By: Arvin Wali
A ‘manifesto’ is a published declaration of someone’s intentions, motives, or views. Although often associated with radical politics and revolution, manifestos can be written to capture the spirit of any group or movement.
Why does research need a manifesto?
We’ve worked with hundreds of pre-meds, and many struggle to write about their research in meaningful ways. What’s the problem? Usually, it’s their approach to their work in the lab. Too often, they’ve taken on research as a way to check off one of their pre-med boxes, rather than a means for exploration, growth, and discovery.
Our manifesto is designed to help you avoid these obligatory feelings by inspiring a deeper commitment to the research. Hopefully, you read our manifesto early on in your research career. But regardless of how far along you are in the process, our principles will help you maintain the right mindset in the lab.
Karl Marx called the subpoints of his manifesto ‘planks,’ but for our purposes, ‘theses’ seemed more appropriate.
Thesis #1 - Get Involved in Research Early and Often in Your Pre-Med Career
You will not make the same mistake as most pre-meds. You will look for research opportunities as early as possible, because you’ll recognize how long it can take to secure a spot. You will remain open-minded towards different projects, even if they seem outside of your scope. You will absorb new environments and information like a sponge. You will not shy away from challenges, but instead view them as chances to push your limits and hone your skills.
By getting involved early and often, you will not be forced to settle. You will not be stuck in an unfulfilling role or project; instead, you’ll have the time, space, and network needed to find something that better suits your evolving interests.
Thesis #2 - Research Should be Fun
Dare you say that research should be fun? Yes! You will embrace your opportunity to innovate and push science forward. You will find pleasure in the arduous toiling of the lab, remembering to value the process over the results. You will take inspiration from the greats like Salk, whose hard-working team made discoveries like the Polio vaccine. You will view each setback or failed experiment as progress, rather than a reason to surrender and move on. You will revel in the moments of breakthrough, recognizing the joys of delayed gratification. You will elevate your gaze and see new heights for your potential.
You will understand yourself as a burgeoning scientist, and begin cultivating that quality. You will have fun engaging with puzzles and solving mysteries, even when they seem daunting or uncrackable. This mindset will transfer to life outside the lab, as you draw connections between your research, classes, and patient care experiences. You will take great honor and enjoyment in your preparation to become a future physician-scientist.
Thesis #3 - Discover Your Research Interests
Research is a field that tackles problems and ideas much larger than yourself, but that will not stop you from reflecting about your specific role within it. You will ask yourself, “what am I interested in?” “What impact do I want to make?” “What questions do I want to help answer?” You will recognize that anything is fair game, and that science is a vast web of interconnected data. You will dive into topics like global warming’s correlation with heat stroke, or how texting while driving affects the rate of car accidents. You will follow what intrigues you most, articulate novel hypotheses, and propose ways of testing them through experimentation.
You will let passion dictate your journey. This attitude will lead you to projects that fuel your motivation, offer newfound freedom, and open doors for publication. You will accumulate valuable experience as a scientist and thinker, which will translate into powerful application essays and interview answers. By focusing on what drives you most, you will find your ideal way of contributing to the growing body of scientific knowledge.
Throughout your time in the lab, we hope you return to our manifesto for inspiration. Its purpose is to recalibrate your perspective and reinvigorate your spirit. Research is what you make of it, and you have the power to shape it into something meaningful--both in the present moment and every day moving forward.