Tips for Choosing Your Lab Notebook Pen (and Why You Need to Choose Carefully)

Tips for Choosing Your Lab Notebook Pen (and Why You Need to Choose Carefully)

Keeping a meticulous lab record of your experiments is a necessity. And it’s drilled into us to back up our computers, including backups stored in different locations to ensure vital records don’t get lost. But how do we protect the hard copy information in our lab books? You may not have given much thought previously…

Scientific Illustrations Part II: Molecular Graphics and Animation

Scientific Illustrations Part II: Molecular Graphics and Animation

How do you explain to your friends and family what you have you’ve been working on all this time? Conveying the true wonder and intricacy of your work to the layperson can be tricky. They won’t be familiar with the lingo, and they might not immediately know how to interpret scientific graphs and figures. You…

Scientific Illustrations Part I: Schematics and Cartoons

Scientific Illustrations Part I: Schematics and Cartoons

Biologists have a long tradition of drawing specimens as a form of data collection before the invention of the camera. The ability to present information in the form of illustrations is an important but often understated skill in a scientist’s toolkit. Scientific illustrations in publications run the gamut from schematics, 3D models, cartoons, and even…

Intellectual Property: How Not to Shoot Yourself in the Foot

Intellectual Property: How Not to Shoot Yourself in the Foot

So you’ve discovered the Holy Grail all life scientists in your field are searching for – congratulations! The dollar signs start appearing and you realize that there is a huge scope for commercializing your research. But before you can actually collect the rewards, you need to have been thinking tactically about how to protect your…

Assertive Slide Titles to Guide Your Presentation

When I first learned how to design scientific presentations, I kept hearing the same advice from well-intentioned mentors: “Make sure your presentation tells a story!” they’d say. I understood what they meant in principle, but I had difficulty implementing this advice in my own presentations. In this article, I’m going to share a simple way…

How to Avoid Accidental Plagiarism and Academic Fraud [BMA Podcast]

How to Avoid Accidental Plagiarism and Academic Fraud [BMA Podcast]

In the modern research environment we have all of the information we need to work with right at our fingertips – just a cut and paste away. And that makes it very easy for even the most well-meaning scientist to accidentally stumble into plagiarism. Most of us think of plagiarism as simply copying someone else’s…

How to Stop Worrying and Love Your Q&A Session

How to Stop Worrying and Love Your Q&A Session

It’s your first conference talk, and you’re as ready as ready gets. Your outfit is on point, you’ve practiced your talk to perfection, you’ve backed up your slides on two flash drives plus your laptop (just in case), and everything is under control. Well, except for one thing: the dreaded Q&A session. There’s no telling…

How to Give an Incredible Scientific Talk

How to Give an Incredible Scientific Talk

Committee meeting approaching? 10 minute department seminar? Lab meeting? Fear not! My adviser has insulted my presentations so regularly, that I’ve finally learned some things. Hopefully, I can head your adviser off at the pass, and give you some tips on crafting an incredible talk. What’s the Occasion? Who’s Your Audience? This is arguably the most important…

Scientific Cyber Fraud: Nobody Move—We’re Taking Over This Journal!

Scientific Cyber Fraud: Nobody Move—We’re Taking Over This Journal!

Keeping up to date with the scientific literature is a large part of the work-load of any researcher. Love it or loathe it, this means of sharing research findings with the larger scientific community is still the way in which most of us inform ourselves of the latest findings in our fields of research, or…

The Art of Scientific Authorship: Political Science

The Art of Scientific Authorship: Political Science

The elusive manuscript. It’s what we, as scientists, build our kingdoms on—throwing ourselves into our research, hoping to feel our time in the sun when it all comes to fruition in the form of that glorious body of work. But…what how do you determine who should share in that sunshine? Should you always put your…

How to Make a Good Graphical Abstract
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How to Make a Good Graphical Abstract

Presenting science concisely poses many challenges: How do you say enough without saying too much? Are you capturing the main points? Does this research paper abstract attract the reader’s attention and make them want to read your paper? That last question is the most important and the most overlooked one. And to address it, many…

The Art of Bridging the Gap between Scientists and the Public

The Art of Bridging the Gap between Scientists and the Public

Communicating your science to a lay audience is different than giving a talk to other scientists. An urban legend says that when Michael Faraday verified the relationship between electricity and magnetism, he was asked to present his evidence to the prime minister of England. So, he had his coils arranged and he just moved a…

Making Sense of Creative Commons Licenses
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Making Sense of Creative Commons Licenses

As a scientist, you have many options when it comes to licensing your original, scholarly work. For every new paper, data set, video/audio recording, image collection, figure, or computer program (just to name a few), you must decide how far and wide the material will be distributed and what others are allowed to do with…

How to be an Effective Corresponding Author

How to be an Effective Corresponding Author

Writing manuscripts is an integral part of research. And being listed as an author on a published article is the most cherished dream of a research scholar/ graduate student. However, what about the corresponding author role? During your Ph.D tenure, you will be encouraged to compile your data and write manuscripts based on your results….

Top 5 Tips for Maintaining Your Sanity During Thesis Writing

Top 5 Tips for Maintaining Your Sanity During Thesis Writing

For many scientists the most intimidating aspect of undertaking a PhD isn’t the long hours in the lab or the uncertain nature of the job length in academia that follows it. It’s the thought of attempting to write up 4+ years of work into a single cohesive thesis! The thesis writing process can vary greatly…

How to Give a Great Scientific Talk and Engage Your Audience

How to Give a Great Scientific Talk and Engage Your Audience

We have all been to awful talks—hours of slides crammed with data, given by presenters who assume you know as much as they do. But hopefully you’ve also seen a great scientific talk. A talk in which you’re walked through a story, eagerly anticipating each question and data point, until you finally reach a conclusion…

The Do’s and Don’ts of Making and Presenting a Scientific Poster

The Do’s and Don’ts of Making and Presenting a Scientific Poster

At a conference, a poster can be a great tool for drawing people into conversation. Not only do you have something to break the ice with, you can also get really useful feedback from a completely different perspective! To make sure you get the most out of your poster time it’s important to have a…

What You Should Know About Intellectual Property Rights

What You Should Know About Intellectual Property Rights

Innovation is the essence of research and it is the fuel that keeps the research industry going. If it were not for inventions, the field of scientific research would have dropped dead long ago. However, simply innovating something is not sufficient. It is not the end of the road, but the beginning of it. Therefore,…

Publishing Online?  Consider a Graphical Abstract

Publishing Online? Consider a Graphical Abstract

There is a new way to present your paper, and some journals are even beginning to require it. Introducing… the Graphical Abstract. When submitting for online journals, not only do you have to write your normal abstract, you may also need to provide a graphical abstract. Various publishers, such as Elsevier, Springer, Taylor & Francis,…

Five Simple Tips to Break Your Dissertation up into Manageable Parts

Five Simple Tips to Break Your Dissertation up into Manageable Parts

You’ve got an advisor, you’re done with classes, you’ve finally passed your qualifying exams and your dissertation project is underway. Life is looking good, but it’s not too early to start thinking about how to tackle your dissertation. Chances are this is the biggest writing project you have ever undertaken, so breaking it up into…