Today, externally funded research is the rule rather than the exception. The problem statements and hypotheses of a research project have already been formulated by a senior researcher when filing the funding application. When the research student enters the picture a project plan has already been made. All that remains is to produce results in the laboratory. This situation enhances the impression that many students have, that experiments are mainly about taking measurements – a belief arising during traditional, structured laboratory classes that are based on demonstrations rather than real experiments.
Experienced experimenters know that the main efforts in a successful experiment lie in meticulous planning and analysis, and that both of these must be firmly rooted in a scientific approach. Entering the research process at such a late stage, students may be delayed in realizing this crucial point. The art of experimentation is often learned by doing, so an intuitive understanding of the experimental method usually evolves gradually during years of trial and error. The aim of this book is to speed up the journey.
Research education is often practically oriented, focusing on techniques and concepts that are used in specific research areas. In order to become an independent researcher it is important to also acquire more general research competencies. Research students must adopt a scientific mindset, learn how to plan meaningful experiments, and understand the fundamentals ...