NIH).
PMCID: PMC3635394
9.  Dr. med. – obsolete? A cross sectional survey to investigate the perception and acceptance of the German medical degree 
Purpose: To obtain the German Medical Degree “Dr.med.” candidates are required to write a scientific thesis which is usually accomplished during Medical school education. This extra work load for the students amongst a lack of standardization and an M.D. awarded upon graduation in other European and Anglo-Saxon countries leads repeatedly to criticism of the German system. However, a systematic survey on the perception and acceptance of the German doctoral thesis among those affected is overdue.
Methods: Using an online questionnaire, medical students as well as licensed doctors were asked for the status of their medical degree, their motivation, personal benefit, time and effort, scientific output, its meaningfulness and alternatives concerning their thesis. Patients were asked, how important they value their general practitioner’s title “Dr. med.”. The resulting data were evaluated performing basic statistic analyses.
Results and Conclusions: The title “Dr. med.“ does not seem to be obsolete, but there is room for improvement. The scientific output is good and only a mere 15.1% of the candidates do not publish their results at all. Moreover, while at an early stage motivation, appreciation and recognition of personal benefits from the medical degree are considered as independent aspects, they merge to a general view at later stages. The current practice is considered most meaningful by the ones who have already finished their thesis. However, there are discrepancies between the expected and the actual length as well as the type of the thesis indicating that mentoring and educational advertising need improvement. As for the patients, their educational level seems to correlate with the significance attributed to the title “Dr. med.” held by their physician.
doi:10.3205/zma000922
PMCID: PMC4152994  PMID: 25228932
Dissertation; Dr. med.; medical degree; questionnaire
10.  Want to Improve Undergraduate Thesis Writing? Engage Students and Their Faculty Readers in Scientific Peer Review 
CBE Life Sciences Education  2011;10(2):209-215.
One of the best opportunities that undergraduates have to learn to write like a scientist is to write a thesis after participating in faculty-mentored undergraduate research. But developing writing skills doesn't happen automatically, and there are significant challenges associated with offering writing courses and with individualized mentoring. We present a hybrid model in which students have the structural support of a course plus the personalized benefits of working one-on-one with faculty. To optimize these one-on-one interactions, the course uses BioTAP, the Biology Thesis Assessment Protocol, to structure engagement in scientific peer review. By assessing theses written by students who took this course and comparable students who did not, we found that our approach not only improved student writing but also helped faculty members across the department—not only those teaching the course—to work more effectively and efficiently with student writers. Students who enrolled in this course were more likely to earn highest honors than students who only worked one-on-one with faculty. Further, students in the course scored significantly better on all higher-order writing and critical-thinking skills assessed.
doi:10.1187/cbe.10-10-0127
PMCID: PMC3105927  PMID: 21633069
11.  Challenges for Better thesis supervision 
Background: Conduction of thesis by the students is one of their major academic activities. Thesis quality and acquired experiences are highly dependent on the supervision. Our study is aimed at identifing the challenges in thesis supervision from both students and faculty members point of view.
Methods: This study was conducted using individual in-depth interviews and Focus Group Discussions (FGD). The participants were 43 students and faculty members selected by purposive sampling. It was carried out in Tehran University of Medical Sciences in 2012. Data analysis was done concurrently with data gathering using content analysis method.
Results: Our data analysis resulted in 162 codes, 17 subcategories and 4 major categories, "supervisory knowledge and skills", "atmosphere", "bylaws and regulations relating to supervision" and "monitoring and evaluation".
Conclusion: This study showed that more attention and planning in needed for modifying related rules and regulations, qualitative and quantitative improvement in mentorship training, research atmosphere improvement and effective monitoring and evaluation in supervisory area.
PMCID: PMC4154287  PMID: 25250273
Dissertation; Research; Supervision; Iran
12.  Reasons Why Post-Trial Access to Trial Drugs Should, or Need not be Ensured to Research Participants: A Systematic Review 
Public Health Ethics  2011;4(2):160-184.
