|Year : 2015 | Volume
| Issue : 11 | Page : 813-814
It's never too early to start!
Editor, Indian Journal of Ophthalmology, Chairman, Managing Director, Aditya Jyot Eye Hospital Pvt. Ltd., Wadala (W), Mumbai, Maharashtra, India
|Date of Web Publication||16-Dec-2015|
Editor, Indian Journal of Ophthalmology, Chairman, Managing Director, Aditya Jyot Eye Hospital Pvt. Ltd., Wadala (W), Mumbai, Maharashtra
Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None
|How to cite this article:|
Natarajan S. It's never too early to start!. Indian J Ophthalmol 2015;63:813-4
Research is an extremely important part of medical training. Residents involved in presenting papers at meetings and preparing manuscripts are stimulated to review the literature, develop projects, scrutinize data, and contextualize results.  To support this process, the older generation must provide them with the right mentorship, appropriate encouragement, and recognition. 
I believe that inculcating this streak in residents is vital and it involves concerted efforts from both sides: The teachers and the students. The first step is to encourage residents to undertake projects during their residency. These projects could be anything: From compiling data to form a retrospective series of cases to presenting an unusual case in the clinic; from documenting an adverse drug reaction to comparing outcomes of different treatment strategies; from quality-of-life questionnaires to blinded studies.
The second step would be where the teaching faculty plays an active role in helping residents refine their work: Give constructive inputs, direction, and set deadlines. Often times, the enormity of a project itself can be overwhelming, especially for a novice. The teaching faculty, here, should set deadlines, periodically review the project, oversee completion, and finally polish the abstract so it may be submitted to a conference/meeting for presentation. The scale of the meeting, in my opinion, does not matter as long as the material gets presented. The experience of presenting original research to one's own peers should start early in ones' career and can be a big boost to the trainee's confidence and also spur them on to take on larger challenges.
The third step is to ensure that regardless of the scale of the project - a case report or a randomized control trial - every undertaking must have an accompanying manuscript. The natural evolution of any credible scientific hypothesis finally culminates in its publication. That is the only way other researchers get to know about your work and can build on it further. Enriching literature and carrying science forward is the ultimate goal for any researcher. Furthermore, I am sure, the joy of seeing one's name as an author in print or online for the first time is enough to stimulate them in the right path.
Submitting a manuscript online to a journal can be a daunting task. Each journal has its own format and its own set of requirements. Looking up references, citing the relevant articles, and structuring a manuscript are things that one has to learn over time, but the earlier, the better.
Most residency programs require residents to submit a dissertation toward partial fulfillment of the requirements for their degrees. More often than not, this thesis is undertaken mechanically just to ensure that it gets done; without actually verifying the quality of its scientific content, the statistical tests involved, and validity of the results. The mentors in residency programs should take the lead in ensuring that all these are taken beyond the "library archiving stage" and are written up as manuscripts and published in indexed journals. If every resident in ophthalmology in India were to complete their thesis diligently and write it up as a structured manuscript, it would translate to roughly 950 high-quality research papers each year! 
Academic directors and department heads should take note that motivating residents toward research, modifying the residency program, and providing incentives can go a long way in enhancing the scholastic productivity of trainees. , Not to mention that having published in residency, naturally boosts a resident's chance at entering the fellowship program of his/her choice. Nudging today's ophthalmologists to seek out and chart out their own course in presenting and publishing is extremely important. It is never too early to start; after all, the residents of today will be the reviewers and editors of tomorrow!
As part of our continuing endeavor to encourage budding ophthalmologists to research and publish, our next research methodology workshop will be held on January 8 th and 9 th 2016, in Mumbai. Kindly visit www.ijo.in for further details.
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Chang CW, Mills JC. Effects of a reward system on resident research productivity. JAMA Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg 2013;139:1285-90.
Ananthakrishnan N. Distribution of postgraduate medical seats in different disciplines: Is there rationality in decision-making? Natl Med J India 2011;24:365-7.
Papasavas P, Filippa D, Reilly P, Chandawarkar R, Kirton O. Effect of a mandatory research requirement on categorical resident academic productivity in a university-based general surgery residency. J Surg Educ 2013;70:715-9.
Kichler K, Kozol R, Buicko J, Lesnikoski B, Tamariz L, Palacio A. A structured step-by-step program to increase scholarly activity. J Surg Educ 2014;71:e19-21.