By Gabriella Mansell
A new academic research journal has been launched by a number of universities in South West England and Wales, with the content being provided entirely by students.
The ‘INSPIRE Student Health Sciences Research Journal’, with which Cardiff University students have been heavily involved, specialises in medical and dental research, and is run by the nationwide INSPIRE scheme.
Dr Anna Hurley, School Manager of Cardiff University’s School of Medicine, said:
“Inspire is a Wellcome Trust funded and Academy of Medical Sciences administered scheme to demonstrate to medical, dental and vet science students the benefits and potential of a career in science. Regional collaborations have developed and led by Prof Colin Dayan, Cardiff University medical students have embraced the opportunity to participate in this scheme.
“Students from the medical and dental schools of Bristol, Cardiff, Exeter and Plymouth have joined forces to launch a new journal that showcases original research undertaken in world-class laboratories and clinics by fellow students.
“The ‘INSPIRE Student Health Sciences Research Journal’ is produced by a team of student editors from the four universities. Cardiff Students have contributed greatly to this first edition. We will continue to promote these opportunities to students so that they can get the very best out of their time within the School of Medicine and aim to produce the next generation of clinical academics.”
The Wellcome Trust is a funding body which, according to their website, helps “14,000 people in more than 70 countries, [aiming] to spend £5 billion helping thousands of curious, passionate people all over the world explore ideas in science, population health, medical innovation, the humanities and social sciences and public engagement”.
The national INSPIRE scheme aims to encourage student doctors, dentists and vets to consider a career in research, and encourages publication of their work. According to their website: since 2013 when the scheme began, “the southwest partnership has supported more than 70 vacation studentships as well as prize awards”.
This support combined with local matched funding, has enabled medical students to carry out projects under the supervision of senior scientists and clinicians.
In 2015 representatives of the four Universities invited students to make applications for senior editors and student peer reviewers and after that the idea of the journal being student specific was presented. Resulting in a completely student run journal, with all articles and editing done by students.
Helena Jones, a fourth year medical student at Cardiff, who wrote for the first issue said: “Writing for INSPIRE has given me a fantastic opportunity to show students what kind of research they can get involved in, and what they can achieve from undertaking an intercalated degree.
“Working with INSPIRE has certainly encouraged me to think about further research and publishing in the future”.
Commenting on the journal, 3rd Year Cardiff Medical Student Alice Cavannah said “I think Inspire provides a unique opportunity for younger medical students to get involved in research early on, something which isn’t easily accessible at our stage”.
She then added: “The fact that the journal is edited and selected by other students, makes the content more relevant and tailored to younger years, making the prospect of reading a scientific paper less daunting”.
Jo Winder, another 3rd Year Medic also commented on the positives of the journal stating:
“Research and getting articles published is a very daunting prospect as a medical student.
“We are told that to get a choice of the jobs we want, we have to publish research…but we aren’t given much guidance as to how to go about it. [getting published] straight into renowned journals is near impossible so having a stepping stone is a really great idea to introduce to medical students”.
Jo went on to add:
“It’s a good way to inspire people as we get to see what our peers are doing, a lot of the best research projects are collaborations between people with varying ideas and [INSPIRE] provides a great platform to allow that process”.
The first issue is available online and includes papers about the stress and pressure put on neurosurgeons, the attempt to reduce maternal mortality in India and finally the unusual concept of tooth donation.
If you’re looking to get involved then add them on Facebook @InspireStudentHealthSciencesResearchJournal or email them at firstname.lastname@example.org.