Doing scientific research is a lot of work! Even studying hard for an exam may be too easy for those who want to pursue academic science as a career. Applicants are very competitive, and most require at least a bachelor’s degree or higher in order to even apply.
Fortunately, there are many ways you can learn how to do scientific research. You can take courses at university, look into online resources, read books, and participate in scientific projects.
There are several different routes that aspiring scientists use to get into professional level studies. What matters is your motivation and what areas interest you.
In this article, we will discuss some ways to get into scientific research by doing it yourself (DIY) or working with experienced researchers. We will also talk about why being able to do scientific experiments and procedures is important and how to begin if you already have a passion for maths or physics.
Find a research lab
Finding an appropriate laboratory for you depends on your career goals, as well as what field of science you would like to pursue. There are many ways to approach this!
Some specialties require more in-depth studies such as molecular biology or genetics, whereas others may not (for example, studying ecology has no specific requirements).
Most academic scientific research labs have internal procedures for applicants. These usually include having students write about their experiences with the researchers, taking some form of test, or both. Students are typically given access to at least part of the lab’s resources, depending on whether they are officially enrolled as employees.
Making friends in the department is another way to get involved. You can start by asking if anyone is looking to recruit new members, or dole out helpful tips and tricks to those already working there. Either way, don’t be shy – people often make mistakes, but are very quick to correct them.
Prepare your resume
A strong academic record is one of the most important things for employers looking to recruit you into scientific research or similar positions. As such, make sure your resume is clear and easy to read!
Include all relevant information, but no more than what’s allowed under the word limit. If there’s not enough space, consider breaking up content into different sections or even deleting unneeded details.
Keep it concise and focus on describing how you can contribute to the job field in question, as well as highlighting strengths (i.e., examples of ways you demonstrated leadership, teamwork, etc.).
Know your research field
A little background information is very important when getting into scientific research. What area of science you want to pursue depends heavily upon what you are passionate about, and how much time you are willing to invest in it.
Research fields such as biochemistry or molecular biology can be quite broad, so most students start off by choosing one topic they are interested in and then branching out from there.
By having a general knowledge of all areas of science, you will be able to pick up new skills more easily later on. Generalists always do better than specialists!
Generalist researchers typically spend their time studying topics that are related to theirs, and moving onto other studies if something interesting comes along. This way, they never really focus on just one thing, which is why they remain successful.
Scientific research is not only limited to going into a field that sounds cool, but also looking for opportunities to put those skills to use. Finding an opportunity to apply what you have learned could lead to a career change, or even a newly discovered talent.
Connect with professionals in the field
Being able as easy as just clicking “like” on a scientific research paper or posting your own work on social media, sharing knowledge is one of the biggest ways to get inspiration and help for your career.
By connecting with other scientists and researchers in various fields, you can find out what they are doing, how they are progressing with their careers, and maybe even pick up some tips.
Forming collaborations and networking with people in related areas is an excellent way to gain new insights and opportunities.
There are many ways to connect with like-minded individuals in the science world, including community forums, LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter.
Some groups have dedicated sections only for members who and/or where you would like to collaborate with so make sure to look into those!
General online communities such as academia.edu and Quora are also great resources to search through. You should definitely do your homework before jumping into anything though, making sure it seems legitimate.
Practice your science skills
Being able as we are now, there’s really no reason you can’t get into scientific research. All it takes is practicing your science skills and injecting these into other domains. For example, if you’re very good at math, then becoming a statistician or mathematician would be an interesting way to enter scientific research.
If you’re very artistic, then studying biomedical art or medical illustration could also be a great path! If you’re passionate about something, then teaching this thing to others would be a way to enter the field. The more ways you can mix your skill sets with scientific disciplines, the easier it will become to find employment in that area.
A good way to get into research is by doing! If you are passionate about a field, then start studying it. You can take courses via university or community colleges, visit conferences in person or online, read books and papers related to the area, and even begin giving presentations within your field.
By engaging in different ways of learning about the science you’re interested in, you will learn more about it. And if you’re willing to put in the effort, you’ll probably pick up some things along the way that could help you achieve your career goal.
Furthermore, working as an assistant or researcher is a great way to gain exposure to the field and develop relationships with other professionals. People often make connections for jobs through friends or colleagues, so this would be a good way to source employment.
Most academic positions have very specific applications and paperwork that need to be reviewed and approved before being hired. These include licenses, degrees, certifications, and past work experiences.
In fact, employers typically require at least a bachelor’s degree and professional license (for example, medical doctor) as a minimum requirement. Beyond that, they may ask about coursework, certification, and/or past projects that show leadership ability, teamwork skills, and communication proficiency.
Depending on the position, these additional requirements vary in importance relative to the job. But overall, it’s important to prioritize education because it boosts your chances of getting employed.
Get a good degree
A lot of people start their journey in research by doing either undergraduate or graduate studies in science, medicine, engineering, or business. These are all great degrees to have, but they should be done only if you’re passionate about scientific topics!
If your passion is in other fields then studying these subjects can give you an excellent career. For example, someone with a bachelor’s degree in mathematics might work as a financial analyst while someone with a master’s degree in physical education could coach sports or teach at the college level.
However, if you don’t think much about science outside of school lessons then going into research may not be the best idea. You will need to do some reading and practicing on your own to get things rolling!
Before jumping into doctoral-level study it is important to make sure that you understand the basics of how scientific research works. This includes understanding what types of researchers there are, what academic institutions exist for scientists, and whether having formal training is a requirement or not for becoming a researcher.
There are many ways to gain this knowledge so try looking around online to find information. Also, talk to experienced researchers to see what kind of careers are available to them and what skills they had to develop to reach that position.
Pay attention to practicalities
A lot of people start working in scientific research directly out of undergraduate, but this is not the best way to go about it. While having an academic degree is a beautiful thing that comes with many perks, being a scientist isn’t necessarily for everyone.
Being a scientist requires more than just knowing how to read and do math! It takes years to achieve professional status so don’t expect to walk into a lab position as a researcher after completing your BA or BSc.
That said, there are ways to get started if you’re passionate about science and want to pursue career opportunities within the field. By being familiar with the basics of scientific research, you can choose from several different paths to enter the field.
These include things such as studying biochemistry at graduate level, undertaking doctoral studies, pursuing specialty areas like biomedical engineering or pharmacology, and even becoming involved in clinical trials. There are also lots of other positions available including work in business development, project management and marketing.