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Writing, Publishing & Presenting

The Reproducibility Initiative: Let Them Eat Cake!

Despite obvious differences between the Korean professor-biotechnologist Hwang Woo-suk and German-born postdoc Jan Hendrik Schön, who used to work in the US on semiconductors, both of these scientists have something in common. Since Hwang Woo-suk’s and Schön’s groundbreaking articles were published in Nature and Science, nobody has been able to reproduce their results  and the…

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Science writing tips by Trivalent Editing

January 2013 marks the start of a series of articles by Trivalent Editing, full of tips and advice to help you improve your academic writing skills. We are a trio of experienced biomedical scientists who spent many happy years as postdoctoral researchers before making the decision to switch to science editing. During our research careers we successfully prepared…

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How To Craft The Perfect Title For Your Manuscript

Of all the words you write to prepare a manuscript, too often the most important ten or so are left as an afterthought. You’ve slaved for weeks to finish your manuscript. Through draft and re-draft, you managed to shoehorn hundreds of man-hours of careful lab work into the word limit designed to be precisely 300…

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What Is Open Access Anyway?

It is a truth universally acknowledged that free cheese exists only in a mousetrap, and even there it’s free only to the end user. So it’s no wonder that the traditional system of most scientific publications through publishing houses seems to be fair. A publishing house (PH) employs editors as well as technical personnel to…

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The Pressure to Publish and Scientific Misconduct

Every once in a while a big case of scientific fraud reaches public attention. Does that mean these well-known cases are exceptions, a few rotten apples…or might the rest of the fruit bowl also be affected? A major part of a scientist’s work is to secure funding for future research. Obtaining funding is strongly connected…

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How To Ace Your Journal Club Presentation

Scientific journal clubs are a fantastic opportunity to sharpen your presentation skills in an informal atmosphere composed of your peers.  Furthermore, regular attendance will help keep your knowledge of the scientific literature up to date and foster good scientific relationships with your colleagues. The following are a few tips to make the most of your…

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Can Post-Publication Peer Review Really Work?

I recently became aware of Webmedcentral.com, a collection of biomedical journals that publishes research articles online under the unique philosophy of “post-publication peer review”.  The flagship journal of this website, WebmedCentral, promises publication of any article within 48 hours, with absolutely no review process beforehand.  Articles are then open for commenting by members of the…

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How to Write Your Thesis Right

After years of hard work in the lab, having to sit down and write everything up can be a daunting and difficult task. Here are a few tips that I picked up during my thesis write-up that might help to make the process that little bit easier. Back up This is probably the advice most…

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How To Write an Awesome Abstract

Let’s face it: when you said you read that paper, what you really meant was that you read the abstract. And that conference you went to? You probably scanned the abstracts of the posters instead of actually attending the poster session and chatting with the presenters. It’s a dirty little secret and a time-saving tool…

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5 Ways to Delay The Publication of Your Manuscript

Most scientists I know approach the publication process with fear and trembling: the endless discussions about what journal to submit to, the agonized consideration of impact factors, comparing the all-important “time to first decision”, etc. Now that I’ve been working for a scientific publisher for a few months, I’m surprised at how many manuscripts still…

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4 Tips for Better Scientific Image Processing in Photoshop

For scientists, Photoshop is a double-edged sword with a dagger nailed to the hilt. Its power in image processing is unrivalled; its ability to gut you with ethics violations is unmatched. An earlier article outlined how to keep your conscience clean when Photoshopping, here we offer four tips that will help walk with the Photoshop balancing…

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How to Present Successfully at Conferences

The very idea of standing up and giving an oral presentation at a conference gives even the most confident of us butterflies. Additionally, I don’t know many scientists who find the thought of spending hours working on a powerpoint presentation exactly thrilling. However, there are many benefits to presenting your work at a conference. First…

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Is Your Science Making an Impact?

It’s pretty likely you’ll have heard of impact factors, either through colleagues talking about them in the lab, or from a journal homepage advertising its latest score. Whilst impact factor is a relatively artificial value, it is something that journal editors, scientists and some funding agencies take seriously. It’s therefore important to understand what it…

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How to Survive a Poster Session

Poster sessions can be your best friend, or your worst nightmare; it all comes down to how well you’ve prepared.  In this article, I’ll discuss how to present your data in poster form, what to look out for at a poster session, and how to make the most out of a poster session…in short, how…

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5 Reasons To Use LaTeX (The Typesetting Engine, Not The Gloves)

In today’s technology-driven world, we leave so many things to our electronic gadgets. Surprisingly, many life scientists try manically to control the appearance of their documents by hand with programs like MS Word. LaTeX takes this task off your hands by providing highly efficient algorithms to properly format your texts. The results are almost always…

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Make Better Figures Faster Using Illustrator

Against the advice of journals and printers, many scientists use Microsoft Powerpoint to assemble posters and figures. You should consider upgrading to Adobe Illustrator! For generating scientific figures, Illustrator is more powerful and flexible than Powerpoint and is designed to produce print documents at high quality resolution. This means that journals will stop sending your…

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How To Make Figures Right The First Time

Collecting the data took several years, writing the paper took several months, assembling the figures took several weeks, and converting those figures to PDFs took a frustratingly long day. You waited a month for the paper to come back from review, then two months re-doing experiments to satisfy a sadistic reviewer. Finally, your paper is…

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