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Logo for Dr Anna Clemens PhD who teaches scientific writing courses for researchers

Interview with Researchers’ Writing Academy Alumna Katia Canenguez, PhD

Interview with Researchers’ Writing Academy Alumna Katia Canenguez, PhD

Dr Katia Canenguez, Health Disparities researcher at Massachusetts General Hospital/Harvard Medical School, and I talk about why she loved the group calls so much and how the Journal Publication Formula helped her have a smooth experience writing her first two first-author papers.

Hey Katia! Please tell us a bit about you – what is your research about and where are you based? 

I am based at Harvard Medical School and the Massachusetts General Hospital in the US. My research is at the intersection of health, mental health and education. My focus is on health/mental health disparities and equity. The question I want to answer is how we can promote better health and mental health outcomes for diverse populations such as Latino populations. 

Such an important topic! You joined us in the Researchers’ Writing Academy almost 12 months ago. How did you approach writing papers a year ago? 

I focused on clinical work for several years and it was difficult to find time to write. Last year I was the recipient of the inaugural Health Equity Scholars award (Anna’s note: Congrats, Katia!) which has allowed me to focus more on research and writing. Because of this opportunity, I was able to be the lead author of a couple of papers for the first time ever. 

That was a new experience for me. There were several questions I asked myself like: How do I collaborate with others? How do I create an outline that’s clear to make sure that everyone in the team is on the same page about what the paper is going to be about? How do I present findings in a way that it provides meaningful information to members of both our research community and those individuals that are implementing changes to policy?

I wanted to work on being succinct and to clearly communicate findings on the research areas that I would like to speak about. I have so many ideas that it easily becomes overwhelming to write a paper. There were times I would get stuck because of my own perfectionism and because I was doubting myself. 

How do you feel about your writing now that you joined the Researchers’ Writing Academy?

I have so many ideas that it easily becomes overwhelming to write a paper.

First of all, I have to say, I absolutely love, love the course. You gave me a formula that really makes sense. And the way you led us through the Modules, teaching one piece of the process at a time was so helpful, from introduction to discussion. The material was accessible, and the examples and exercises provided in each module really helped me with the writing process.

I used to write really long Introduction sections, a lot longer than needed. Now I feel more comfortable writing an introduction that is succinct and to the point. Another part of the formula that made a lot of sense to me is the approach of structuring a research paper by beginning with a broad problem at first and then getting more focused on the problem that will be addressed in the current manuscript. 

Being a member of the Researchers’ Writing Academy really reduced my angst about the writing and publishing experience. I felt supported! I felt more confident about saying to the research team: “Let’s do it this way!” and writing a paper suddenly didn’t feel as daunting anymore. It really felt manageable.

Graphic promoting a free scientific writing class for researchers

That’s great to hear! How was the experience of being the lead author of two papers for the first time and how did you collaborate with your team?

Whenever any of my co-authors would suggest adding this or that, I would go back to the Journal Publication Formula and remind myself what our goal was for the paper and what we were going to focus on. That helped me so much! I would remind the team of our outline and as a friendly reminder would say: “This is what we agreed we were going to work on, so when other ideas come up, let’s write them down for our next paper.” And you know what? My co-authors thanked me for bringing us back to the point of the paper we were working on.

First of all, I have to say, I absolutely love, love the course. You gave me a formula that really makes sense.

By the way, I felt really confident making these statements. In the Researchers’ Writing Academy I learned about how to create a good story outline, both through the modules and during group calls. It was so helpful to hear how other Academy members organized their manuscripts. 

Whenever I started to doubt myself, I would tell myself: “Just stick to the formula. Stick to the formula.” 

And in the moments when I still needed help, I would ask for feedback from the writing community. It was so comforting to know that when I reached out for feedback, I would get the feedback I needed. It really felt like a community. It’s interesting because group members are from all over the world and I felt so comfortable asking the group members for feedback. I think that it’s so incredibly important to have a writing community. I didn’t think such an experience was possible! 

All I can do is rave about the program, because being a member of the Researchers’ Writing Academy was such a wonderful experience! Especially as someone who needed guidance and a supportive environment. 

When you first joined the Researchers’ Writing Academy, what was your first step? 

