The Art of Being a Scientist

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1 The Art of Being a Scientist This is a hands-on guide for graduate students and other young researchers wishing to perfect the practical skills that are needed for a successful career in research. By teaching junior scientists to develop effective research habits, the book helps make the experience of graduate study a more efficient, effective, and rewarding one. Many graduate students learn these skills on the job, often by doing them poorly at first, with the result that much valuable time can be lost: this book will help prevent that. The authors have taught a graduate course on the topics covered in this book for many years, and provide a sample curriculum for instructors in graduate schools who wish to teach a similar course. Topics covered include: how to choose your research topic, department, and adviser how to make a workplan the ethics of research how to use the scientific literature how to perfect your oral and written communication how best to publish papers how to write proposals how to manage your time effectively how to plan your scientific career and apply for jobs in research and industry The wealth of advice offered in this book is invaluable to students, junior researchers, and their mentors in all fields of science, engineering, and the humanities.

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3 The Art of Being a Scientist A Guide for Graduate Students roel snieder and ken larner Department of Geophysics and Center for Wave Phenomena Colorado School of Mines, Golden, CO 80401, USA

4 University Printing House, Cambridge CB2 8BS, United Kingdom Cambridge University Press is part of the University of Cambridge. It furthers the University s mission by disseminating knowledge in the pursuit of education, learning and research at the highest international levels of excellence. Information on this title: / R. Snieder and K. Larner 2009 This publication is in copyright. Subject to statutory exception and to the provisions of relevant collective licensing agreements, no reproduction of any part may take place without the written permission of Cambridge University Press. First published th printing 2015 Printed in the United States of America by Sheridan Books, Inc. A catalog record for this publication is available from the British Library ISBN Paperback Cambridge University Press has no responsibility for the persistence or accuracy of URLs for external or third-party internet websites referred to in this publication, and does not guarantee that any content on such websites is, or will remain, accurate or appropriate.

5 In memory of Rodney Calvert, a gentleman whose inquisitive nature, contagious enthusiasm, and caring attitude manifested the art of science in both his personal and professional life.

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7 Contents 1 Introduction page 1 2 What is science? Deduction versus induction Reductionism and wholism Why science is hard...and what makes it an art Many ways to practice science Why would you want to be a scientist? Who is doing science? 26 3 Choices, choices, choices General considerations Choosing a university and department Choosing an adviser Choosing a project How do you fit into the picture? A checklist with questions 51 4 The adviser and thesis committee Different styles of advising The thesis committee 62 5 Questions drive research The need to ask questions Order and prioritize questions Turning questions into a workplan 77

8 viii contents 6 Giving direction to our work Set goals Five steps to take in working toward your goals What is your greatest resource? Being goal-oriented or process-oriented More than goals and process is meaning in our work 91 7 Turning challenges into opportunities Being confused because of lack of direction Being confused because you don t understand something Simplify first Identify mistakes quickly Serendipity and playfulness Being stuck Getting the right answer for the wrong reason Keep two types of notes Ethics of research Respect the property of others Be honest Stand up for your scientific integrity Disagree respectfully Authorship issues Interacting with other players Ethics of the content of research Using the scientific literature Doing a literature search Keeping up with the literature Making a database of references Communication Why communicate? Communication is difficult 148

9 contents ix 10.3 Written communication Oral presentations The scientific conference Concluding note: you, the audience Publishing a paper Before you start writing Submission and review After publication Time management Setting priorities Using time effectively Writing proposals Who funds research? The core content of a proposal The other parts of a proposal Writing and submitting the proposal The scientific career The academic career Comparison with the industrial career Switching fields: benefits and pitfalls As you take on more responsibilities Gender issues Closing words Applying for a job Be informed The application letter and resumé The interview visit Negotiate! Before signing a contract in industry 250

10 x contents 16 Concluding remarks Create your own luck Life is a boomerang Think of and be a role model Trust and commitment 258 Appendix A Further reading 261 Appendix B A sample curriculum 265 Appendix C The Refer and BibTeX format 273 References 276 About the authors 280 Index 282

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