Background: researchers and sponsors increasingly confront the issue of whether participants in a clinical trial should have post-trial access (PTA) to the trial drug. Legislation and guidelines are inconsistent, ambiguous or silent about many aspects of PTA. Recent research highlights the potential importance of systematic reviews (SRs) of reason-based literatures in informing decision-making in medicine, medical research and health policy. Purpose: to systematically review reasons why drug trial participants should, or need not be ensured PTA to the trial drug and the uses of such reasons. Data sources: databases in science/medicine, law and ethics, thesis databases, bibliographies, research ethics books and included publications’ notes/bibliographies. Publication selection: a publication was included if it included a reason as above. See article for detailed inclusion conditions. Data extraction and analysis: two reviewers extracted and analyzed data on publications and reasons. Results: of 2060 publications identified, 75 were included. These mentioned reasons based on morality, legality, interests/incentives, or practicality, comprising 36 broad (235 narrow) types of reason. None of the included publications, which included informal reviews and reports by official bodies, mentioned more than 22 broad (59 narrow) types. For many reasons, publications differed about the reason’s interpretation, implications and/or persuasiveness. Publications differed also regarding costs, feasibility and legality of PTA. Limitations: reason types could be applied differently. The quality of reasons was not measured. Conclusion: this review captured a greater variety of reasons and of their uses than any included publication. Decisions based on informal reviews or sub-sets of literature are likely to be biased. Research is needed on PTA ethics, costs, feasibility and legality and on assessing the quality of reason-based literature.
doi:10.1093/phe/phr013
PMCID: PMC3133737  PMID: 21754950
13.  The first Finnish malariologist, Johan Haartman, and the discussion about malaria in 18th century Turku, Finland 
Malaria Journal  2011;10:43.
After the Great Northern War in 1721, Sweden ceased to be an important military power. Instead, the kingdom concentrated on developing science. Swedish research got international fame with names as Carolus Linnaeus, Pehr Wargentin and Anders Celsius. Medical research remained limited and malaria was common especially in the coastal area and along the shores of the big lakes.
Already in the beginning of the 18th century Swedish physicians recommended Peruvian bark as medication and they also emphasized that bleeding or blood-letting a malaria patient was harmful. Although malaria was a common disease in the kingdom, the situation was worst in the SW-part of Finland which consisted of the town of Turku and a large archipelago in the Baltic. The farmers had no opportunity to get modern healthcare until Johan Haartman was appointed district physician in 1754. To improve the situation he wrote a medical handbook intended for both the farmers and for persons of rank.
Haartman's work was first published 1759 and he discussed all the different cures and medications. His aim was to recommend the best ones and warn against the harmful. His first choice was Peruvian bark, but he knew that the farmers could not afford it.
Haartman was appointed professor in medicine at the Royal Academy of Turku in 1765. The malaria situation in Finland grew worse in the 1770's and Haartman analysed the situation. He found the connection between the warm summers and the spring epidemics next year.
In a later thesis, Haartman analysed the late summer/early autumn malaria epidemics in the archipelago. Althouh Haartman did not know the connection between malaria and the vector, he gave astute advice and encouraged the farmers to build their cottages in windy places away from the shallow bays in which the Anopheles females hatched. Haartman died in 1788. After his death malaria research in Turku declined. His medical handbook would not be replaced until 1844.
doi:10.1186/1475-2875-10-43
PMCID: PMC3045996  PMID: 21324104
14.  How to Become a Competent Medical Writer? 
Medical writing involves writing scientific documents of different types which include regulatory and research-related documents, disease or drug-related educational and promotional literature, publication articles like journal manuscripts and abstracts, content for healthcare websites, health-related magazines or news articles. The scientific information in these documents needs to be presented to suit the level of understanding of the target audience, namely, patients or general public, physicians or the regulators. Medical writers require an understanding of the medical concepts and terminology, knowledge of relevant guidelines as regards the structure and contents of specific documents, and good writing skills. They also need to be familiar with searching medical literature, understanding and presenting research data, the document review process, and editing and publishing requirements. Many resources are now available for medical writers to get the required training in the science and art of medical writing, and upgrade their knowledge and skills on an ongoing basis. The demand for medical writing is growing steadily in pharmaceutical and healthcare communication market. Medical writers can work independently or be employed as full time professionals. Life sciences graduates can consider medical writing as a valuable career option.
