Students launch new research journal

INSPIRE medical student James Russell, who has also played a role in the new student research journal

Students from the medical and dental schools of Plymouth, Cardiff, Exeter and Bristol 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. It is a key part of a collaborative project funded through the national INSPIRE scheme funded by the Wellcome Trust and administered by the Academy of Medical Sciences.

The INSPIRE scheme aims to inspire student doctors, dentists and vets to consider a career in research, and encourages publication of their work. Since the scheme began in 2013 the southwest INSPIRE partnership has supported more than 70 vacation studentships as well as prize awards, which together with local matched funding has enabled students to undertake research projects under the supervision of senior scientists and clinicians.

Following a competition in 2015, a team of seven senior editors came together to set up the journal from scratch in order to provide a platform for publication of student project results, as well as to have direct experience of academic peer review.

“This journal showcases the high standard of research undertaken by medical, dental and veterinary students in the South West. It is delightful to see that everyone’s hard work has paid off and I hope that this journal will encourage more undergraduates to get involved in research,” said senior editor James Russell, from Plymouth University Peninsula Schools of Medicine and Dentistry.
“It has been a steep and challenging learning curve in getting this journal to publication, but I think the finished product is a remarkable taste of the huge variety of high quality student research going on in the South West. A huge amount of work by countless people has gone into the journal and I feel privileged to be a part of it, and to share it with our readers,” said Senior Editor Amy Hough, from the University of Exeter Medical School.
"The journal is a fantastic platform for students to get a taster of what producing an article for a journal is really like. In the same way, it has been an amazing learning experience for me as an editor, in terms of the team work, patience and communication that is required to create a successful journal," said Senior Editor Jenny McKeon, from Cardiff University Medical School.
David Parkinson, Professor of Neuroscience, Plymouth University Peninsula Schools of Medicine and Dentistry, said: 

“The INSPIRE journal has involved students from four different universities working together to review, edit and publish a completely new student-focused scientific journal. Their hard work has led to the publication of the journal, which showcases the excellent research carried out by their fellow students.” 

Dr Vehid Salih, Associate Professor of Oral & Dental Health Research at Plymouth University Peninsula Schools of Medicine and Dentistry, said: 

“The INSPIRE scheme has not only enabled medical and dental students to access and become part of leading research groups, but has also led to new networking opportunities for students interested in pursuing an academic career as well as a combined editorial effort to produce the inaugural INSPIRE journal. The journal highlights some very interesting themes and topics of interest to a wide audience.”

Colin Dayan, Professor of Clinical Diabetes and Metabolism, Cardiff University, said:
“We believe the INSPIRE journal is the first of its kind to bring together medical, dental and veterinary students from four different Universities in such an ambitious research writing project. It started from an idea from students in 2014 and had taken two years to realise, but the final product is an outstanding showcase of science writing and primary research from students at different stages in their careers.” 
The first issue of the journal is available online, and includes reports about stress in neurosurgeons, efforts to tackle high numbers of maternal deaths in India, tooth donation and the future of dentistry, the development of new diagnostic tests for Addison’s disease in dogs, and development of a laboratory cell culture system for studying the kidney disease cystinuria. There are also interviews with leading academic researchers about their chosen careers and conference reports on topics including human fertility. The journal logo was designed by Year 3 dental student, Liz Eilertsen, from Plymouth University Peninsula Schools of Medicine and Dentistry.

The student-led journal is one of many local and regional activities involving partnership between the universities of Bristol, Cardiff, Exeter and Plymouth. Besides vacation studentships, activities include an intercalators’ conference each October at which students can hear about opportunities to study for a science degree, and hear about the experiences of previous intercalating students.