Well, the very first step was to find the time to sit down and actually learn. I think we sometimes get so caught up in the work in front of us, we forget about the importance of continued learning. So, in the beginning, I would put it in my calendar to watch the course lessons. But something would come up and I would end up not following through. 

Being a member of the Researchers’ Writing Academy really reduced my angst about the writing and publishing experience

But a few weeks in, I told myself I needed to commit. I found the group calls especially helpful and encouraging when it came to committing. I would hear other group members share how they were committing to the process, which inspired me to as well.  So I shifted my approach and would tell myself: “This is the time you allotted to focus on the course. You need to commit.” And I did. And I’m so glad I did. Sometimes I would watch more modules than what I had planned for. Once I started, I didn’t want to stop. 

I’m so curious, what happened to the papers you worked on? 

Writing a paper suddenly didn’t feel as daunting anymore. It really felt manageable.

During my time in the Academy I worked on two first-author papers using the Journal Publication Formula. One of them was recently published! This is my first ever original research first-author paper and it was accepted! 

Graphic inviting scientist to register for our free interactive writing training

Congratulations, Katia! What was your favorite part of the program? 

Having a writing community and learning the Journal Publication Formula. It was helpful to have the opportunity to get and give writing feedback. I really enjoyed participating in the group coaching calls. I learned a great deal during our calls, especially when you coached others through the process of defining the story they wanted to tell with their paper. I truly appreciated being able to think through the writing process. For example, you would ask something like “How can we say this differently?”, and everyone in the group would be invited to share their thoughts. This process allowed me to reflect on how I might also change a sentence or a paragraph in my own manuscript. The group calls were not only productive, they made the writing process real for me. 

Whenever I started to doubt myself, I would tell myself: “Just stick to the formula. Stick to the formula.”

The group calls also motivated me to first focus on defining the story my team and I would want to tell with our paper. There were times where I would feel the pressure to just start writing. But in the long run, it really does save you a lot of work when you actually define the story of your paper first. And I really enjoyed the community component of this Researchers’ Writing Academy. 

I adore our group coaching calls as well! The creative atmosphere in those is magic. Getting to the bottom of a paper’s story is such a rewarding process.

Who would you recommend the Researchers’ Writing Academy to? 

Anybody who is engaged in any component of writing at all, whether lead or support. Because I can tell you this, nobody has ever given me a formula. It’s always been: “Here’s some data, let’s go write a paper on it!” And I have been looking for this type of writing guidance.

I think that it’s so incredibly important to have a writing community. I didn’t think such an experience was possible!

I knew there had to be an organized way, a methodical way to approach the paper writing process. And I wanted to learn such a process, to learn the habits that will allow me to become an efficient and strong writer.  I think that anyone at any stage will really benefit from this program!

And what would you say to someone who couldn’t decide whether or not to join the program? What objections did you have before you joined?

The group calls were not only productive, they made the writing process real for me.

I would say absolutely join! I was concerned about how engaged I would feel.  I was concerned I would sign up and then not really participate. But I have to say that after watching the first module, I was hooked! You provide so many helpful resources and examples in the modules. I found myself really engaged. 

Your (Anna’s) approach is just so wonderful and inviting. Your approach helps take the tension and the stress from the paper writing process, which consistently feels high stakes. Your approach reminded me to reflect on the purpose of our publications, which is to share valuable knowledge. This allowed me to have a different experience with the writing and publication process. 

In addition, you get support when you are stuck. It’s so comforting to know you have a community here. It was reassuring to know that I would always have support. I’m going to miss having this community! 

We are going to miss you too, Katia! 

I consider myself fortunate to have learned about the Researchers’ Writing Academy.  I strongly believe that folks will not regret joining! I want to take this opportunity to thank you, Anna. I don’t know how you became involved in this work but I’m so glad you did. 

I think that anyone at any stage will really benefit from this program!

That really warms my heart, thank you! And thank you for taking the time to talk to me. It’s been a pleasure to support you with your publications in the Researchers’ Writing Academy. 

Anna talked to Researchers’ Writing Academy member Katia Canenguez, PhD. She is a Health Disparities researcher at Harvard/MGH Center on Genomics, Vulnerable Populations and Health Disparities, and a Pediatric Psychologist at Massachusetts General Hospital/Harvard Medical School. 

