Title Being a Scientist
Subtitle Tools for Science Students
Author Michael H. Schmidt
ISBN 9781487588441
List price USD 36.95
Price outside India Available on Request
Original price
Binding Paperback
No of pages 320
Book size 153 x 229 mm
Publishing year 2020
Original publisher University of Toronto Press
Published in India by .
Exclusive distributors Viva Books Private Limited
Sales territory India, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Nepal, .
Status New Arrival
About the book Send Enquiry


Being a Scientist is wide in its scope, covering such topics as research ethics to scientific writing. Written with a more personable style, this book will help research trainees, and will be an excellent single resource for students.”

Pasan Fernando, Department of Biology, Carleton University


“Science faculty are not trained to teach writing, and that is a skill that needs to be developed if one is to teach such a course. Many science faculty feel that it is not possible to grade writing fairly or consistently. Furthermore, there is still an unfortunate attitude among some faculty that students should learn these skills by osmosis. Thus, the challenges are both in having faculty with the skills to teach such courses and overcoming the belief that such courses are not necessary. Being a Scientist addresses both issues. The discussion of overcoming doubts is excellent. Second, having rubrics, discussion guides, and explicit learning objectives at hand will be very useful for students in most science fields.”

Penny J. Beuning, Department of Chemistry and Chemical Biology, Northeastern University


Being a Scientist is a comprehensive introduction to the many aspects of scientific life beyond the classroom and laboratory. Written with undergraduate science majors in mind, the book covers ethics, the philosophical bases of scientific methods, library research, reading, peer review, creativity, proposal and paper writing, and oral and poster presentations.

In contrast to other texts in the field, which often take a simple prescriptive approach to these topics, Being a Scientist connects them to the historical and philosophical roots of modern science, as well as the common experiences of all people.

Written in a conversational style, the book makes use of metaphor, historical anecdote, and hypothetical research about everyday household questions. This approach helps undergraduates learn basic research skills without being too intimidated by the advanced concepts, vocabulary, and methods which are encountered in looking at the current scientific literature.

Being a Scientist is a textbook for a semester-long course devoted to teaching research and communication skills to undergraduate science majors, but it can be adapted for use in summer research experiences, capstone research courses, and other courses throughout the undergraduate curriculum.


List of Figures and Tables


Introduction • The Organization and Use of the Book • To Instructors • To Students • Acknowledgments


Part I: Thinking, and Behaving, Like a Good Scientist

Chapter 1. What Does It Mean to Be a Scientist?  Why Become a Scientist? •  Scientists Are Humans • Defining Science, and Scientists, More Precisely • Aristotle, Medieval Scholasticism, and Deduction • Francis Bacon and Induction • Hume and the Problems with Induction • William Whewell and Hypotheses • Dealing with Doubts about Induction: Popper • Holistic Views— Duhem, Kuhn, Latour, and Ziman • Is There a Conclusion?

Chapter 2. What Should We Do, and Why? The Questions of Ethics • Why Study Ethics? • Systems of Ethics • Consequentialism and Utilitarianism • Social Contractarianism • Deontology • Virtue • Ethics of Care • Using Different Approaches to Ethics • Ethics in Practice • About Moral Courage • The Ethics of Science • The Importance of Honesty • The Ethos of Science • The Context of Science • Resources for Scientific Research • Ethical Conflicts

Part II: Standing on the Shoulders of Giants

Chapter 3. The Scientific Literature: An Overview of the Terrain, and a Brief Hike In • History, Metaphors, and Literature • Subramanyam’s Cycle • Approaching the Landscape • Kinds of Books • A Plan • Finding Books and Reference Works

Chapter 4. Scientific Journals, Past and Present • The History of Scientific Literature • Did Modern Science Start with Gutenberg? • The Rise of Scientific Journals • The Evolution of the Scientific Journal and the Scientific Article—the Eighteenth to the Twentieth Centuries • What Can Be Found in Scientific Journals Today? • What about the Future? • Climbing into the Journal Literature • What’s in a Name?

Chapter 5. Abstracts Collections and Databases • A Brief History of Abstracting and Indexing • Investigating Databases • Implementing a Search

Chapter 6. Using Cited References— Backward and Forward • The Importance of Cited References • Looking Backward • The Limitations of Looking Backward, and the Need to Look Forward

Chapter 7. Reading a Scientific Paper • Why Is It So Hard? • Hints for Taking a First Look at a Scientific Paper • Reading for Arguments • Local Arguments and Larger Arguments • Thinking beyond the Paper

Chapter 8. Peer Review • Benefits and Limitations • Historical Background • Modern Peer Review in Practice • Some Problems with Peer Review, and Some Possible Solutions


Part III: Planning, Documenting, and Presenting Science

Chapter 9. Starting Research: A Different “What Should We Do?” Question • The Importance of Creativity • Divergent Thinking on a Big Scale • Divergent Thinking in a Narrower, More Advanced Context • Convergent Thinking • Visualization • Situating Your Research: The Scientific Literature

Chapter 10. Refining Research Ideas and Writing a Proposal • From Ideas to a Proposal • Practical Quantitation • Using Quantitative Data • What about Statistics? • Anticipating Problems • Writing the Proposal

Chapter 11. The Laboratory Notebook • The Evolution and Importance of the Laboratory Notebook • The Format of a Notebook Entry • The Laboratory Notebook in Real Life • Electronic Laboratory Notebooks (ELNS)

Chapter 12. Scientific Writing: Grammar and Style • Tense and Voice • General Writing and Style Suggestions • A Quick Guide to Tense and Voice

Chapter 13. Assembling and Writing a Scientific Paper • Some Perspective • Authorship • Starting with the Results • Distinguishing the Results and Discussion • Results, Selected and Presented • Writing about the Results • Methods • Discussion • How about a Conclusions Section? • Introduction • Abstract • Title • Putting It All Together

Chapter 14. Oral and Poster Presentations • Historical Perspective • The Structure of Oral Presentations of Research • Visual Aids • How Much Text? • Tables and Figures for Presentations • Slide Style • Talking the Talk • Poster Presentations • Poster Graphics • Poster Layout and Display • Supporting Your Poster

Chapter 15. Closing Thoughts



About the Author:

Michael H. Schmidt is a professor in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry at California State University, San Marcos.

Target Audience:

It is a textbook for a semester-long course devoted to teaching research and communication skills to undergraduate science majors. This book will also help research trainees.




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