Edge blogger, Dr. Lucile Wrenshall, MD, PhD, Professor at Wright State University, has produced a prodigious series of blogs with practical and entertaining writing advice. Whether focused on your own writing, mentoring, or teaching scientific writing, it’s a treasure trove. Covering insights for grants, manuscripts, and plain language, she highlights style pointers and common mistakes. We’ve rounded up the posts so you can select from the full menu:

1. Beginner’s Eye for the Science Guy (or Gal)

The beginner’s eye is observing as if you’ve never seen something before. What if you reviewed the last several months of experiments as if you’ve never encountered them — with no a priori hypotheses, no preconceived ideas about meaning, just a clean slate and a basic understanding of the science (hey, that sounds like a reviewer!).

2. Your Grant as Story – the Rogue Character

Have you thought of a grant proposal as a story with a cast of characters? For a reviewer, even those in your field, getting a grip on your characters is like going to a family reunion where you don’t know most of the people. The onus is on you to set the stage for each of your characters. A sudden appearance of molecule “Janet” will confuse the reviewer and break the flow of the grant.

3. Significance – NIH Style

Today, NIH significance sections look for the impact of the proposal against the ‘rigor of prior research.’ Reviewers score significance based on how well a proposal, if successful, will address weaknesses and gaps in the field. (Bonus: discover an ingenious solution for finding lost socks.)

4. Sell Your Specific Aims Using the PASTOR Method

Beyond prayer and hoping for the best. Sell your aims with a ‘loving, caring, protective attitude towards your customer/reviewer.’

5. Building the Specific Aims in Three Parts

  • Part I: Use the first paragraph to explain the scientific problem.
  • Part II: The second paragraph describes your solution (a solution that needs the sponsor’s investment).
  • Part III: The Aims conclude with the next logical conclusion, your hypothesis. What is a good hypothesis?

6. Writer’s Toolbox: Creating Sentences That Flow

Intentional writing forges a path for your intrepid but weary reader/reviewer. If words are cobblestones, then sentences are the way the stones are put together so that one can walk through the forest (grant) without getting lost.

7. Avoiding Barriers Between Your Work and Your Reviewer

Clarity is key to preventing a brilliant idea from being muffled (as words through a mask). Sneaking in definitions and reminders keeps the reviewer connected to your story. Selectively using abbreviations (or opting for long-hand) removes distractions for the reader.


Visit drlucywrenshall.com for more on grant writing, manuscripts, and 1:1 writing help.

Related Resources:

Ome Sweet Ome
The Scientist’s Adverb
What’s Your Water?
Big Words

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1 Comment
Dinender Singla says:

Do you edit the written grant for clarity purposes? If yes, how much money you charge and what is the turn around time.
Dinender Singla 

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