WHY SHOULD STUDENTS PUBLISH?
The idea for this editorial came from the academic writing courses that we organized for students. The most difficult aspect encountered in my experience is to convince students that publishing is an opportunity for them, if not a necessity. Thus, only a few of the course participants will actually find enough motivation to write a scientific article. So, I asked myself: Why should students publish?
A few years ago, I held a presentation in which I argued the paradigm shift about the involvement of students in research activities. Starting from the question Can students be involved in research?, I concluded that Students must do research!
Naturally, research activity calls the need for publishing. Aside from the obvious “publishing makes your work known to your peers”, I believe that the act itself carries some important lessons.
- To learn how to write. It is known that writing is learned by writing, so it is not enough to attend a course, or read a guide in order to be able to get to publish in high impact journals. At the same time, academic writing is a mandatory skill for all those who want to have an academic or research activity.
- To develop critical skills. Academic writing involves studying the literature, thus exercising skills such as critical thinking, synthesizing power or academic expression.
- To learn how to read an article. Academic writing requires extensive and rigorous documentation, thus training the ability to read and understand articles. First of all, a good writer must be a good reader.
- To benefit of available help and mentorship. It is much easier for a student than for a graduate to find a mentor willing to support and help him in the article writing process.
- To improve your resume. The writing activity is fully quantifiable, regardless of the affiliation that the author had. Thus, the articles published during university studies will be as important in the resume as those published after graduation. These skills, like many others in life, may open new and unexpected paths, including higher chances of getting a grant or securing a position in the academia.
- Why not? Now, seriously, is there any disadvantage in early publishing? (I couldn't find one)
If it is relatively clear that students need to publish, I would like to answer another question: How to start? In my opinion, the best way to start is to write a narrative review article. Through this first experience, the student will learn to define a research hypothesis, to perform an advanced research, to synthesize information and then to write it in an academic matter. All these skills will serve as a core framework for any further writing or research activity. In addition, this form of research requires only available, free and easily accessible resources.
Finally, it is obvious that students must acquire, besides pure medical knowledge, complementary skills that will be integrated in their medical and academic activity, scientific writing being one of the basic skills needed by a doctor.
So, don’t be afraid to publish early, more and better!