PMCID: PMC3149406  PMID: 21829780
Medical writing; Regulatory; Publication; Technical guidelines; Skills; Resources
15.  Beyond the GRE: Using a Composite Score to Predict 
the Success of Puerto Rican Students in a Biomedical 
PhD Program 
CBE Life Sciences Education  2015;14(2):ar13.
A composite score (CS) using measurable indicators of research aptitude was developed. They compared the CS and the Graduate Record Examination General Test (GRE) of incoming students with students’ achievement of specific graduate-program milestones. Results showed that the composite score is a better predictor of successful outcomes for this population of biomedical PhD students than the GRE.
The use and validity of the Graduate Record Examination General Test (GRE) to predict the success of graduate school applicants is heavily debated, especially for its possible impact on the selection of underrepresented minorities into science, technology, engineering, and math fields. To better identify candidates who would succeed in our program with less reliance on the GRE and grade point average (GPA), we developed and tested a composite score (CS) that incorporates additional measurable predictors of success to evaluate incoming applicants. Uniform numerical values were assigned to GPA, GRE, research experience, advanced course work or degrees, presentations, and publications. We compared the CS of our students with their achievement of program goals and graduate school outcomes. The average CS was significantly higher in those students completing the graduate program versus dropouts (p < 0.002) and correlated with success in competing for fellowships and a shorter time to thesis defense. In contrast, these outcomes were not predicted by GPA, science GPA, or GRE. Recent implementation of an impromptu writing assessment during the interview suggests the CS can be improved further. We conclude that the CS provides a broader quantitative measure that better predicts success of students in our program and allows improved evaluation and selection of the most promising candidates.
doi:10.1187/cbe.14-11-0216
PMCID: PMC4477729  PMID: 25828404
16.  Avicenna and Cataracts: A New Analysis of Contributions to Diagnosis and Treatment from the Canon 
Background
Physicians in ancient Persia played an important role in the development of medicine in the medieval era. One of the most influential figures of this era was Abu Ali Sina or Ibn Sina, known as Avicenna in the western world. The author of more than 200 books on medicine and philosophy, Avicenna followed and further expanded on the tradition of western philosophy and medicine introduced by Aristotle, Hippocrates and Galen. Few researchers have looked into the different medical issues in his best known work, the Canon of Medicine, particularly with regard to ophthalmology. In this analysis, Avicenna’s views on and contributions to the diagnosis and treatment of cataracts in his Canon were elucidated.
Methods
We first reviewed an electronic copy of the Canon and then reviewed other important sources in traditional medicine including the Kamel-al-Sanaeh, Al-Havi (Continents) and Zakhireh-kharazmshahi, available in the Avicenna Special Traditional Medicine Library of Shiraz University of Medical Sciences. We also searched Medline, Embase, Scopus, Iranmedex and Science Iranian Database (SID) with these keywords: “traditional medicine,” “Avicenna,” “cataract”, “Canon”, “history”, “ophthalmology” and “eye disorders”.
Results
According to the Canon, nozul-al-maa or cataract is an obstructive disease in which external moisture accumulates between the aqueous humor and the corneal membrane and prevents images from entering the eye. Avicenna classified cataracts on the basis of size, density and color. According to size, he identified two types of cataracts including complete and partial obstruction. According to the Canon, surgical intervention was necessary only for certain indications. Avicenna believed that opacity in the initial stages of cataract could be diminished by medicines and foods, and described several medicines for cataracts. He believed that surgery should be postponed until the liquid accumulation stopped, and the cataract reached its mature state. After surgery, according to Avicenna, the patient should avoid headache-inducing situations because headaches could lead to edema of the layers of the eye. He further emphasized that the patient’s psychological status played an important role in the success of surgery.
