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Keep it Positive

Scientists can be critical people, especially as they are critiquing others' work, writes Prof-like Substance at the Spandrel Shop. "Critique pushes science forward (especially when it's of that other lab!) and keeps us thinking," he writes. "But everyone has spent time in that journal club or lab meeting where it seems like the sole purpose is to tear anything to shreds."

Prof-like Substance adds, though, that he is going to make a "concerted effort this month to dedicate roughly the same amount of text to both the 'Strengths' and 'Weaknesses' sections of my reviews."

In a separate critique-related post, Prof-like offers tips for those serving on review panels, advising panelists to get their reviews in early and to choose which proposals they want to fight for. Once panelists have submitted their reviews, they can read what others have written. By doing so, Prof-like says, panelists can get a sense of the "mood" of the group, by seeing whether reviews are generally positive or negative, and panelists can determine who they'll have to win over to fund their favorite proposals.

"Above all, remember that you are there to talk science and participate in the process of getting people funding. As a group you'll have to make some hard decisions and it's easy to walk out of one of these feeling a little depressed by the amount of good science that doesn't make the cut," Prof-like Substance notes. "But do what you can, learn what you can and get to know the other panelists — there's a decent chance they will be reviewing one of your grants some day."