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From textbook to paper reviewing

From textbook to paper reviewing

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Simone Golob

Second-year students dive into all Covid-19 research

Covid-19 changed a lot for everybody, but for the second-year students of the International Medicine Track, it changed the content of their entire course. Instead of learning about drug development, they dived into all the research that has been coming out about the new virus worldwide.

It was quite a change, say students Julius Sigl and Mikaella Loizou. “In other courses, you can get your information from textbooks,” says Loizou. “When you read a paper, it’s based on a lot of evidence and peer-reviewed. Now, new studies came out every day. It’s up to you to decide what is reliable. And it changed so fast; you really have to keep up with your reading.” Sigl: “We had to be very critical and precise. Sometimes a study was very small, often there was no control group.” Loizou: “There is pressure to be the first to come up with something new; you see a lot of researchers jumping to conclusions.”

They didn’t have to do it alone; the course was divided into five themes, which were introduced by an expert, including course coordinator Prof. Harald Schmidt and UM President Prof. Martin Paul.  “Then we split it up in smaller sections, so that everybody could go deep into the research,” says Loizou. Their aim was to see what they could say with some confidence about the virus on the basis of the research so far.

The presentations that the students held about their findings were all recorded. “We are looking into uploading them to a YouTube channel,” says Sigl. “But we’ll have to have permission from the university, of course we only want to do it if the quality is high enough.”  The students are also working with their professors on a paper themselves. “It’s about the journey we made, from only knowing what we heard and read in the media to selecting our information from papers,” says Loizou.

The course is almost over, but the students have no intention of stopping their reading. “I feel like we represent the university,” says Loizou. “When I go home to Cyprus in a couple of weeks, people will start talking about Covid-19, they will want to know what I think. Because we know more than the general public, I feel it’s our duty to share our knowledge.” “And to keep up,” says Sigl. “In medicine you never stop learning.”

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