Monday, October 20, 2008

Book for neophyte scientists - The Chicago Guide to Your Career in Science

I was looking for books about science writing and such to add to my subject guides and stumbled on this book - The Chicago Guide to Your Career in Science - a Toolkit for Students and Postdocs, by Victor A. Bloomfield and Esam E. El-Fakahany (U of Chicago Press, 2008). For some inexplicable reason, the UMass Amherst Libraries' copy is housed at the Du Bois library; its call number is Q 147 .B56 2008.

I haven't read it cover-to-cover, but I have dipped into it extensively at random. Every page I have read is full of sensible advice and good ideas, things that scientists know from hard experience or 20/20 hindsight, but might wish that someone had told them in advance. The subjects covered range from "Thinking about a Research Career" to "The Meaning and Responsible Conduct of Research" to "Going to Scientific Meetings" - see the Table of Contents for a fuller idea.

For example, the section "Senior or junior postdoc mentor?" (p. 85) presents a pithy and pertinent discussion on the pros and cons of working with someone with an established reputation and large lab vs. someone earlier in his or her career.

I don't know how well aspiring scientists are exposed to this kind of advice - perhaps it is done well in many labs, but in my humble opinion, this book should be required reading for anyone thinking of going into the sciences.

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