Mockup of the free interactive writing training for researchers

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Interview with Researchers’ Writing Academy Alumna Katia Canenguez, PhD

Dr Katia Canenguez, Health Disparities researcher at Massachusetts General Hospital/Harvard Medical School, and I talk about why she loved the group calls so much and how the Journal Publication Formula helped her have a smooth experience writing her first two first-author papers.

Hey Katia! Please tell us a bit about you – what is your research about and where are you based? 

I am based at Harvard Medical School and the Massachusetts General Hospital in the US. My research is at the intersection of health, mental health and education. My focus is on health/mental health disparities and equity. The question I want to answer is how we can promote better health and mental health outcomes for diverse populations such as Latino populations. 

Such an important topic! You joined us in the Researchers’ Writing Academy almost 12 months ago. How did you approach writing papers a year ago? 

I focused on clinical work for several years and it was difficult to find time to write. Last year I was the recipient of the inaugural Health Equity Scholars award (Anna’s note: Congrats, Katia!) which has allowed me to focus more on research and writing. Because of this opportunity, I was able to be the lead author of a couple of papers for the first time ever. 

That was a new experience for me. There were several questions I asked myself like: How do I collaborate with others? How do I create an outline that’s clear to make sure that everyone in the team is on the same page about what the paper is going to be about? How do I present findings in a way that it provides meaningful information to members of both our research community and those individuals that are implementing changes to policy?

I wanted to work on being succinct and to clearly communicate findings on the research areas that I would like to speak about. I have so many ideas that it easily becomes overwhelming to write a paper. There were times I would get stuck because of my own perfectionism and because I was doubting myself. 

How do you feel about your writing now that you joined the Researchers’ Writing Academy?

I have so many ideas that it easily becomes overwhelming to write a paper.

First of all, I have to say, I absolutely love, love the course. You gave me a formula that really makes sense. And the way you led us through the Modules, teaching one piece of the process at a time was so helpful, from introduction to discussion. The material was accessible, and the examples and exercises provided in each module really helped me with the writing process.

I used to write really long Introduction sections, a lot longer than needed. Now I feel more comfortable writing an introduction that is succinct and to the point. Another part of the formula that made a lot of sense to me is the approach of structuring a research paper by beginning with a broad problem at first and then getting more focused on the problem that will be addressed in the current manuscript. 

Being a member of the Researchers’ Writing Academy really reduced my angst about the writing and publishing experience. I felt supported! I felt more confident about saying to the research team: “Let’s do it this way!” and writing a paper suddenly didn’t feel as daunting anymore. It really felt manageable.

Graphic promoting a free scientific writing class for researchers

That’s great to hear! How was the experience of being the lead author of two papers for the first time and how did you collaborate with your team?

Whenever any of my co-authors would suggest adding this or that, I would go back to the Journal Publication Formula and remind myself what our goal was for the paper and what we were going to focus on. That helped me so much! I would remind the team of our outline and as a friendly reminder would say: “This is what we agreed we were going to work on, so when other ideas come up, let’s write them down for our next paper.” And you know what? My co-authors thanked me for bringing us back to the point of the paper we were working on.

First of all, I have to say, I absolutely love, love the course. You gave me a formula that really makes sense.

By the way, I felt really confident making these statements. In the Researchers’ Writing Academy I learned about how to create a good story outline, both through the modules and during group calls. It was so helpful to hear how other Academy members organized their manuscripts. 

Whenever I started to doubt myself, I would tell myself: “Just stick to the formula. Stick to the formula.” 

And in the moments when I still needed help, I would ask for feedback from the writing community. It was so comforting to know that when I reached out for feedback, I would get the feedback I needed. It really felt like a community. It’s interesting because group members are from all over the world and I felt so comfortable asking the group members for feedback. I think that it’s so incredibly important to have a writing community. I didn’t think such an experience was possible! 

All I can do is rave about the program, because being a member of the Researchers’ Writing Academy was such a wonderful experience! Especially as someone who needed guidance and a supportive environment. 

When you first joined the Researchers’ Writing Academy, what was your first step? 

Well, the very first step was to find the time to sit down and actually learn. I think we sometimes get so caught up in the work in front of us, we forget about the importance of continued learning. So, in the beginning, I would put it in my calendar to watch the course lessons. But something would come up and I would end up not following through. 

