Well, this is among the most common queries among every new generation of graduate students often. Few common traits that come along this query are panic, hesitation, anxiety, nervousness, and directionless. I also don’t generalize this as many early birds learn to fly soon. Many of the early graduates usually take time to realize their strengths and weakness during the course of study, consequently, lack direction if they want to move to industry or academics. This is followed by lack of guidance and mentoring which later increases the gap between the graduate students and academic research.
There is also an urgent need to change the way of tutoring in undergraduate and post-graduate courses in natural science, like physics, chemistry, and biology. In majority of institutions, students are expected to go through a pre-set syllabus and curriculum to finally pass the term examination. This pattern of study eventually keeps the student away from thinking beyond the curriculum for at least one-third of the course duration.
Motivating students to enter research and pursue doctorate studies is key ingredient to fill this void. Students should start by reading about eminent scientists and their biographies to gain inspiration from their character. The process of literature review to find the missing gap in research is key in designing experimental work. Eventually, this practice will help to think beyond current scope of science and generate novel ideas. There is another aspect of reporting the work through publications. Many students are not aware of the process of scientific publications and the associated intricacies such as journal impact factor and citations. Once the manuscript is submitted to the journal, the editor will evaluate the article and has the right to either reject it on grounds of limited scope or process it further to peer review. During the peer review process, editor invites reviewers to evaluate the manuscript. Following this, the editor may ask for corrections based on the reviewer comments and revert back the revised manuscript. This process is repeated until finally the editor is convinced that all the comments are addressed. There are numerous scientific journals specific to particular field of science and one has to select the journal particular to the research work done.
So, the next query that may arise for students is that, what next after publication? Well, publishing a scientific paper is an achievement in itself as it is representation of your understanding on the subject and a small contribution to the wider and much bigger picture. It is token of recognition from the international community about your interest in the subject. The research can be taken a step further to solve real-life problems, for instance, developing vaccines and detection kits for covid-19 in the current situation.
In a nutshell, it is pleasing to fulfill your curiosity in the subject of interest. It is more pleasing when we are able to solve real-life problems every day in the laboratory through scientific research. I encourage all the students to reach out to the fellow researchers in their institutes and learn from them, rather than reading out the textbooks throughout the course. A small dialogue before the researchers will start to fill the void between students and immense possibilities in science.
The views presented in the above article are personal and based on the author’s experience.