Salami Slicing Science

When I was a graduate student, one particular research group caught my attention because they seemed to publish a manuscript at least monthly. It didn’t take long, however, for me to appreciate that all of their publications were very similar; it was only the Results Section that changed substantively from one publication to the next.

At a time when writing research manuscripts intimidated me, I realized how easy preparing new manuscripts…

+ read more

Guidance on authorship

At virtually every Biomedical Publication Seminar I present, attendees line up during breaks to seek my input on conflicts they are currently facing regarding authorship. Thus, if you find yourself struggling to decide who should or shouldn’t be included as an author of a manuscript, you’re not alone.

Vera-Badillo et al. (Eur J Cancer, 2016) recently investigated the issue of Honorary and Ghost Authors of manuscripts…

+ read more

The MOST IMPORTANT reason grant applications fail

Approximately two months ago, we posted a commentary in which we listed thirty reasons why applications for grant support were likely to fail. That post attracted significant interest among our readers as well as several comments. One of the more frequent questions concerned the issue as to whether the list of thirty reasons was presented in order of relative importance…

+ read more

The future for biomedical PhDs – significantly less than promising?

Over the last several decades, there have been several insightful scientists who have carefully considered the increasing degree of imbalance between the number of doctoral degrees awarded in the biomedical sciences and the reality of an academic career of teaching and research in fields related to these disciplines. In fact, several years ago

+ read more

New NIH rules affect clinical research applications

We have earlier posted a number of blogs regarding extremely important recent changes at the NIH concerning the preparation of grant proposals to the NIH. In keeping with the renewed focus on reproducibly, the NIH last September enacted a change in policy affecting all applicants submitting grant applications describing proposed randomized clinical trials. This proposed policy change has…

+ read more

MUST READING: Rigorous Science: a how-to guide

As readers of this blog know well, and indeed, as most informed grant applicants interested in NIH funding know, the NIH has recently (May, 2016) instituted a number of policy changes. Foremost among these are changes regarding the critical importance of the underlying Scientific Premise for any proposed research project, as well as the requirement that all proposals must adhere to principles of Scientific Rigor…

+ read more

Hints: Writing Your Objectives

One of the fundamental points that is relevant to almost all grant proposals is the fact that the proposal is (or at least should be), designed to address a problem or need (that the target funding agency also recognizes as important). Thus, the primary (but certainly not only) purpose of the proposal should then be to explain to the funding agency (and/or the reviewers) what the applicant’s idea(s) would be as to how to address that need or fix the problem. To achieve these goals…

+ read more

Ask the Experts – NEVER let this happen to you!

We recently received the following correspondence from an NSF grant applicant:

“Dear GWSW,

I was very recently unable to complete the submission of my CRII proposal, which was due to the NSF last Wednesday. I, unfortunately, made one of the worst mistakes I could make in my life. I delayed all the document uploading until the last minute without considering the delays that may occur during web document conversion. The deadline was passed by a minute or less when the proposal package was finally ready for submission, but it was unfortunately too late…

+ read more

Part 2: Dangerous words to avoid in grant applications

Probably among the most commonly used words in grant proposals is the verb/noun “(to) understand”. Applicants very frequently plan grant applications that have been designed to “understand” something, whether an explanation for a certain social phenomenon, a biochemical pathway, clarification of an as yet to be identified series of observations, or even a way to explain the underlying reasons for a given historical event. Thus, how common it is to read: “The objective in this proposal is to understand the underlying reasons for…”. Alternatively, there are those applicants who feel it important to be…

+ read more

Part 1: Dangerous words that should be avoided in grant proposals

Two words that should usually be avoided by applicants in preparing their grant applications are “IF” and “WHETHER”. These words represent distinct manifestations of the same concept, since “If” implies “It might or it might not”, and “Whether” always provides for the option “Whether or not”. The primary problem with their use is that they both provide opportunities for a negative outcome to occur. While it is certainly possible that either a positive or an alternative…

+ read more