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Third Year IMU Pharmacy Students Published Literature Review in International Peer Reviewed Journal

03 Apr 2017

The IMU Pharmacy programme Year 3 subject (Current Trends in Therapeutics) develops critical appraisal ability and component skills for students to undertake research projects in Year 4. Students in small supervised teams ‘learn by doing’, by undertaking a literature review. Whilst publication is not an expected result, it is always welcomed! In fact, in 2016, this student-led activity saw 5 publications in peer-reviewed journals. Year 3 BPharm students Aruna Ranjan, Chu Jian Feng, Foo Wei Lim, Chai Zhi Xin, Eileen Lau Yin Yien, Ye Heuy Mien, Theam Xi Jin and Lok Yen Ling had their review Zika Virus: Current Concerns & Perspectives published in the journal Clinical Reviews in Allergy and Immunology, a peer reviewed indexed journal, published by Springer Link. We interviewed this student team about their experience of undertaking their review and submitting it for publication. Why did you choose to review Zika infection? We wanted to do something interesting and possibly useful for society, instead of choosing more common topics. We stated the review in the period leading up to the Rio 2016 Olympics, when the Zika virus was a big concern worldwide.

As trainee healthcare professionals, we thought it would be extremely useful to do a literature review on Zika virus infection and how to prevent and manage this emerging global health problem. Our team thought this was an opportunity to increase awareness of the Zika virus in Malaysia. When we shared this idea with our supervisor Dr Mari Kannan Maharajan, he encouraged us to go ahead.

Please share your experience of undertaking this review. For example, besides learning about Zika virus infection, what else did you gain from the review? What challenges did you encounter?
The path from generating the idea, putting the material together in writing and finally to a full review article was long and winding. It definitely required persistence and teamwork. The process was long. We collected a lot of information from the literature, and made many amendments to the article. Identifying, collecting, analysing the literature and trying our best to give an overview was motivating and rewarding. This project provided us the opportunity to dive deep into the topic. We believe that we developed various skills, all of which were crucial to achieve our shared goals. Fostering a team environment was important to improve our performance via the recognition of our contribution and strengths. Our team also learnt to accept new ideas, to trust opinions from members, have open communication, and to view each other as collaborators. Learning was reinforced through peer review and discussion. We had a difficult time finding information using various databases, as information on Zika virus was limited. Undertaking a literature review as undergraduate students is not an easy task, especially because the topic is quite new and the number of published articles are limited. Still, we aimed to provide as complete a review as possible and contribute to global health by publishing this information in a peer reviewed journal. Our biggest challenge was our inexperience in compiling the literature collected and writing the review article. Therefore, we had to refer to many articles to improve our writing, and that itself was time consuming. Having to juggle review writing and other assignments required good time management. Nonetheless, support from the team and our supervisor helped us to overcome all these challenges and succeed in producing this review article.

How did you feel when your paper was accepted for publication? It’s not every day that BPharm students get a paper published in an international peer reviewed journal! There was a mixture of feelings: pride, a feeling of accomplishment, and a thirst for more. We believe that breaking this first barrier brings the confidence needed to pursue more in the future. Our first attempt at publishing this review article involved rejections and re-submissions of different versions of the manuscript – it consumed a lot of our energy and time. Having said that, we think the rejections probably taught us more about how to be better writers. When we got to know that the editor of the journal accepted our work, it felt like a vindication that we could achieve it after all.

Once our names have been in the limelight, especially in PubMed and other digital resources we felt it was a reward for our determination and hard work. The journey in this project was full of planning, implementation, opinions and suggestions. Our accomplishment was the culmination of work we did as a team of students and supervisor. Above all, we were very excited that our work uncovered something useful that broadened our understanding of the management of Zika virus infection.

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