December 16, 2019

A Holiday Gift from Medical Ethics & Health Policy: 13 Great Resources

By Steven Joffe, MD, MPH, Interim Chair, Department of Medical Ethics & Health Policy

As a parting gift to students and faculty as they depart for winter break, here is a list of some of my favorite guides to aspects of academic life, including sage advice and guidance on writing papers and grants.


1)         First up, a classic from Joe Simone, which has something for everyone from the most junior trainee to chairs and deans (and not just those who work in academic medicine): Understanding academic medical centers: Simone’s maxims.

2)     Next, another classic on academic politics, satirical but like all good satire with elements of truth (by Voltaire Cousteau, or if anyone knows who the real author was, do share): How to swim with sharks: a primer.

3)     Pure-gold reflections on life in academia from Robert J. Sternberg in The Chronicle of Higher Education: Career advice from an oldish not-quite geezer.


4)     A wonderful guide to writing scientific papers from Brett Mensh and Penn’s own Konrad Kording: Ten simple rules for structuring papers.

5)     More advice on writing papers, from master novelist Cormac McCarthy: Novelist Cormac McCarthy’s tips on how to write a great science paper.

6)     What not to do in writing a paper, from Peter Cummings and Fred Rivara in the precursor to JAMA Pediatrics: Spin and boasting in research articles.

7)     More great advice on paper writing, from Rita Gemayel: How to write a scientific paper.

8)     On writing editorials, from JAMA’s Executive Editor Phil Fontanarosa: Editorial matters: guidelines for writing effective editorials.


9)     Now on to grantwriting from Sharon K. Inouye and David A. Fiellinin in Annals of Internal Medicine: An evidence-based guide to writing grant proposals for clinical research.

10)  And more from Rita Gemayel and Seamus J. Martin: Writing a successful fellowship or grant application.


11)  Here’s David G. Drubin in Molecular Biology of the Cell on constructive peer review: Any jackass can trash a manuscript, but it takes good scholarship to create one (how MboC promotes civil and constructive peer review).

12)  Peter Cummings and Fred Rivara, again, from their perspective as editors of JAMA Pediatrics: Reviewing manuscripts for archives of pediatrics & adolescent medicine.

13)  And last, a favorite example of fierce but respectful peer review. This relates to a remarkable story broken by KHN News: Years before heading offshore, herpes researcher experimented on people in U.S.

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