Writing Science: How to Write Papers That Get Cited and Proposals That Get Funded


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Read our policy. Registration is free, quick and easy. You'll be able to read more articles, watch more videos and listen to more podcasts. It takes less than a minute and it's completely free. By Sarah Farley 15 March This book aims to help all scientists improve their writing and increase the impact of their work. The early chapters consider the different types of story structure and their constituent parts, while the following chapters look more closely at paragraphs, sentences and flow.

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The concluding chapters provide guidance on energising your writing, overcoming limitations, and on the final editing and condensing of your work, as well as writing for the public. The advice is clearly explained and illustrated throughout, with abundant real examples of good and bad practice. Readers are also invited to select papers from the primary literature and their own work, and at the end of each chapter are encouraged to use the newly introduced concepts to suggest improvements to them.

Scientists and students at all levels will benefit from the practical advice in this book. Although producing a good document is never simple, the concepts described here are easy to apply and will undoubtedly increase the impact of your written work.

ES Financials. TM1 Budgeting. Concur Expense Management. Governance Recordkeeping. University Services Feedback. Check out the sample chapter from this excellent book on writing science papers and proposals. Other resources you might find interesting The last mile in academic publishing: revising a manuscript. How to publish your journal paper. On the art of writing proposals. Publishing research. Page owner: Research Training. In biology, we value biodiversity; each species brings something slightly different to the table, and so we worry about homogenizing the biosphere.

This is modified from a line in the real document, which is of course, confidential. Definitions include: To thrust, to strike or dash against.

Book Review: Writing Science: How to Write Papers That Get Cited and Proposals That Get Funded

The act of impinging; the striking of one body against another; collision. A physical blow. India Suppl. In that sentence, it was the opening of the investigation that had the impact, and that opening was a single event. English has an enormous vocabulary, the greatest verbidiversity of any language on Earth, having taken words from Anglo-Saxon, Norman-French, Latin, and others. Be sensitive to those lingering implications, and use your words thoughtfully.

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If nothing else, using language thoughtfully means it may be more likely that a reviewer is paying rapt attention to the cool science you are trying to sell, instead of writing a blog post about how your language annoyed him even if he still thinks the science is cool. It helps the editor decide whether a paper should be published, and which changes they should request or require. It helps the author by offering guidance on how to improve their work so that it is clearer and more compelling for a reader.

But keep in mind:. When wounded soldiers are brought into a medical unit, busy doctors must separate who is likely to die regardless of what surgeons might do from those who can be saved by appropriate medical care. Across all those, not a single paper has ever been accepted outright—not one. Some only needed a light bandage, others required major surgery, but they all needed some editorial care.

An editor at a top-tier journal such as Nature is like a surgeon on a bloody battlefield, getting a flood of patients that overload any ability to treat them all, and so a higher proportion must be rejected and allowed to die. Typically, an editor makes a first triage cut—if the paper is so badly off that it obviously has no chance of surviving, he or she will usually reject the paper without getting external reviews. When you are asked to review a manuscript, the first question you must address is the triage question: is this paper salvageable?

A paper may have a dataset that is fundamentally publishable but an analysis or story in such poor shape that it would be best to decline the paper and invest limited editorial resources elsewhere. Thus, when you are writing a review, the first paragraph s should target the triage decision and frame your argument for whether the paper should be rejected or should move forward in the editorial process. Is the core science sound, interesting, and important enough for this journal?

Is the manuscript itself well enough written and argued that with a reasonable level of revision it will likely become publishable? You need to explain your reasoning and analysis clearly and objectively enough that the editors and authors can understand your recommendation. This section of the review should focus on identifying places where you think the authors are unclear or wrong in their presentations and interpretations, and on offering suggestions on how to solve the problems. The tone should be constructive and fundamentally supportive. In this section, you are free to identify as many issues as you wish—but you need to be specific and concrete.

It may not be obvious to them what you mean—you must explain your thinking and educate them. A good review needs to be clear and concrete. When I do a review, I usually make side notes and comments as I read the paper. Then I collect my specific comments, synthesize my critical points about the intellectual framing of the paper, and write the guts of the review—the overall assessment. I target that discussion toward the editor , since my primary responsibility is to help her with triage.

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She will ultimately tell the authors what changes they should make for the paper to become publishable. Then, I include my line-by-line specific comments. Those are aimed at the authors , as they tend to be more specific comments about the details of the paper. The specific comments typically run from half a page to a few pages of text. Sometimes reviews get longer—I have written 6-page reviews, reviews where I wanted to say that I thought the paper was fundamentally interesting and important, but that I disagreed with some important parts of it and that I wanted to argue with the authors about those pieces.

Accept : The paper is ready to publish. You should almost never use this on a first review. Reconsider following revision : The paper is wounded, but savable. The problems go beyond clarity or minor edits; the paper requires some rethinking. It will therefore likely need re-review.

Reject : The paper should be allowed to die.


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Keep in mind that as a reviewer, you are typically anonymous. The editor is not. I signed on to do that job, but I do appreciate your help.

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Give your most honest and accurate assessment but remember that the editor must make the decision and must attach their name to that decision. How does this advice change if you are getting a revised manuscript back for re-review? First, remember that the editor likely received two or three external reviews that might have varied in their assessments and recommendations—editors need to synthesize all that input before making a decision and offering guidance to the authors. In my experience, reviewers are usually right when they identify problems, but are less reliably so in their suggestions for how to fix them.

When doing a re-review, your job is to determine whether the paper has crossed the threshold of acceptability, not whether the authors have done everything that you had suggested, and particularly not whether they did everything in the way you might have suggested. The more difficult call is when a paper has improved, but not enough.


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  • The paper might have gotten better, but not enough and the trajectory is looking relatively flat. In such a case, you should probably recommend rejecting the paper. Well, too bad for them. We help our colleagues by identifying areas where the work is unclear or the arguments weak. Review can be a painful process, but writing science is hard; no one ever gets it completely right on the first shot. No one. Writing Science How to write papers that get cited and proposals that get funded.

    About Josh Schimel.

    Writing science: how to write papers that get cited and proposals that get funded

    Student Career Paths. Filed under Uncategorized. Right now the only funds I have are for a separate desert-focused project. Unless some of you have the money to cover it, it seems like my other option would be to scrounge around my University to find a way to pay it.

    Do any of you have experience with similar situations in the past—where the paper comes out after the project money is gone? Filed under Academe , Language use and abuse.

    Writing Science: How to Write Papers That Get Cited and Proposals That Get Funded Writing Science: How to Write Papers That Get Cited and Proposals That Get Funded
    Writing Science: How to Write Papers That Get Cited and Proposals That Get Funded Writing Science: How to Write Papers That Get Cited and Proposals That Get Funded
    Writing Science: How to Write Papers That Get Cited and Proposals That Get Funded Writing Science: How to Write Papers That Get Cited and Proposals That Get Funded
    Writing Science: How to Write Papers That Get Cited and Proposals That Get Funded Writing Science: How to Write Papers That Get Cited and Proposals That Get Funded
    Writing Science: How to Write Papers That Get Cited and Proposals That Get Funded Writing Science: How to Write Papers That Get Cited and Proposals That Get Funded
    Writing Science: How to Write Papers That Get Cited and Proposals That Get Funded Writing Science: How to Write Papers That Get Cited and Proposals That Get Funded
    Writing Science: How to Write Papers That Get Cited and Proposals That Get Funded Writing Science: How to Write Papers That Get Cited and Proposals That Get Funded

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