Chapter 13:  Mentoring Young Faculty in Research Flexibility and Writing Skills

Chapter 13: Mentoring Young Faculty in Research Flexibility and Writing Skills



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In this chapter, Dr. Alexanian explains how he would advise young faculty to be flexible in their research and pace their careers, taking advantage of existing resources whenever possible. He notes the importance of mentoring to careers. He also stresses the importance of writing skills to a research career.



Publication Date



The Making Cancer History® Voices Oral History Collection, The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center


Houston, Texas

Topics Covered

The Interview Subject's Story - The Educator; The Mentor; Mentoring; On Research and Researchers

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.


History of Science, Technology, and Medicine | Oncology | Oral History


Raymond Alexanian, MD

And one of the issues, somebody can say, “Well, I can’t do any research because we can’t do this special test here.”

And I’d say, “How can you say that? You don’t have to do that particular new thing. How about these other things as a young person you could develop that’s already here? Don’t look for something that might not come here for five years. You have your own career to develop. You need to get some papers written. Why don’t you do with what you have first as you simultaneously work on getting the other things for five years?” So there’s a kind of a—you have to in some ways inspire people to look to your career, make your discoveries with what you have as rapidly as you can, get a name for yourself gradually, and then if you have some—I guess what I’m saying is get your singles and doubles in as a young person and then get the home run when you’re a little bit on more secure ground and have everything.

Tacey Ann Rosolowski, PhD

Interesting, yeah, a strategic plan for a career.

Raymond Alexanian, MD

Yeah. That’s why many people get discouraged too easily because they’re not—I don’t think some of them may not be led in the way that I would do. And also another painful thing is that many people, when they have a finding, made an observation, I say, “You’ve got to have this presented at a meeting and have a paper, write it up,” they’ll say, “Oh, I don’t know how to write. I’m too lazy to write. I can’t do this and that and so on.”

I say, “Never mind. I want to see a draft next month summarize this, this, this,” and next month comes and very little is done. “Look, I’m serious. I want something in writing. This is your job,” and blah, blah, blah, blah. You have to work with young people in terms of writing. Writing comes hard. Even Ernest Hemingway took weeks to write; it didn’t come in an hour. You have to work at things. So writing is one of the important aspects that I have a focus on. I think it’s important to get it right, get the draft written, get it accepted, and even then when you submit a paper, it’s not the end of it. You get critiques. You have to do some things over again and so on. You have to work hard with the system. And too little of that is done now. There’s a certain laziness, I call it, to writing, even though the observations are there, and very little happens. Then what do you find? You open the journal, then you find, oh, Mayo Clinic just wrote the same thing that you had all the data on for two or three years, and there it is.

Tacey Ann Rosolowski, PhD

Yeah, the missed opportunity.

Raymond Alexanian, MD

And it’s gone.

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Chapter 13:  Mentoring Young Faculty in Research Flexibility and Writing Skills