#AcademicTwitter: I used to be a horrible scientific writer. I was paralyzed by writing anxiety & it took me FOREVER to write papers. Last year I published 14 scientific articles (8 first, 2 second, 2 senior-author) & 2 book chapters.

A thread⬇️on how I became more productive:
1. Figure out when you write best & block out that time on your calendar.

I write best in the morning. Unless unavoidable, I do not take meetings in the morning. Mornings are my time to read, write, & think. I write every single day, Monday-Friday. Even if just 30 minutes.
Every Friday, I do a brain dump of what tasks I need to complete for the following week. I block off my calendar with writing times & what I will focus on during those times (e.g., 8-10am is specific aims). I try to be realistic about what I can accomplish during a given time.
This helps organize what I need to do for the following week so I start each Monday with a plan in place. Life happens and it doesn't always work exactly the way I put it in my calendar, but it works a lot better for me than not having a plan at all.
I set my alarm to write for the designated time. Once the alarm goes off (usually a 30 or 60 minute writing block), I get up and go on a 5- or 10-minute walk. Helps me get my steps in, feel refreshed, clears my head, and I'm ready to come back and get my writing done again.
There are days that I am tired & have no motivation to write. On those days, I focus my energies on writing tasks that don't require intellectual jumping jacks - getting title pages ready, working on tables, inserting citations. But I make progress, however small, most days.
2. Create an outline.

This is fairly controversial but for me, especially when I first started writing, having an outline was key. Once I knew *what* I wanted to write, it was a lot easier to sit down & do it. I use an outlining tool called Inspiration that I like ($30).
3. Turn off your email, your phone, and anything else distracting.

Get away from anything that distracts you. I put my phone on silent, log out of social media and email (those pings really get me), and put on soft music. Gets me in my groove.
4. Ignore your inner perfectionist.

During your writing time, don’t worry about grammar or making it perfect. That is what editing is for. I tell my students to name their 1st drafts (Shitty Draft_version 0) to take the pressure off them that the first draft has to be perfect.
5. Edit, Edit, Edit.

After you have a draft, check your flow & clarity. If you hesitate on a section, revise it. If you can’t understand what you were trying to say, no one else can either. I often revise a manuscript at least 3-5 times before I send to anyone else for review.
6. Get feedback.

I'm a firm believer that papers are improved by critical feedback from collaborators. My collaborators often have different expertise & provide important insights. I have never written a paper by myself and have no plans to (co-authors common in my field).
7. Consider creating a writing group.

If you don’t feel comfortable sending your paper to your collaborators or mentor(s) without additional feedback, consider creating a writing group with your peers. You can take turns reviewing each other’s work & it is beneficial for all.
8. Read, read, & read.

Read manuscripts in your field which will keep you up to date on literature & help you identify new ways to write. Also read outside of your field - books, magazines, & newspapers. Exposure to new ideas can spark creativity & new insights. I read a LOT!
I am not suggesting that these strategies work for everyone. I recognize we all have competing demands & others may have less resources & protected time. This is not an exhaustive list of what can work. I am sharing what has worked for me, in hopes that it can help someone else.
Importantly, I need to acknowledge that I did not write alone. I have an incredible team in the #CardelLabGroup that work incredibly hard and are very productive writers. I have the best collaborators who provide critical feedback. And I have benefited from exceptional mentoring.
I also want to add: persistence is key. Last year, I got a manuscript accepted at a really good journal after EIGHT submissions elsewhere. I also got one paper accepted with no revisions (!!!). Recently, I got 2 manuscript rejections in one day! The rollercoaster of academia 🤷🏽‍♀️
Someone responded and summarized #1 beautifully: Block, protect, and never surrender!
@TASA_AppliedSoc created a printable version of the tips if anyone would find that useful. The last one they added and it is excellent! Always be kind to yourself and give yourself grace. Especially now during these difficult times.

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More from @MichelleCardel

19 Aug
New pub alert: our qualitative paper identifying perceived barriers & facilitators to a healthy lifestyle & weight loss among a diverse group of teens with overweight & #obesity has been published.