Conclusion
An important aspect of Avicenna’s contribution to the medical management of cataracts was that he believed they could be cured by medication and nutrition in their early stages without the need for surgery. He also considered the patient’s mental status as an important factor contributing to the postoperative prognosis. Our review of Avicenna’s writings on eye disorders in the Canon of Medicine suggests that he had a rigorous approach to the diagnosis and management of patients suffering from eye disorders.
PMCID: PMC3398632  PMID: 22829984
Avicenna; Cataract; Traditional medicine; Canon; History; Ophthalmology; Eye disorders
17.  WriteSim TCExam - An open source text simulation environment for training novice researchers in scientific writing 
BMC Medical Education  2010;10:39.
Background
The ability to write clearly and effectively is of central importance to the scientific enterprise. Encouraged by the success of simulation environments in other biomedical sciences, we developed WriteSim TCExam, an open-source, Web-based, textual simulation environment for teaching effective writing techniques to novice researchers. We shortlisted and modified an existing open source application - TCExam to serve as a textual simulation environment. After testing usability internally in our team, we conducted formal field usability studies with novice researchers. These were followed by formal surveys with researchers fitting the role of administrators and users (novice researchers)
Results
The development process was guided by feedback from usability tests within our research team. Online surveys and formal studies, involving members of the Research on Research group and selected novice researchers, show that the application is user-friendly. Additionally it has been used to train 25 novice researchers in scientific writing to date and has generated encouraging results.
Conclusion
WriteSim TCExam is the first Web-based, open-source textual simulation environment designed to complement traditional scientific writing instruction. While initial reviews by students and educators have been positive, a formal study is needed to measure its benefits in comparison to standard instructional methods.
doi:10.1186/1472-6920-10-39
PMCID: PMC2893514  PMID: 20509946
18.  Barriers and challenges in researches by Iranian students of medical universities 
Background:
Health sciences research (HSR) is an essential part of improving health care which plays a critical role in the field of medicine and clinical practice. The aim of the current study was to assess barriers to the research by students of medical sciences as well as to find out effective strategies for management of student researches in Iranian universities.
Materials and Methods:
This study utilized a hybrid design with quantitative and qualitative analytical approaches conducted on 627 students in six schools of medical sciences in two universities in Central Province in Iran from April to December, 2012. Questionnaires were distributed among researcher and non-researcher students to find barriers to the research. These barriers were approved and validated by similar studies and strategies using the Delphi technique on 36 students.
Results:
The most important barriers among researcher students were institutional barriers (3.3 ± 1.3), but in non-researcher students they were individual barriers (3.6 ± 1.7). The majority of barriers to involvement in the research among researcher students appeared to be time, lack of access to electronic resources and prolongation of the process of buying equipment. In addition, the greatest barriers among non-researcher students included the lack of time, scientific writing skills, and access to trained assistants.
Conclusion:
The results showed the issue of attitudes towards compulsory research as a component of critical scholarship in the curriculum of medical courses. Moreover, employment of the research experts can be helpful for research training in schools of medical sciences.
doi:10.4103/2229-3485.154009
PMCID: PMC4394588  PMID: 25878955
Barriers; challenges; medical sciences students; research; students of medical sciences; universities
19.  Survey of Keyword Adjustment of Published Articles Medical Subject Headings in Journal of Mazandaran University of Medical Sciences (2009-2010) 
Acta Informatica Medica  2013;21(2):98-102.
