On funding, peer review and adapting to the COVID-19 pandemic

It has been a busy start to the year on all fronts: as always, we have delivered workshops and supported researchers with papers and grant applications. And we are also in the midst of finalizing a project we have been working on for the past couple of years – we are excited to tell you more in spring. But for now, we – much as the rest of the world – need to adapt to the rapidly evolving COVID-19 pandemic.

The Elevate team

Trainings

We commenced this year by delivering three very appreciated workshops on grant writing, guiding around 100 researchers at Mid Sweden University, Lund University and Uppsala University. Many thanks to all organizers and the participants for making these workshops such a success!

“Dr. Dan Csontos from Elevate Scientific held a very appreciated workshop on how to write a successful grant application. Overall, it was a very well composed workshop that I would highly recommend to researchers at any level!”

– Nina Erkenstam, Research Advisor at the Mid Sweden University

Adapting to COVID-19

We had planned to deliver more workshops during the next few months. But given the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, we have discussed alternative solutions with our clients and agreed that we will either postpone the live workshops to a later date or deliver workshops in a webinar format.

Because of this, from March 30 we will offer our trainings on Scientific writing and publishing with impact and How to write successful grant applications in webinar form, to both old and new clients.

We have also decided on March 12 that our team will work remotely inasmuch possible, until further notice. We do this to minimize travel and contact with other people, and thereby contribute, in however small a manner, to ‘flattening the curve’ as a step towards mitigating the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic

Editorial

The application deadlines of many Swedish funders are in the January-to-April period, and we have supported many researchers with their applications to funders such as the Swedish Research Council and Formas. We have also helped with a couple of nomination letters for prestigious prizes, which highlights the range of assignments we are comfortable handling. We wish all applicants good luck and hoping for positive evaluations!

On funding and rude reviews

It is difficult to transform great research ideas into reality without funding. But applying for grants is time consuming and – given how competitive the process is – it can feel like a mountain too high to climb. That is where we come in. Read about common issues we have come across when supporting researchers and institutions over the years, and the framework we use to address these.

Rude and irrelevant comments from reviewers can lead to lasting consequences for those belonging to underrepresented groups. In a recent post, we call on journal editors to take a more active role to minimize the potentially adverse effects of such comments.

Noteworthy

Nature itself and some Nature research journals will publish peer review reports as a trial, according to an editorial in Nature in early February. We believe that this is a welcome move, not least given its potential to reduce the number of unprofessional reviews (see below).
A perspective piece published in January explores the important challenges facing the field of science communication and advocates for an evidence-based approach that “involves combining professional expertise and skills with the best available evidence from systematic research, underpinned by established theory.”
Mauro Ferrari, the new president of the European Research Council (ERC), has called on scientists to break down disciplinary barriers, proposing the adoption of super-disciplinary science instead, which he conceives of as an effective way to spawn scientific discovery and new fields of knowledge. Among his ideas are reconstituted, flexible panels for reviewing research proposals.