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Frequently Asked Questions

How much time should I schedule for participation in this program?

NEMA Scholars is individualized to meet the needs of busy students and professionals, but completing this program requires a substantial time commitment. Participants may take up to a year to complete the program, but if more time is dedicated up front, it is possible to complete the program in a matter of months. The time commitment depends in part on the subject chosen, the extent of research required, and how quickly an individual can write! We encourage Scholars to speak frankly with Mentors about time management issues.

What kind of articles should I consider?

NEMA Scholars encourages original research, such as conducting a survey. These papers make a solid contribution to ongoing science but may take a few extra weeks to conduct and run a survey. However, Scholars may also write narrative reviews, systematic reviews, case reports, or editorials. The choice of type of article depends in large measure on the Scholar’s research interest and the Mentor is a good  resource in identifying the best type of article and target journal.

Do authors of medical journals get paid?

No. And some journals may charge an article processing fee to help defray publication expenses. We will help Scholars navigate these issues, as many journals do not charge such fees. But journals definitely do not pay their authors.

Can I stay in the program beyond my first article?

Such decisions are made on a case-by-case basis, but it may be possible.


How do I meet with my Mentor?

Mentors like Scholars live all over the world so it is likely your contact will be virtual. Most Mentors and Scholars use Zoom meetings, email correspondence, and texting, but that is a matter of individual preference. We recommend that Mentors and Scholars make contact at least every other week, but weekly may be more helpful during certain particularly active periods.

What if my Mentor does not contact me regularly?

Please make sure both Mentor and Scholar feel comfortable reaching out to each other. In the event that contact is lost or there is no response, please contact //email/// and we will get things moving again.

What is the most challenging thing about writing a paper?

That depends on the author! If you do a survey, it may be challenging to get sufficient responses. If you write a review, it may be challenging to conduct the library research. For others, it is writing. But one thing for sure—Scholars will face challenges! Mentors will help you manage them. It is do-able, even if it is not always easy.

What subject matter should I choose?

Your Mentor will be happy to provide you with a list of suggested topics, and you can also suggest your own topics if you have special areas of interest. You will likely move from a general topic (“the role of cannabinoids in treating pain” or “understanding vaccine hesitancy” or “increased suicidal ideation in young people”) to a more specific one with the aid of your Mentor. For example, cannabinoids and pain may be too broad and could be narrowed to the role of cannabinoids in treating migraine headache… that would be a good topic for a review if there is sufficient literature. On the other hand, you could also set up an online survey among chronic pain patient support groups and survey people about whether or not they used cannabinoids for pain. While case studies generally require you to have a case, it may be that a Mentor has a case of a pain patient being treated with cannabinoids and the results. You could also do a systematic analysis of clinical trials using cannabinoids for a certain type of pain and analyze the results of several clinical trials. Thus, when picking your topic, start with broad general ideas and then gradually modify the idea to one narrow enough in scope to make a good paper.

Will I go through peer review?


What happens in peer review?

In this process, the journal assigns subject matter experts to look at your paper and try to find flaws in it. When conducted properly, peer review can be challenging but it will make your paper stronger. Peer reviewers may question your conclusions, challenge your methods, or ask you to include specific points or references. Your Mentor or someone at the NEMA Scholars program will assist you in going through peer review and formulating your responses.

What should I know about medical writing?

Medical writing is fairly formulaic. Most journals have an outline or headings that you are required to use. When writing the text, keep it as objective as possible. Do not editorialize. For instance, don’t say, “this large study of 12,000 patients showed excellent results.” Better would be: “this study of 12,000 patients showed XX was safe and effective at relieving constipation in 87% of patients.” Writing should be neutral—allow the reader to interpret the results (the reader can determine if a 12,000-patient study is large or not and if 87% is “excellent.” Always be accurate—if you ever have to decide between writing something elegantly and writing it accurately, pick accuracy.

How do I do references?

NEMA Research Group uses EndNotes software, which you have to purchase, but there are other reference management software applications available online for low or no cost. These programs allow you to import references, put them into the document, rearrange them, and reformat them easily. While you do not have to have this kind of software, it can facilitate writing the paper.

Where do I get the articles?

You almost have to have access to a university library. The medical literature can be searched through a number of databases, of which PubMed is the most comprehensive. It’s free. Other databases include Scopus, Web of Science, and Embase. Many full-text articles can be downloaded free, but sometimes you will hit a paywall. That’s where a university library may be helpful.

What about Google Scholar?

That is a great resource, but it tends to pull up everything… including newspaper articles, patents, and other documents. We recommend using Google Scholar but to recognize that you may get thousands of results for your searches.

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