The soft-skills you need, and how to get them, to advance in your research career


For all scientists

There are many resources, just a web search away, on skills you need to be a successful research scientist (often equally applicable to other careers). Below are some we have used in the lab, as well as in Bachelors and Masters courses:

"Ten simple rules" guides on writing, presentations, collaborations, networking and more from PLOS Computational Biology

Science Careers features frequently updated advice columns; here is a collection on Balancing career and family

"Q & As" from Current Biology features informative and inspiring personal career stories and views on topical issues

Tips on making a great poster from Cornell Center for Materials Research

David Stern's frank blog on "How to Give a Talk"

Tips on giving a good scientific oral (and poster) presentation - slides from my own seminar

The 1-hour workday - encapsulates one key way to get the writing tasks done

From William Strunk, Jr. and E.B. White, The Elements of Style, Fourth Ed., Allyn & Bacon: "Omit needless words.  Vigorous writing is concise.  A sentence should contain no unnecessary words, a paragraph no unnecessary sentences, for the same reason that a drawing should have no unnecessary lines and a machine no unnecessary parts.  This requires not that the writer make all sentences short, or avoid all detail and treat subjects only in outline, but that every word tell."


For prospective PhD students and Post-docs

Tough love: An insensitive guide to thriving in your PhD - a pretty much spot-on guide from what to expect of yourself and your supervisor when undertaking a PhD, from Chris Chambers

Am I good enough enough to be a scientist? - points to reflect on when you start out (and, in fact, at any career stage), from Antonio Marco in LabTimes

Cynical and acynical advise for grad students: useful and provocative advice (sometimes outdated) from Stephen Sears and Ray Huey

10 habits for a successful post-doc - useful nuggets of advice from Catherine Drennan in the Times Higher Education


For prospective (or current) Principal Investigators

At the Helm - Kathy Barker's must-have guide for new (and old) PIs

For potential PIs invited for interview: Leslie Vosshall's advice on the "Chalk Talk"

How to run a Selection Panel for grants (or anything else) - thoughtful reflections by Nicolas Le Novère

Your toughest experiment: taking the lead in the lab - different viewpoints and tips on how to be a successful PI

The Awesomest 7-Year Postdoc or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Tenure-Track Faculty Life - Radhika Nagpal's pragmatic viewpoint on succeeding at (and enjoying) the first few years of running an independent lab


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