Guide to choosing a good topic

Guide to choosing a good topic

Go BIG: Choose a topic from the big journals with large impact factors, rather than more obscure ones. Choose from one of the following as a good place to start: NEJM, JAMA, Lancet, Thorax, Chest, European Respiratory Journal, American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine (aka the “Blue Journal”)

TYPE: This may be pretty much anything, including about drugs, interventions (lung volume reduction, bronchial valves), and service delivery.

Choose a topic that is RECENT as well as important. Don’t present the study that demonstrated the link between tobacco and lung cancer. You will not score well if you do. As a guide look at studies/topics that have come up in the previous 5 years.

Choose a topic that is IMPORTANT and that has changed, or will very likely change, the way respiratory medicine is practiced globally.

Clear link between the study findings and the impact it will have on the speciality: RCTs or meta-analyses or RCTs of treatments published in the big journals are a good example – just make sure it has led to a big change in how the condition is managed. These can be negative or positive studies. Examples include – anti-IL5s/Anti-IgEs in asthma, lung cancer screening studies (NELSON, NLST, UKLS). In contrast, a more difficult choice of study is one looking into pathophysiology, epidemiology

PERSONALISE: Make sure the topic is specific to you and you can justify it. Maybe you are very interested in the subspeciality, or you saw a patient being transformed by the treatment and are fascinated about its potential impact for the condition, or you spent your elective in an area with a high incidence of TB or filiriasis and you came across an important paper that impacted the way that condition is managed.

SIMPLIFY: Don’t focus on the treatment of a very rare condition, or a topic for which the evidence is very disputed. Go for something simple, uncontroversial, and universally accepted.

BACK UP: Have a second topic/study in your mind. Some interviewers might ask for a second topic to catch you off guard. You won’t be expected to present it but might be asked to briefly talk about it.

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