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Monday, January 28, 2013

Research Degree

College degrees come in levels; BS, MS, PhD. A university may have a liberal arts college, natural science college, engineering and so on. In each degree program the university will require the students to have a certain amount of credits from other colleges, to ensure a well rounded education. This is very important. The ability to communicate both in written and oral presentations is important. It may have little to do with learning about how a protein is translated but communication is a part of any professional life. Beyond communication, a career in research should require more.

If you want to become a high school chemistry teacher you need to learn how to teach. You earn chemistry degree and you get a teaching certificate. If you want to conduct research for a biotechnology company or the pharmaceutical industry... you have chosen the path of least resistance. You get your degree; BS, MS, or PhD, and you start looking for work. Your college professors were most likely researchers. They are looking for cheap labor. Research grants bring in lots of money for our modern universities. As a result the natural selection of tenured professors has created an emphasis on research ability as opposed to teaching ability. That means that lessons in writing grant proposals are seen as more important than a course in logic over at the Philosophy department. Over time we have watered down the scientific skills needed to conduct research. Human constructs such as grants and publications become our biggest challenge. When it comes time to apply what we have learned, to take a job, many will simply become middle managers. What they have is an understanding of how to please a superior.

In science, nature should be our boss. That means that we need to learn how to conduct research. If you chose to become a middle manager, perhaps you need only a BS and a middle management certificate. If you chose to work in business development, you will need a different set of skills. The most difficult career path to actually succeed in however, is in research. Nature does not reveal its secrets without a fight. You must learn how to fight.

Under the current system, those who work on the front lines in the laboratories show up to the fight with just a BS. Perhaps here is where we insert a research certification. BS, MS, PhD indeed, but what is the certification? Are you on a chosen career path or has your lack of ambition got you stuck in the lab?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

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