It’s a relatively new world for scientists. Up until the 2000s, research funding increased steadily before reaching a plateau and dropping with sequestration budget cuts. Nowadays, scientists spend a great deal of time fighting for grants, rather than actually doing research. It’s an interesting, but sobering reality: as you progress in your science career, you may (or already do), find yourself spending more and more time planning and writing grants.
The Literature Review
Literature reviews are some of the most widely read and highly cited papers in academia, but writing one can be a daunting task, requiring an expert understanding of the topic at hand. To write a review article is so much more than simply summarizing recent studies published in the field. The most valuable literature reviews, which I find myself going back to again and again, are those that:
As scientists, writing is a major component of the job, yet having “no time to write” is a common complaint echoed amongst PhD candidates, post-docs, and professors alike. On top of experiments, data analyses, and taking/teaching courses, writing can easily end up on the back burner. But publishing papers, like it or not, is critical for a career in science. Rather than setting intimidating goals like publishing some number of papers within a year or publishing in a high impact journal, it is more feasible and beneficial to first develop good writing habits, which will in the long run increase productivity.