Owning your authentic scientific voice

Owning your authoritative scientific “voice” is critical for ensuring that reviewers see you as a knowledgeable, credible expert prepared to undertake the work proposed in the application. When providing background information and describing the findings of other investigators, many applicants use…

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Reviewer Fatigue

Reviewer Fatigue implies that an Editor’s Request to Review a manuscript is more likely to be ignored or declined today than it would have been 10-15 years ago. Although many Editorials address concerns about Reviewer Fatigue…

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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…

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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…

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Open Access and Predatory Publications

In a study published in 2013, John Bohannon provided alarming information about open-access scientific journals. The author submitted a manuscript representing a fabricated study, from a fabricated author, from a non-existent research institute to 304 open-access journals. The manuscript contained…

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Should I recommend a reviewer for my manuscript?

Many biomedical journals offer authors an opportunity to identify potential reviewers for their manuscript. Published evidence has consistently supported the conclusion that author-recommended reviewers respond more favorably to submitted manuscripts than editor-selected reviewers. In a recent…

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Data show vs data shows – which is correct?

Over the past year in these posts, we have frequently emphasized the critical importance of proper usage of the English language. This emphasis is predicated upon the fundamental concept that it is important to say what you mean and mean what you say, particularly in writing grant applications. We recently received a query…

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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…

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Tips on optimizing opportunities for success in science

It is a simple fact of life that, similar to every other profession, scientists uniformly aspire to be successful in their chosen profession. Of potential importance, therefore, a very important recently published study by Andrew Higginson and Marcus Munato in the well-respected journal, PLOS Biology, November 10, 2016, page 1371 provides a fascinating insight into one way to do this…

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Successful Proposals to Any Agency Workbook Updated

GWSW announces the extensively updated Successful Proposals to Any Agency workbook, issued September 2016

Our GWSW family is delighted to bring to your attention the latest updates of our grant proposal writing and publication workbooks, designed to allow you to stay abreast of the latest changes at our nation’s funding agencies…

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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…

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Dear Editor: How can you conclude that my manuscript is not acceptable for publication?

Most of us in academia have wanted to write such a letter at some time in our career. We all know that, fundamental to a successful career in academia is the ability to effectively publish your research findings. In an earlier post (May 22, 2016) we discussed some of the increasingly complex reasons why this is becoming increasingly difficult – especially for publication in what are considered “top rate” journals. Of course, the primary reason that submitted manuscripts are not published is lousy data. However, there are multiple other relevant reasons that, importantly, are potentially easily fixable!…

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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…

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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…

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Would you like to hone your proposal writing skills?

Experienced applicants, reviewers and funding agency officials generally agree that of the best ways to become a better proposal writer is to serve as a reviewer of proposals and most federal funding agencies provide opportunities to do this. The underlying reasons for being proactive in seeking out such opportunities are multiple. First, you will have the opportunity to observe the review process “up close and personal” which is likely to radically…

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