CONFLICT OF INTEREST: NONE DECLARED
Introduction
Keywords are the most important tools for Information retrieval. They are usually used for retrieval of articles based on contents of information reserved from printed and electronic resources. Retrieval of appropriate keywords from Medical Subject Headings (MeSH) can impact with exact, correctness and short time on information retrieval. Regarding the above mentioned matters, this study was done to compare the Latin keywords was in the articles published in the Journal of Mazandaran University of Medical Sciences.
Method
This is a descriptive study. The data were extracted from the key words of Englsih abstracts of articles published in the years 2009–2010 in the Journal of Mazandaran University of Medical Sciences by census method. Checklist of data collection is designed, based on research objectives and literature review which has face validity. Compliance rate in this study was to determine if the keywords cited in this article as a full subject of the main subject headings in a MeSH (Bold and the selected word) is a perfect adjustment. If keywords were cited in the article but the main heading is not discussed in the following main topics to be discussed with reference to See and See related it has considered has partial adjustment.
Results
Out of 148 articles published in 12 issues in proposed time of studying, 72 research papers were analyzed. The average numbers of authors in each article were 4 ± 1. Results showed that most of specialty papers 42 (58. 4%), belonging to the (Department of Clinical Sciences) School of Medicine, 11 (15.3%) Basic Science, 6(8.4%) Pharmacy, Nursing and Midwifery 5(6.9%), 4(5.5%) Health, paramedical Sciences 3(4.2%), and non medical article 1(1.3%) school of medicine. In general, results showed that 80 (30%) of key words have been used to complete the adjustment. Also, only 1(1.4%) had complete adjustment with all the MeSH key words and in 8 articles(11.4%) key words of had no adjustment with MeSH.
Conclusion
The results showed that only 17 articles could be retrieved if the search words are selected from the MeSH. In this case the expected 100% of published articles titles at this university the validity of exchange of research projects which is something noteworthy. The lack of correlation between number of authors and matching of Keywords with MeSH, may mean all of the papers’ authors did not take part in writing and it is understanding that only one author wrote the paper.
doi:10.5455/aim.2013.21.98-102
PMCID: PMC3766532  PMID: 24058249
Abstracting and Indexing as Topic; Information Storage and Retrieval; MEDLINE; Medical Subject Headings; PubMed; Information Services; Iran
20.  Library Collaboration with Medical Humanities in an American Medical College in Qatar 
Oman Medical Journal  2013;28(6):382-387.
The medical humanities, a cross-disciplinary field of practice and research that includes medicine, literature, art, history, philosophy, and sociology, is being increasingly incorporated into medical school curricula internationally. Medical humanities courses in Writing, Literature, Medical Ethics and History can teach physicians-in-training communication skills, doctor-patient relations, and medical ethics, as well as empathy and cross-cultural understanding. In addition to providing educational breadth and variety, the medical humanities can also play a practical role in teaching critical/analytical skills. These skills are utilized in differential diagnosis and problem-based learning, as well as in developing written and oral communications. Communication skills are a required medical competency for passing medical board exams in the U.S., Canada, the UK and elsewhere. The medical library is an integral part of medical humanities training efforts. This contribution provides a case study of the Distributed eLibrary at the Weill Cornell Medical College in Qatar in Doha, and its collaboration with the Writing Program in the Premedical Program to teach and develop the medical humanities. Programs and initiatives of the DeLib library include: developing an information literacy course, course guides for specific courses, the 100 Classic Books Project, collection development of ‘doctors’ stories’ related to the practice of medicine (including medically-oriented movies and TV programs), and workshops to teach the analytical and critical thinking skills that form the basis of humanistic approaches to knowledge. This paper outlines a ‘best practices’ approach to developing the medical humanities in collaboration among the medical library, faculty and administrative stakeholders.
doi:10.5001/omj.2013.113
PMCID: PMC3815856  PMID: 24223240
Medical Humanities; Medical Libraries–Qatar; Medical Education-Humanities
21.  A manifesto for clinical pharmacology from principles to practice 
1 This is a manifesto for UK clinical pharmacology.
2 A clinical pharmacologist is a medically qualified practitioner who teaches, does research, frames policy, and gives information and advice about the actions and proper uses of medicines in humans and implements that knowledge in clinical practice. Those without medical qualifications who practise some aspect of clinical pharmacology could be described as, say, ‘applied pharmacologists’.
