“Good research questions exist right at the cusp on which current research is forming nebulous concept clouds. Naturally, if you are interested in finding the best ideas, and want to rub (proverbial) shoulders with the most happening crowd in a research niche; you need to find out where the “secret” party is happening.
I have always had a taste for the esoteric when it came to my research interests and for my MD dissertation, I decided I would look at the mental and physical health of homeless men. Aside from the methodological challenge, locating the critical evidence to first plan, then execute, and finally, critique my work, was a major hurdle. Usually, MD students working on their theses allot a month or so for their review of literature, a large part of which is dedicated to basically locating, and poring over large segments of irrelevant publications of cherry-pick the few that “get stuck in the net” by chance. I, however, needed just about a week to complete mine. I was helped by the fact that my research question was not vastly explored; however, it would be unfair of me to usurp all the credit for the feat.
It all began one fine winter morning in Kolkata, where, as a medical student, I attended a workshop by Vasumathi ma’am on Literature Searching. I went in, feeling quite sure I was doing it right: I had, after all, not only heard the names, but also used PubMed and Google Scholar and Cochrane Databases a fair bit. But, by the end of the four-hour session, I was humbled. I realized till I attended the workshop, I had been using these amazing online tools much like a Palaeolithic man uses stone instruments: hacking away blindly, with brute force, and hoping for the best. And I could say that I was not the only one, because it was the first time I saw a full audience, alert and active, questioning, doubting, raising hands, debating, all after a full, sumptuous lunch!
QMed has created an information revolution in India, especially in the newer generation of medical students who are more tech-savvy and research oriented. As Evidence-Based Medicine becomes more ubiquitous in our day-to-day practice, searching, finding and appreciating critical literature becomes a skill that every physician needs to have. While conventional medical education still has a bit of catching up to do to equip students and libraries with these skills, I shall keep turning to my Friends at QMed to help me frame those magic enchantments they call a search strategy to figure out the best and most relevant evidence for my work.”