Editor’s note: As we continue to invite bloggers out there in the wild to compose our monthly Blogroll column, Sylvain Deville penned the October 2014 column.
Perseverance, soft skills and self-reflection are needed for a career in science.
Between 1996 and 2011, fewer than 1% of scientists published a paper each year, but their names appeared on just over 40% of all papers. It’s a long and winding road to join that 1% and writing at Aidan’s Aviary, Aidan Horner lists all his rejections, from publications to positions, in his negative CV. This is a useful reminder that one can go through many failures before success. Never give up, never surrender.
Odyssey, at Pondering Blather, realizes that a good scientific training alone is not enough and that a lot more is needed to set up and run a successful lab, including managing (lab budgets and people), teaching and grant writing. How and when to teach such soft skills is a critical issue and is largely underestimated and poorly recognized. Among these skills, peer-review is still essential to the advancement of science, and Alexis Verger at An Infinity of Hypotheses, offers his reviewer oath. Whether peer-review should be anonymous or not prompts much debate, but the rest of Verger’s coda, including ‘Review unto others as you would have them review unto you’, should be engraved on the floor of every lab.
Finally, Acclimatrix, writing at Tenure, She Wrote, ponders which kind of mentor she wants to be. Funny? Hard? Motherly? Badass? “I want to create a strong lab culture […] that results not only in strong bonds, but strong science,” she writes. Don’t we all? The PI plays a critical role in driving the group and mentoring the students, and reflecting on what you want to achieve surely pays off in the long term. “I’ll let you know how that goes,” Acclimatrix wrote last year. Time for an update?