It's Dangerous To Go Alone!
For something a little different, let's consider some resources for burgeoning researchers out there...
The beginning of a career in research is often described as an adventure – a journey of self-discovery, where the adventurer must face deeps valleys and ascend tall peaks for the pursuit of knowledge. And as a wise old man once said, it’s dangerous to go alone! So take this: a collection of gems to be found within the PLOS collections titled Ten Simple Rules. All of the articles found within the Ten Simple Rules collection are published within PLOS Computational Biology; if this isn’t your field, fear not! Most articles within the collection transcend field of interest, and are useful tools throughout your career. And, because it's PLOS, it's open access, and can be useful to those outside of institutions and non-researchers as well.
|8 bit mysticism care of The Legend of Zelda (1986), pretend the sword is this post|
My first encounter with the Ten Simple Rules collection was in 2014. I was writing my Master’s thesis and was trying to eke out useable figures that weren’t crowded or useless. A herald from beyond, Ten Simple Rules for Better Figures, clearly outlined all aspects of figure generation I had to consider. The basics were there – Rule 5: Do Not Trust The Defaults – as well as plenty of tips and resources that benefit beginners and experts alike. In the end, my own figures were stronger, and I also made sure to make them accessible and check for how the images looked for those with red/green colour-blindness, something I had never considered before and now won’t ever forget.
I survived my Master’s, and began to consider a PhD program. Luckily, there was Ten Simple Rules for Graduate Students to really affirm that I wanted to pursue a doctorate. Within my program, I wanted to undertake a large Wikipedia editing project, but didn’t know where to start – enter Ten Simple Rules for Editing Wikipedia. My most recent reads from the collection are all about data: Ten Simple Rules for the Care and Feeding of Scientific Data, and Ten Simple Rules for Effective Statistical Practice. Double whammy, but necessary to establish good practices before I get too far ahead into my research.
I could go on, but I think I’ve made my point. Instead, when going through the collection, you may start to wonder why these articles are needed. The goal of most of these articles is an attempt to bridge a gap in training or knowledge. This may be a gap that the authors may have experienced themselves, or challenges of peers that they witness. When members of the PLOS Ecology community were asked in an informal survey about the trade-offs between teaching and research, a rule of thumb emerged: “If they are asking for 3-4 classes per semester and research excellence, you’ll have to ask yourself where that extra time is going to come from.” The results are daunting, but take heed, there’s a Ten Simple Rules that may help you out early before it’s too late.
And for the ambitious among us, there’s a Ten Simple Rules to Win a Nobel Prize.
This was an abandoned post for another blog I write for, but I really liked how it turned out and tried to re-purpose it. I hope it's useful to any researchers out there!