Being a member of the Researchers’ Writing Academy really reduced my angst about the writing and publishing experience

But a few weeks in, I told myself I needed to commit. I found the group calls especially helpful and encouraging when it came to committing. I would hear other group members share how they were committing to the process, which inspired me to as well.  So I shifted my approach and would tell myself: “This is the time you allotted to focus on the course. You need to commit.” And I did. And I’m so glad I did. Sometimes I would watch more modules than what I had planned for. Once I started, I didn’t want to stop. 

I’m so curious, what happened to the papers you worked on? 

Writing a paper suddenly didn’t feel as daunting anymore. It really felt manageable.

During my time in the Academy I worked on two first-author papers using the Journal Publication Formula. One of them was recently published! This is my first ever original research first-author paper and it was accepted! 

Graphic inviting scientist to register for our free interactive writing training

Congratulations, Katia! What was your favorite part of the program? 

Having a writing community and learning the Journal Publication Formula. It was helpful to have the opportunity to get and give writing feedback. I really enjoyed participating in the group coaching calls. I learned a great deal during our calls, especially when you coached others through the process of defining the story they wanted to tell with their paper. I truly appreciated being able to think through the writing process. For example, you would ask something like “How can we say this differently?”, and everyone in the group would be invited to share their thoughts. This process allowed me to reflect on how I might also change a sentence or a paragraph in my own manuscript. The group calls were not only productive, they made the writing process real for me. 

Whenever I started to doubt myself, I would tell myself: “Just stick to the formula. Stick to the formula.”

The group calls also motivated me to first focus on defining the story my team and I would want to tell with our paper. There were times where I would feel the pressure to just start writing. But in the long run, it really does save you a lot of work when you actually define the story of your paper first. And I really enjoyed the community component of this Researchers’ Writing Academy. 

I adore our group coaching calls as well! The creative atmosphere in those is magic. Getting to the bottom of a paper’s story is such a rewarding process.

Who would you recommend the Researchers’ Writing Academy to? 

Anybody who is engaged in any component of writing at all, whether lead or support. Because I can tell you this, nobody has ever given me a formula. It’s always been: “Here’s some data, let’s go write a paper on it!” And I have been looking for this type of writing guidance.

I think that it’s so incredibly important to have a writing community. I didn’t think such an experience was possible!

I knew there had to be an organized way, a methodical way to approach the paper writing process. And I wanted to learn such a process, to learn the habits that will allow me to become an efficient and strong writer.  I think that anyone at any stage will really benefit from this program!

And what would you say to someone who couldn’t decide whether or not to join the program? What objections did you have before you joined?

The group calls were not only productive, they made the writing process real for me.

I would say absolutely join! I was concerned about how engaged I would feel.  I was concerned I would sign up and then not really participate. But I have to say that after watching the first module, I was hooked! You provide so many helpful resources and examples in the modules. I found myself really engaged. 

Your (Anna’s) approach is just so wonderful and inviting. Your approach helps take the tension and the stress from the paper writing process, which consistently feels high stakes. Your approach reminded me to reflect on the purpose of our publications, which is to share valuable knowledge. This allowed me to have a different experience with the writing and publication process. 

In addition, you get support when you are stuck. It’s so comforting to know you have a community here. It was reassuring to know that I would always have support. I’m going to miss having this community! 

We are going to miss you too, Katia! 

I consider myself fortunate to have learned about the Researchers’ Writing Academy.  I strongly believe that folks will not regret joining! I want to take this opportunity to thank you, Anna. I don’t know how you became involved in this work but I’m so glad you did. 

I think that anyone at any stage will really benefit from this program!

That really warms my heart, thank you! And thank you for taking the time to talk to me. It’s been a pleasure to support you with your publications in the Researchers’ Writing Academy. 

Anna talked to Researchers’ Writing Academy member Katia Canenguez, PhD. She is a Health Disparities researcher at Harvard/MGH Center on Genomics, Vulnerable Populations and Health Disparities, and a Pediatric Psychologist at Massachusetts General Hospital/Harvard Medical School. 

Mockup of the free interactive writing training for researchers

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Photography by Alice Dix