Top tens are very much a theme of the last issue of Nature for 2016. They include images of the year, 10 people who made a mark in science this year, and a review of the year in science. Naturejobs also gets into the “listicle” spirit by trawling through a year of articles to bring you our ten top career tips (and a few more thrown in for good measure) for the coming year.
1. Want to learn how to design an experiment or analyse data? Training is there if you look.
Much blame is placed on weak experimental and analytical practices that cause researchers to inadvertently favour exciting hypotheses.
Monya Baker reports.
In a separate post for Naturejobs, Monya runs through some of the statistical tools she discovered as part of her research.
2. Looking for funding? Here’s a smart guide for grant sources off the beaten track
If you haven’t completed the preliminary research needed to apply for government funding, check out corporate, private and independent foundations.
Ingrid Eisenstadter embarks on a quest for the holy grant.
3. To improve your own papers, learn how to evaluate other scientists’ work.
Peer review is the backbone of modern science, and academic researchers are expected to participate in the endeavour. Although time consuming, delving deeply into someone else’s paper can benefit a scientist’s own work.
The process allows peer reviewers to read about research before it is generally known and to gain insight into how other scientists write manuscripts and present data. Quirin Schiermeier investigates
4. Trying to navigate the growing deluge of data?
Bibliometrics show that the number of published scientific papers has climbed by 8–9% each year over the past several decades. In the biomedical field alone, more than 1 million papers pour into the PubMed database each year — about two papers per minute. For researchers who are already overwhelmed by bench and field work, grant-writing, publishing and other time-eaters, trying to navigate the growing deluge of data (see ‘Sailing the data seas’) has become a second job. Esther Landuis find out how some of them cope.
5. Having to dismiss lab members is not easy, but you can make it less painful for all involved.
Whether they have to sack a graduate student or postdoc because of misconduct, poor performance or a funding shortfall, PIs must take care to handle the situation in the right way. Chris Woolston reports.
6. The pressures of a scientific career make it especially important to look after your mental health.
Depression and anxiety are widespread, including among scientists, who often face intense pressure to work long hours, publish in high-profile journals, win grants to support themselves and others and rebound after repeated rejections.
Graduate studies can be particularly tough, because students suddenly face high expectations and low salaries and find that their fates lie in the hands of advisers, who can even live in another country.
Emily Sohn reports.
7. Falling in love with a single theory can cut off fruitful avenues of enquiry. Here’s how to keep your mind open.
Proponents of the multiple-working-hypotheses method say that it prevents scientists from developing ‘tunnel vision’, and enables them to embrace the possibility that several hypotheses might be true at once. Practising the approach takes discipline: researchers must brainstorm possible explanations for a scientific phenomenon before collecting or analysing data, and use techniques such as scrambling the order of samples and blinding data to help to counteract favouritism. It also demands that scientists remain open-minded during the entire research process, and continually refine their hypotheses. Julia Rosen investigates.
8. Technology and practice can help introverted researchers deliver great presentations.
Researchers in academia and industry often have to step into the spotlight, by presenting their results at seminars and meetings and forging new relationships with colleagues, funders and, increasingly, the public. Mastering these skills is especially important for young scientists who are trying to build their reputations and advance their careers. But for many shy or introverted researchers, these tasks can feel daunting, if not downright terrifying. Julia Rosen reports.
9. Geographical career moves in science are common, exhilarating — and challenging.
Many junior scientists think that they must travel to advance their career. They worry that advisers, lab heads and potential employers will view them as lazy or unmotivated if they stay put. Emily Sohn reports.
10. Enlisting the help of an illustrator can add impact to research papers and outreach projects.
The use of striking images to accompany manuscripts and outreach efforts is growing as more journal publishers are requiring graphical abstracts — depictions of a paper’s main thrust or concept — to accompany studies. These commissioned illustrations differ from the everyday photograph, sketch or overview figure that usually accompanies research manuscripts or talks. They get to the core of concepts; they may also depict unobservable phenomena, ranging from subatomic particles to what extinct life forms might have looked like. Although working on such images with an illustrator might seem like a lot of extra toil, and paying for their services extravagant, the benefits of skilled artistic presentation can be manifold. Jyoti Madhusoodanan reports.
We hope you find these articles relevant as you develop your careers in 2017. And happy holidays from the Naturejobs team.
OK, so we struggled to contain this list to ten articles when we were first asked to submit this list as part of this Nature Special, which, incidentally, also lists the top 20 reads of 2016, and a news quiz. So here are some others thrown in for good measure (aka “the ones that got away):
- Fancy working abroad? Brush up on local customs first
- Science depends on repetition and replication. Here are some tips on how to tackle workplace tedium
- Postdoc positions in industry can teach people skills that they would not learn in academia
- Taking a break from your PhD can be risky, but there are ways to limit career damage
- Choices for doctoral programmes can seem endless. How do you find the best fit?
- Volunteer work can help your career, so consider doing it before you retire
We wish all our readers a prosperous and successful 2017.
David Payne is chief careers editor, Nature.