How to do well during one’s post-doctoral training

The Scientist has published some advice for training post-docs. More emphasis needs to be placed on what a career in science entails. Often, the key motivation in doing science is that experiments are  fun. However, that isn’t doing science.

Being a scientist means: looking for gaps in existing literature, stringing together theses gaps to build a research program (i.e. grant proposal), write grant proposals, manage money, manage time, learn to interact with colleagues, build working relationships (or at least acquaint and introduce oneself) with researchers outside lab, expose oneself to science (be selective!), do the bench work, and analyze data.

If you are a graduate student, then your job is to turn data into figures. Doing so will train you to think about how best to communicate a finding. I would argue that, even if you have an “n of 1”, you should start making the graphs, tables, curves, and so on. Have the framework in place to receive data.

This is the corollary to displaying your hypothesis in a prominent location and thinking if it needs to reworking.

Essentially, focus on telling people what you are doing, why, and what you have found so far.

In doing this, you will naturally look into literature to fill in gaps in your knowledge and also to find novel experiments to try.

This set of observations is not meant to be authoritative. It is simply something (new) for you to try if you haven’t already done so. If you want to add to this list, let me know. I can link back or just update this post.


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