3 Clinical pharmacology is operationally defined as a translational discipline in terms of the basic tools of human pharmacology (e.g. receptor pharmacology) and applied pharmacology (e.g. pharmacokinetics) and how they are used in drug discovery and development and in solving practical therapeutic problems in individuals and populations.
4 Clinical pharmacologists are employed by universities, health-care services, private organizations (such as drug companies), and regulatory agencies. They are
• mentors and teachers, teaching laboratory science, clinical science, and all aspects of practical drug therapy as underpinned by the science of pharmacology; they write and edit didactic and reference texts;
• researchers, covering research described by the operational definition;
• clinicians, practising general medicine, clinical toxicology, other medical specialties, and general practice;
• policy makers, framing local, national, and international medicines policy, including formularies, licensing of medicines and prescribing policies.
5 The future of clinical pharmacology depends on the expansion and maintenance of a central core of practitioners (employed by universities or health-care services), training clinical pharmacologists to practise in universities, health-care services, private organizations, and regulatory agencies, and training other clinicians in the principles and practice of clinical pharmacology.
doi:10.1111/j.1365-2125.2010.03699.x
PMCID: PMC2909801  PMID: 20642541
clinical pharmacology; manifesto; definitions
22.  Masters theses from a university medical college: Publication in indexed scientific journals 
Indian Journal of Ophthalmology  2010;58(2):101-104.
Background:
The thesis is an integral part of postgraduate medical education in India. Publication of the results of the thesis in an indexed journal is desirable; it validates the research and makes results available to researchers worldwide.
Aims:
To determine publication rates in indexed journals, of works derived from theses, and factors affecting publication.
Settings and Design:
Postgraduate theses submitted over a five-year period (2001-05) in a university medical college were analyzed in a retrospective, observational study.
Materials and Methods:
Data retrieved included name and gender of postgraduate student, names, department and hierarchy of supervisor and co-supervisor(s), year submitted, study design, sample size, and statistically significant difference between groups. To determine subsequent publication in an indexed journal, Medline search was performed up to December 2007.
Statistical Analysis:
Chi square test was used to compare publication rates based on categorical variables; Student's t-test was used to compare differences based on continuous variables.
Results:
One hundred and sixty theses were retrieved, forty-eight (30%) were published. Papers were published 8-74 (33.7 ± 17.33) months after thesis submission; the postgraduate student was first author in papers from 26 (54%) of the published theses. Gender of the student, department of origin, year of thesis submission, hierarchy of the supervisor, number and department of co-supervisors, and thesis characteristics did not influence publication rates.
Conclusions:
Rate of publication in indexed journals, of papers derived from postgraduate theses is 30%. In this study we were unable to identify factors that promote publication.
doi:10.4103/0301-4738.60070
PMCID: PMC2854438  PMID: 20195030
Indexed journal; publication rate; postgraduate medical thesis
23.  Writing to Learn: An Evaluation of the Calibrated Peer Review™ Program in Two Neuroscience Courses 
Although the majority of scientific information is communicated in written form, and peer review is the primary process by which it is validated, undergraduate students may receive little direct training in science writing or peer review. Here, I describe the use of Calibrated Peer Review™ (CPR), a free, web-based writing and peer review program designed to alleviate instructor workload, in two undergraduate neuroscience courses: an upper- level sensation and perception course (41 students, three assignments) and an introductory neuroscience course (50 students; two assignments). Using CPR online, students reviewed primary research articles on assigned ‘hot’ topics, wrote short essays in response to specific guiding questions, reviewed standard ‘calibration’ essays, and provided anonymous quantitative and qualitative peer reviews. An automated grading system calculated the final scores based on a student’s essay quality (as determined by the average of three peer reviews) and his or her accuracy in evaluating 1) three standard calibration essays, 2) three anonymous peer reviews, and 3) his or her self review. Thus, students were assessed not only on their skill at constructing logical, evidence-based arguments, but also on their ability to accurately evaluate their peers’ writing. According to both student self-reports and instructor observation, students’ writing and peer review skills improved over the course of the semester. Student evaluation of the CPR program was mixed; while some students felt like the peer review process enhanced their understanding of the material and improved their writing, others felt as though the process was biased and required too much time. Despite student critiques of the program, I still recommend the CPR program as an excellent and free resource for incorporating more writing, peer review, and critical thinking into an undergraduate neuroscience curriculum.
