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Writing, Publishing & Presenting

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…

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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…

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Open Access: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

Your scientific research results will only change the world if they are effectively shared with the rest of the scientific community and with the world. Sharing our research is, of course, why we publish in peer-reviewed journals. The process of evaluating, editing, and publishing research papers has an inherent and unavoidable cost. Traditionally, journal subscribers…

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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…

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Writing a Successful Graduate Fellowship Application

The most obvious benefit of a graduate fellowship is the generous monetary support that pays for your stipend, tuition, and/or travel expenses. The not-so-obvious benefits of writing a graduate fellowship application come from being forced to analyze your research project and set realistic goals. This activity alone will make you reflect about who you are…

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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…

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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…

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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…

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What I Learned as a Grant Reviewer

A few years ago, when I was working for a biotechnology company, I got a special letter in the mail.  The NIH asked me to be an ad-hoc grant reviewer for small business grants. Although I drew these lessons from the NIH grant review process, they can probably be applied to many granting agencies.  If…

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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.…

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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…

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How (not) to write a terrible scientific thesis

So it’s time to write up your thesis. By now, you probably consider yourself an expert on your topic or you hate the sight of it (or both!). Either way, hundreds of typewritten pages are all that stands between you and graduation/freedom. One of your first requirements will be to review the current knowledge on…

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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,…

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