1st Edition

Scientific Research as a Career

By Finlay MacRitchie Copyright 2011
    132 Pages
    by CRC Press

    132 Pages
    by CRC Press

    Describing the philosophy of the scientific method and the training and professional characteristics needed for a successful career, Scientific Research as a Career is a comprehensive "how-to" guide for the aspiring scientist. Based on the author’s experience both as a scientist in a research organization and as a university mentor, the book covers:

    • The interaction between management and leadership principles and scientific research
    • Qualifications and attributes usually required to become a successful researcher
    • History, application, and prerequisites of the scientific method and scientific progress
    • Exploration of the careers of pivotal and influential scientists

    The author highlights the importance of networking and the value of forming contacts with colleagues, joining scientific associations, attending conferences, making presentations, and acting as chairs for conference sessions. He also touches on the many areas outside of "the science" that readers are likely to encounter during their career, such as mentoring, supervising research students, and managing a group. The book clearly delineates not only the challenges currently facing scientists, but also how to overcome them and achieve success in their careers.

    Motivation and Requisites for a Research Career
    Early Interest and a Simple Research Problem
    Importance of Combining Study with Experimentation

    Scientific Training and Personal Development
    University Qualifications
    Bachelor’s, Master’s, and Doctoral Degrees
    Research Ph.D. versus Combined Research and Course Work
    Imaginative and Regimented Thinking
    The Ph.D. Preliminary Examination
    Research versus Collecting Data
    Oral and Written Examinations
    Limitations of Statistics
    Accuracy: Are the Results What Are Intended to Be Measured?
    Where to after Graduation?
    Main Areas for Employment of Science Graduates
    Internships as a Precursor to Employment
    Networking, Joining Associations, Conference Presentations

    The Scientific Method
    The Scientific Method, Empiricism, Induction
    Karl Popper: Analysis of Early 20th Century Theories
    Demarcation: A Criterion to Distinguish between Scienceand Nonscience
    Myths as Precursors of Scientific Hypotheses
    Exploratory Work Preceding Hypotheses
    Growth of Scientific Knowledge
    Dangers to Growth: Lack of Motivation for Inquiry, Misplaced Faith in Precision, Authoritarianism
    How Scientific Research Can Be Put Off Track Deliberately
    How Scientific Research Can Be Put Off Track Unintentionally

    Attributes Required by Research Scientists
    Citations as a Criterion for Research Value
    Conceptual Thought Required to Form Hypotheses
    Ethical Standards—Plagiarism
    Service: Peer Reviewing
    Service: Serving on Awards Committees

    The Impact of Managerialism
    The Managerial Ideology
    Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research
    Organization (CSIRO) of Australia
    Reviews of CSIRO
    Effects of McKinsey Review
    Freedom of Expression in Science
    A False Premise
    Performance Criteria for Scientists
    Influence of Managerialism on Scientists
    The Risks of Corrupt Practices
    Coping with Effects of Managerial Stress

    Leadership in Science
    Supervision of Research Students
    Qualities Needed to Lead Scientific Research
    Servant Leadership
    The Inverted Pyramid
    The Future

    Insights from Notable Scientists
    Marie Curie (1867–1934)
    Charles Darwin (1809–1882)
    Albert Einstein (1879–1955)
    Rosalind Franklin (1920–1958)
    Galileo Galilei (1564–1642)
    Dorothy Hodgkin (1910–1994)
    Irving Langmuir (1881–1957)
    Lise Meitner (1878–1968)
    Gregor Mendel (1822–1884)
    Louis Pasteur (1822–1895)
    Nikola Tesla (1856–1943)

    Future Challenges for Scientific Research
    Two Areas for Change in Direction
    Why Are Humans the Only Species to Have Progressed Culturally?
    Why Present Funding Procedures for Research Are Unsatisfactory
    Stifling of Creativity in Science Can Stunt Future Economic Growth
    Suppression of Freedom Causes Stagnation of Knowledge
    The Need for a Change in the Working Environment for Research


    Finlay MacRitchie

    MacRitchie shows how much struggle and effort is necessary to carry out a scientific career, including the necessary of dedication in studies and work, the difficulty in finding food ideas for research projects, the care in supervision of students, but above all the importance of dealing with people. This is an important aspect that demands considerable self-preparation and is not very often addressed in the education of Ph.D. students, since it requires experience rather than explanations. The author’s personal experiences are given as examples of how a scientific career requires stamina, determination, and also wisdom. In this sense, the book is provocative. It is definitively worth reading by both those intending to get information on how to proceed into a scientific path and established scientists who consider that their work is a bit more than just getting good publications.
    —Roberto G. S. Berlinck, Univerisdade de São Paulo, Brazil, in Journal of Natural Products, 2012

    This book provides an interesting, unique approach to research careers in the sciences. MacRitchie (emer.. Kansas State Univ.) does not just describe preparing for and attaining jobs but also includes provocative descriptions and opinions about hindrances to careers, especially the effects of research management. He discusses the motivation and breadth of knowledge needed and the value of critical thinking. The author also addresses the differences in graduate training in the sciences, the scientific method, science versus nonscience, dead-end hypotheses, and required attributes of scientists. … MacRitchie provides career advice in a Dilbert-like style, and the chapters on management and leadership abound with horror/war stories of bad research management. Describing the pitfalls as well as the glories of scientific research is admirable, and anyone contemplating a scientific research career will benefit from reading this work. It is also useful for those influencing management and public policy in the sciences. Summing Up: Recommended.
    — CHOICE Magazine, APril 2012

    "This will be a very important resource for beginning scientists especially so that they can see what the field is like, especially this all important topic of how to build prestige and a track record for excellence."
    —John D 'Angelo, Alfred University, New York