Scientific Research as a Career  book cover
1st Edition

Scientific Research as a Career

ISBN 9781439869659
Published June 22, 2011 by CRC Press
132 Pages

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Book Description

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.

Table of Contents

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

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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