Thursday, December 29, 2011

Teaching scientific research methods

How does someone learn to do good research? Most scientists might claim it is by osmosis and experience. Social scientists tend to make graduate students take formal courses in "research methods". In contrast, natural scientists seem quite skeptical to such approaches.

Michael Marder has a new book out Research Methods for Science. It looks quite worthwhile because of the mix of background, hands on exercises, practical advice, statistics, .... It is based on a course he has co-taught to undergraduate science majors for a number of years at UTexas.

I welcome comments, particularly from people who have taught or taken such courses.

1 comment:

  1. "Most scientists might claim it is by osmosis and experience"

    we also believe in raw talent when books like outliers speak to '10,000' hrs of practice at something.

    I think part of the stratification of talent and productivity is because we dont think about the answer to this question; some advisors impart their skills and methods, others dont. Some students come with innate curiosity others are diligent and systematic. We also spend NO time in our studies on this even though it becomes our primary activity. most classes are mechanical on formalism, methods of calculations, and some of the concepts behind physics but they never focus on finding confusions to resolve, asking interesting questions, etc. So we all know how to calculate but never learn what to calculate.