PMCID: PMC3592621  PMID: 23493247
peer review, writing to learn; web-based learning; learning technology; Calibrated Peer Review
24.  Clinical realism: a new literary genre and a potential tool for encouraging empathy in medical students 
BMC Medical Education  2015;15:112.
Background
Empathy has been re-discovered as a desirable quality in doctors. A number of approaches using the medical humanities have been advocated to teach empathy to medical students. This paper describes a new approach using the medium of creative writing and a new narrative genre: clinical realism.
Methods
Third year students were offered a four week long Student Selected Component (SSC) in Narrative Medicine and Creative Writing. The creative writing element included researching and creating a character with a life-changing physical disorder without making the disorder the focus of the writing. The age, gender, social circumstances and physical disorder of a character were randomly allocated to each student. The students wrote repeated assignments in the first person, writing as their character and including details of living with the disorder in all of their narratives. This article is based on the work produced by the 2013 cohort of students taking the course, and on their reflections on the process of creating their characters. Their output was analysed thematically using a constructivist approach to meaning making.
Results
This preliminary analysis suggests that the students created convincing and detailed narratives which included rich information about living with a chronic disorder. Although the writing assignments were generic, they introduced a number of themes relating to illness, including stigma, personal identity and narrative wreckage. Some students reported that they found it difficult to relate to “their” character initially, but their empathy for the character increased as the SSC progressed.
Conclusion
Clinical realism combined with repeated writing exercises about the same character is a potential tool for helping to develop empathy in medical students and merits further investigation.
doi:10.1186/s12909-015-0372-8
PMCID: PMC4490761  PMID: 26138712
Medical education; Medical humanities; Creative writing; Empathy; Affinity; Clinical realism
25.  Publication Rates of Public Health Theses in International and National Peer-Review Journals in Turkey 
Background:
Thesis is an important part of specialisation and doctorate education and requires intense work. The aim of this study was to investigate the publication rates of Turkish Public Health Doctorate Theses (PHDT) and Public Health Specialization (PHST) theses in international and Turkish national peer-review journals and to analyze the distribution of research areas.
Methods:
List of all theses upto 30 September 2009 were retrieved from theses database of the Council of Higher Education of the Republic of Turkey. The publication rates of these theses were found by searching PubMed, Science Citation Index-Expanded, Turkish Academic Network and Information Center (ULAKBIM) Turkish Medical Database, and Turkish Medline databases for the names of thesis author and mentor. The theses which were published in journals indexed either in PubMed or SCI-E were considered as international publications.
Results:
Our search yielded a total of 538 theses (243 PHDT, 295 PHST). It was found that the overall publication rate in Turkish national journals was 18%. The overall publication rate in international journals was 11.9%. Overall the most common research area was occupational health.
Conclusion:
Publication rates of Turkish PHDT and PHST are low. A better understanding of factors affecting this publication rate is important for public health issues where national data is vital for better intervention programs and develop better public health policies.
PMCID: PMC3494212  PMID: 23193503
Bibliometrics; Mentor; Publishing; Research; Scientometrics; Turkey

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