The first in the Focus Series on Global Science Education, The Whys of a Scientific Life examines why scientists do what they do. Working from a diverse background in scientific research, including academic departments of physics and chemistry, as well as the scientific civil service, the author describes the choices scientists make. Fundamentally, a scientist asks questions based on curiosity. In addition, the environment is very important. By influencing their elected governments, society itself shapes the scientific research that is undertaken by scientists. This book follows on naturally from the author’s last book, Skills for a Scientific Life, which is a how-to guide for scientists and those that aspire to engage in science as a career.
Table of Contents
- Introduction to ‘Because’
- Because we ask a question
- Because we make a hypothesis
- Because we wish to make a collection
- Because of ‘What happens if?’
- Because one thing leads to another
- Because we get criticized
- Because we referee other scientists
- Because something unexpected happens
- Because sometimes we have to interrupt a line of research investigation
- Because we want to tackle adventurous research
- Because of technology push
- Because we wish to engage in a grand challenge or mission led research objective
- Because we wish to develop our skills for a better future
- Because we wish to reach to an end point
- Because we like finding things out ‘at the science bench’
- Why do scientists confer so much?
- Why do scientists submit their research to a journal?
- Because we can expand the scope of research with ‘Open Science’ bringing an improved future for Society
- Because a new or improved product is needed via industrial research
- Importance of the ‘Whys of a scientific life’ for society
- Why is science objective?
- Why is Science a joy to do?
Part I: Fundamental science
Part II: The role of technology
Part III: The wider research and work environment
Part IV: The scientist’s inner self
Part V: Communication of science
Part VI: Science and society
Part VII Fundamentals revisited
Because of data and peer review.
John R. Helliwell is Emeritus Professor of Chemistry at the University of Manchester. He was awarded a DSc degree in physics from the University of York in 1996. He was Director of Synchrotron Radiation Science at the Council for the Central Laboratories of the Research Councils (CCLRC). He has served as President of the European Crystallographic Association (ECA). He is a Fellow of the Institute of Physics, the Royal Society of Chemistry, the Royal Society of Biology, and the American Crystallographic Association. In 1997, he was made an Honorary Member of the National Institute of Chemistry, Slovenia. He was elected a corresponding member of the Royal Academy of Sciences and Arts of Barcelona, Spain, in 2015. He was made an Honorary Member of the British Biophysical Society in 2017. He was the Kathleen Lonsdale Lecturer of the British Crystallographic Association in 2011, the Patterson Prize Awardee of the American Crystallographic Association in 2014, and the Max Perutz Prize Awardee of the European Crystallographic Association in 2015. He is the International Union of Crystallography Representative at the International Council for Science Committee on Data. He has published more than 200 research publications and two research monographs.
Thus, to readers who are passionate about their research, this book provides a very appropriate perspective and a systematic approach to many relevant questions, directly related to the conscious choice of pursuing a scientific life. It was a pleasure to read and provides clear answers to many a `Why' associated with scientific research across disciplines.
The author in my view provides a well thought-through `rough guide' to be considered by many a scientist. It should be shared with colleagues, students, and even people in the street, general society, management entities, and decision makers of higher academic institutions and in government: specifically, with those who so often query with variable modes and emphasis `Why is scientific research (really) necessary?'
- Andreas Roodt, Journal of Applied Crystallography, 52, 2019
This is an enjoyable book that provides a unique perspective of a mentor in the field of academic science. The author's passion for science is evident throughout.
-Chery Thompson, Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine
Many of the issues are illustrated and, in turn illuminated, by way of well-chosen case examples often involving the good and great (Darwin, Einstein, Fleming, Watson and Crick) and also including many from John Helliwell’s own research; this is a highly commendable feature of the book.
- Paul Barnes (2019): The Whys of a Scientific Life, Crystallography Reviews, DOI:10.1080/0889311X.2019.1624315