Several students ask this question to me that, “What is a scientist? Or How can I be a scientist? Just like every profession, being a scientist warrants you to have certain qualities and skills. The following four qualities and skills are detrimental to be a scientist. If you don’t possess these four skills, then you don’t deserve to be called a scientist in my opinion. In reality, you are not dependent on someone else to hire you as a scientist to be a scientist. Many scientists work for themselves, instead of working for a lab. The reason being, being a scientist is a state of mind and a behavior, rather than a job title. Thus, anyone can be a scientist regardless of age, gender, religion, nationality, or race. Merely being a student of science doesn’t make you a scientist at all, it just makes you a student of science. Now lets discuss the four key skills needed to be a scientist.
The first and the foremost skill and quality that you need to develop and have is “thinking”. A scientist is a thinker, who knows how to think. He knows what are the requirements for thinking. The modern education system teaches us how to memorize but doesn’t teach us how to think. Thinking is a skill, and fortunately it can be learned. There are different exercises you can do or different books and authors you can read to improve your thinking abilities. Using the brain and thinking needs focus and the ability to spend time alone with yourself and some quality time of brainstorming with others. The best books on thinking you can read are of people like Brian Tracy and Edward de Bono. You can also seek help of mental health coaches and people who train to think. There are plenty of those people- start searching.
The second most important skill to be a scientist that you need to acquire is of planning and organizing. Mainly because you need to learn to plan your project and research paper, and you also need to learn to organize your data.
Now the question is, how to improve your planning and organizing skills? The answer to this question is quite simple, spend time with people who plan well and those who are very good at organizing. You can read different books as well. Plenty of information is available simply on Google on how to plan or how to be organized. Unfortunately, very few of us use Internet for educational purposes.
The third and by far the most important skill and quality a scientist should have is writing skills. Why do you need writing skills anyways? Because you need to write and publish your findings sooner or later. Therefore, be a serious student of writing. Learn how a research paper is written. There are plenty of training programs on how to write. Those who know me, and have been following me for a while, know that we offer one of the most successful and popular programs on research writing. Now do you have an excuse left to not learn to write? Read books on writing or simply google how to write a research paper just to get an idea. Watch my free sessions on research writing on our Facebook group and my YouTube channel. There are many other channels on research writing on YouTube. Watch and subscribe to all of them and learn from them. You can never learn everything about writing but you can learn enough to make yourself a published author and an outstanding scientist.
The fourth and the last skills that you must acquire is the basic statistics. I am not asking you to be a professional statistician here. What I am asking you is to learn at least basic statistics because without it, you will not be able to understand other researchers articles and theses. The statistics is the language of research. You must learn to communicate with other scientists through this language. Now where do you learn it? The answer is the same as the third skill. Take classes, courses, watch Youtube, and simply google it.
Being a scientist is a state of mind. Anyone can be a scientist by altering the state of mind and learning some basic skills. The above mentioned four skills and qualities are highly important qualities but are definitely not the only skills needed to be a scientist. For example I didn’t mention the skill of investigation because that is an obvious skill needed to be a scientist. In this blog I just focused on most commonly ignored skills. Now where do you find more skills and qualities needed to be a scientist? The answer is , read more and more books and articles and blogs. Keep reading and keep learning and keep growing.
Dr. Hassaan Tohid