A thread of our findings & lessons learned 👇🏾.
We conducted 10 focus groups with teens medically classified as having overweight or obesity (OW/OB).

41 teens
68% female
53.5% identify as Black, African American, Hispanic/LatinX, multiple races
Socioeconomically Diverse
All w BMI over 85th percentile for sex/age
We found that teen girls and teen boys described their lived experience with overweight/obesity (OW/OB) differently.

Girls shared that healthcare providers, family, & friends discussed weight w them & they felt weight loss was needed to meet societal and/or medical standards.
Read 14 tweets
15 Jul
As a result of #COVID19, academics are working from home, often while simultaneously caring for their children. As clinicians & scientists, @nataliexdean @DrDianaMW & I worry this will lead to a secondary epidemic of lost early career scientists, esp women w children. A thread👇🏾
We published just this paper highlighting the vulnerability early career scientists may face as a result of #COVID19, particularly women w children. We identified strategies academic institutions could implement to attenuate loss of early career faculty: atsjournals.org/doi/abs/10.151…
Prime reproductive years often overlap with early stage of scientific careers. Even before #COVID19, 43% of women (23% men) left full-time STEM employment after having their 1st child, loss rates that are significantly higher than faculty w/out children. pnas.org/content/116/10…
Read 27 tweets
25 Jun
Today, I finished my 4th @NIH study section (though first one via Zoom). I have learned so much through these experiences on what reviewers want, and more importantly, what they don’t want to see in grant applications.

A thread to improve your grantsmanship👇🏾

Justify, justify, justify. Provide rationale for why you choose the study design that you did. Even if the reviewers don’t necessarily agree with the route you chose, they are less likely to ding you for it if you provide a scientific rationale for *why* you choose it.
Be upfront about the limitations of your study design. There is no such thing as the perfect study. Recognize the limitations of the design you selected, identify potential problems that may arise, and be proactive in a section specifically addressing them.
Read 13 tweets
11 Feb
In honor of International #WomenInScienceDay
Turning Chutes into Ladders for Women Faculty: A Review and Roadmap for Equity in Academia

A Thread based on our newest publication : liebertpub.com/doi/10.1089/jw…
(1/16): Institutional interventions can increase awareness of and commitment to establishing gender equity in hiring.
(2/16): Between 1961 and 2008, women who received paid leave had a greater odds of returning to work within 3–5 months after the birth of their first child, compared with women who did not receive or use paid leave.
Read 17 tweets
13 Jan
#AcademicTwitter: I see overwhelming discussion on the downsides of academia. I worry what this does to the hope & inspiration of grad students with ambitions to go into academia. Given that I think #academia is the best job ever, my thoughts on life as an academic.

A thread 👇🏽
(1/11) Autonomy: As an academic (even without tenure), I feel like I have so much autonomy to pursue the scientific ideas that I find to be important. For someone who is internally motivated and feels passionate about certain areas of research, this is a priceless benefit.
(2/11) Never Ending Knowledge Gains: Every single day I go to work and learn new things. Every. Single. Day. The intellectual stimulation that I receive from my colleagues is such a gift. They push me and my science to be better. And I am so thankful.
Read 12 tweets
4 Oct 19
Academia is full of people “bragging” about working 100 hours/week and not sleeping. Hello, toxic culture! We should strive to improve our work/life balance, not brag about lack thereof. Here are my thoughts on how to improve and celebrate work/life balance.

👇🏽A thread (1/12):
Sleep (2/12): This is a key component to health and productivity that is often not prioritized. Our brains do intellectual jumping jacks all day, and we can't do that well if we are chronically tired. Remove electronics from the bedroom and get at least 7 hours or more per night.
Valued-Living (3/12): Think about what matters to you most. When you die, do you want people to talk about how many grants you got or how many papers you wrote? Or do you want them to talk about what kind of mom, husband, friend, philanthropist, son, sister, etc. that you were?
Read 12 tweets

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