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Course Description

The training of young researchers often takes place is a way that is reminiscent of becoming a professional in the middle ages. In those times, a pupil would work together with a master and while working along with the master the pupil acquires the necessary skills. Most graduate students (the pupil) receive their research training this way; by working with an academic advisor (the master), the skills necessary for being an effective researcher are assumed to diffuse to the student. This happens to a certain extent, but the process is often inefficient and incomplete. The course “The Art of Science” aims to fill this gap by specifically addressing issues that are needed to be effective in research.

The short course offers a selection of topics that include the following:

  • What is science? (What is it that makes science move forward, and how can we tap most effectively into our creativity?)
  • Choosing a research topic. (What considerations should be taken into account in creating a research portfolio?)
  • Questions drive research. (How can one find answers if one doesn’t know what the questions are?
  • How to turn questions into a workplan?)
  • Goal setting. (Without setting goals we are adrift, yet goals are not everything; being in the process and giving meaning is part of our work as well.)
  • Turning challenges into opportunities. (What are common challenges and opportunities in research, and how can we use these to move forward?)
  • Ethics of research. (How do we connect our values to our work as a researcher, both in the content of our work and in the way we carry out our work?)
  • Using the scientific literature. (How do we keep up with the scientific literature and archive bibliographic information effectively?)
  • Communication. (Having good communication skills is essential in industry and academia. What are the does and don’ts of oral communication?)
  • Publishing a paper. (Getting scientific work published can be an art, how can we increase our chances of success while minimizing complications along the way?)
  • Time management. (In this time of continuous connection and a drive to optimize productivity, it is a challenge to manage our activities. How does one choose these activities effectively while being a responsible contributor at work and outside of work?)
  • Writing proposals. (How can we most effectively communicate research ideas so that they will receive financial support?)
     

This class is aimed at junior researchers and their mentors in all fields of science and engineering. Depending of the venue of the class and the duration of the short course we will determine which topics to cover. The class is given in the form of an interactive conversation between teacher and students.

Course Objectives

Upon completion of the course, participants will be able to:

  • understand the considerations for choosing a research portfolio,
  • make a workplan for research that is underpinned by questions,
  • know common pittfalls and opportunities in research,
  • describe the elements of efficient oral communication,
  • comprehend fundamentals of time management.
Participants' Profile

This course is aimed at junior researchers and their mentors in all fields of science and engineering.

Prerequisites

Participants should have some experience in research.

Recommended reading

Participants are recommended to read the book "The Art of Being a Scientist" by Roel Snieder and Ken Larner 

About the Instructor

Roel Snieder holds since 2000 the Keck Foundation Endowed Chair of Basic Exploration Science at the Colorado School of Mines. He received in 1984 a Masters degree in Geophysical Fluid Dynamics from Princeton University, and in 1987 a PhD in seismology from Utrecht University. In 1993 he was appointed as professor of seismology at Utrecht University, where from 1997-2000 he was appointed as Dean of the Faculty of Earth Sciences. From 2007-2010 he served as director of the Center for Wave Phenomena. Roel served on the editorial boards of Geophysical Journal International, Inverse Problems, Reviews of Geophysics, the Journal of the Acoustical Society of America, and the European Journal of Physics. In 2000 he was elected as Fellow of the American Geophysical Union for important contributions to geophysical inverse theory, seismic tomography, and the theory of surface waves. He is author of the textbooks "A Guided Tour of Mathematical Methods for the Physical Sciences" and "The Art of Being a Scientist" that are published by Cambridge University Press. Roel is a foreign member of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences. In 2011 he was elected as Honorary Member of the Society of Exploration Geophysicists. Since 2000 he is a firefighter in Genesee Fire Rescue.