Monthly Archives: July 2022

Which institutional affiliation should you list on a paper?

There are a lot of bits and pieces in a scientific paper. You’ll find advice for writing most of them in The Scientist’s Guide to Writing, but somewhat to my chagrin I keep finding gaps – most recently when Jonathan Losos wrote to ask me this apparently simple question:

When you publish a paper, where do you list your institution: where you were when the work was done, where you were when the paper was submitted, where you are now, or some combination of the above?

Jonathan, like me, has been in the publishing game for a while, and I think he was a bit nonplussed to realize he had to ask the question.  There don’t seem to be clear guidelines, or at least not universal ones. As Jonathan put it, “A quick google suggested that…everyone, just like me, makes up their own rules”. Continue reading

Effective grant proposals, Part 4: Yes, do sweat the small stuff

Today, the fifth part in my series on writing effective grant proposals. The first three parts dealt with the content of a grant proposal: the important information a grant needs to convey about the importance of the work you’re proposing, its feasibility, and your ability to do it. (Part four, about your reader, comes up below). You certainly need the right content to have a chance at funding, but that’s not all you need – so today, a pitch for presentation.

I know, we’re scientists, and we sometimes tell each other that what matters is the objectively measured quality of our ideas, not the style in which we present them. I hope it’s obvious that that’s both tempting and wrong: Continue reading

I think I finally like writing

Like virtually all scientists, I write a lot. Over the last decade, I’ve written two books (and for one of them, a second edition), a proposal for a third book, about two dozen papers,* a dozen grant proposals, over 500 posts here on Scientist Sees Squirrel, and a basketful of miscellaneous reports, lay articles, and administrative documents. I figured out quite a while ago that it’s quite normal for a scientist to spend more time writing that they do anything else – even if writing isn’t why most of us chose science as a career. What’s surprising about this really isn’t my volume of writing (I write more than some, less than others). It’s that until recently, I really didn’t enjoy doing it. Continue reading

A new preprint, author contributions, and the best kind of collaboration

We’ve just posted a new preprint! Like our recent funny-titles study, it’s a pandemic pivot project. Like our funny-titles study, it’s a little weird – but also exciting. I’ll tell you a bit about the preprint, and then use it to make a point about collaborations.

Have you ever wondered if names only label things, or if they also influence the way we think about those things? Continue reading