Empathy in Scientific Communication: Why it matters and how to develop this skill for better papers and grants

Publishing your science or getting a proposal funded requires others to be convinced that your ideas are important. However, all too often, papers and proposals are rejected because the reviewers either did not agree with your conclusions, or were not convinced of their value. This presentation explores such “communication failures” and links these to a failure of the writer to empathize with the reader’s point of view.

Dr. Duncan is a Professor of Biological Sciences at the University of Delaware. She has authored over 85 papers and her research on the mechanisms underlying congenital eye diseases and the side effects of cataract surgery has been continuously funded by the NIH since 1998. She has served on numerous NIH grant review panels and is currently an associate editor for the journal Investigative Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences and serves on the editorial boards of PLOS one and Molecular Vision. She directed graduate programs in Biological Sciences at UD for 11 years and is currently a member of the mentoring core for the Delaware-MUSC Center for Translational Research specializing in grantsmanship training.

The Innovative Discoveries Series, sponsored by the Delaware Clinical & Translational Science ACCEL program and the Christiana Care Value Institute, features informal presentations on topics relevant to current research and healthcare practice, led by knowledgeable and experienced presenters. There are offerings for researchers, healthcare providers, and community members of varying levels of experience.

These free talks are held Fridays at noon at Christiana Hospital but can be viewed from your home or office computer. Earn CMEs by participating in-person or online. Lunch is served and all are welcome to attend.

To see the full calendar of events, visit the Value Institute Events page or the ACCEL website, or subscribe to the ID Series mailing list.

Contact Sarahfaye Dolman at sarahfaye.f.dolman@christianacare.org with any questions.


  • Melinda K. Duncan, PhD, FARVO