NORDP 2020 Conference Notes: Scientists in Research Development: Turning Ideas into Compelling Proposals

Over the next several weeks, we will share notes from select NORDP 2020 virtual presentations. Check out the learning management system for details on all of the NORDP 2020 available presentations:

  1. Login with your NORDP member info.
  2. Select the session you are interested in viewing.
  3. Go to the Session Materials box and click on Materials which will take you to the presentation video and slides. 
  4. The session will also appear in your personal course list for future viewing.


  • Justin Flory – The Biodesign Institute, Arizona State University
  • Deborah Frank – Washington University School of Medicine
  • Samarpita Sengupta – University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center
  • Jessica Moon – Stanford University

Thanks to our session scribe, Daniel Campbell, Old Dominion University!

Key points from the session 

A RD scientist can leverage their own experiences by providing tailored education programs, personalized courses, and effective training for faculty investigators to communicate their research to the community at large.

Scientists in RD can help faculty develop a strong research question by deciding whether it is an important one to answer, if it feasible to answer, and to critically read the literature.

RD scientists can help raise potential reviewer criticisms, suggest alternative experiments, suggest controls, and evaluate data analysis plans.

In multidisciplinary proposals a RD scientist can serve as an extension of the PI that will allow them to focus their expertise. They also act as the common denominator to facilitate a multi-disciplinary team and help interconnect the science.

Scientists transitioning to RD face several challenges such as, imposter syndrome, understanding the institutional structure, and expanding the breadth of their editing beyond their core discipline.

What did you hear at this presentation that surprised you?

The imposter syndrome is a challenge faced by many folks who come from the postdoc world and who are now tasked with providing guidance to faculty who used to be their superiors in the higher ed hierarchy.

What was the most interesting question asked by an audience member?

Question – What motivates you and keeps you going in this field?

Answer – Seeing how many proposals are not funded and in many cases it is due to ineffective communication. Faculty have many great ideas & skills and we can help them with the communication element in our dual roles as scientists and skilled communicators.

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