Advice and How-Tos

Tips for writing your first scientific literature review article

Emily Crawford, a graduate student at the University of California at San Francisco, blazes the review writing trail for novices. Not able to find an instructive article to guide her, she lays out her experiences here for us, so that you might avoid pitfalls and save time when you’re called upon to write your first review article.


Advice for new grads entering the job market

In this age of rapid technological changes, you have to be open to continuous training — to be ready to reinvent yourself.


15 tips for effective interviewing

As a job candidate, your No. 1 goal is to present and, when possible, highlight for your evaluators the strong points of your training, experience, ability and potential. Here are some tips to help you achieve that goal. But keep in mind that an interview should be an exchange, a dialogue — not a theatrical performance or a confidence scheme.


Navigating the NIH grant-application process

If your career goal is to perform biomedical research, then you should read this article. Here, Sonia C. Flores provides step-by-step instructions and tips for navigating the grant application and review process at the National Institutes of Health.


How to help students learn — and thrill your department chair

Choosing a career in academics? While most scientists are reasonably well-prepared to embark upon research careers, many have far less experience in teaching. The pleasure of observing students learn is as rewarding as research, although it might seem the results are less tangible. But with a tiny bit of effort, you can demonstrate evidence!


Not for the faint hearted — but if you feel the calling...

If the tenured academic position was ever a guaranteed job for life (highly debatable), those days are long, long gone. Rather, someone considering a traditional academic research and teaching position had better have passion and a calling. If you do, and if you’re not faint of heart, what can you expect? Here’s a small collection of tips for those setting out on the exciting high-wire act.


How to write top-flight manuscript titles

General advice and specific pointers for authors submitting manuscripts to journals.


Great graduate school applications: what program directors really look for

It’s my junior year. I’ve done all of the tedious, general laboratory classes and taken all the foundational math and physics courses, and I’ve begun to hunger for more of a challenge, some way that I can apply these topics beyond textbooks and show my love for research: graduate school. But the graduate-school application process can be overwhelming for those of us balancing classes, extracurricular activities and interpersonal relationships, so I decided to go straight to the source to find out how to go about it: the professors who make up the admissions committees at the top research universities in the nation.


Nine quick fixes for scientific talks

As a scientist, at some point in your career, you will be asked to give an oral presentation about your research. Whether it’s a thesis defense, a job talk, a lecture at a meeting, or just a simple presentation of results to lab mates, it’s important to be able to get your point across in a concise and interesting manner. The following is a simple checklist that will help you organize and prepare your talk.


Advice for new assistant professors

As someone who has observed many assistant professors over the years and lived to get tenure himself, I have observed certain patterns that appear to hold true for assistant professors who aspire to be tenured. When I became department head, I put together a list of these items to pass on to newly arrived faculty members. Although the list was generated with the environment and expectations of a research university in mind, most of these items also apply to new faculty members at primarily undergraduate institutions, medical schools, and so on.


Things to look for in a thesis adviser

On the scale of human interactions, the relationship between a graduate student and his or her thesis adviser (a.k.a. major professor) lies somewhere between that of roommates locked into a long-term lease and a marriage. Finding a good match among the faculty typically is the single most important determinant of the quality of a graduate-school experience.


Stranger in a strange land

Student advising can serve as an effective and surprisingly efficient mechanism for learning about your new institution and the students that it serves.


Science gets the interview, but you get the job

Melissa Starovasnik of the Genentech research organization gives advice to those seeking industry work. One tip: "Many candidates have mistakenly confessed during interviews for research positions that they are 'more interested in the business side or management.' If that is true of you, then you should not be pursuing research positions. We indeed conduct rigorous experimental science in industry!"


Go ahead, brag a little

Learn how to work with your institution’s communicators and with reporters to tell the world about your research.


Fellowships 101: policy opportunities for scientists

For those of you who crave a career outside of the lab, you are in luck — there are loads of fellowship opportunities for scientists who want to work in the policy realm.


Protecting biomedical inventions through patents

Many biomedical innovations have the potential for commercialization. As there is usually a lag between initial conception of ideas and commercialization of a developed product, it is important to develop a strategy at an early stage for protecting inventions. One way is to obtain a patent.


Beyond the bench: social media in science

Social media is more than just reconnecting with old friends on Facebook.


Demystifying maternity planning for postdocs

The National Postdoctoral Association offers a number of tips for those who are pregnant and those who are thinking about getting pregnant during a postdoctoral appointment.


Peering below the surface

Some tips for reading letters of reference.