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Experiment!: Planning, Implementing and Interpreting by Oivind Andersson

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1.3 The Art of Discovery

Methods and techniques are all very well but good research involves more than that. As previously stated, science is also an attitude to the world. Professional researchers need to have a scientific mindset. When graduating you should be able to identify and formulate new research questions, develop your own approaches to answering them, and independently conduct research that meets the accepted quality standards of your field. In other words, you should master the scientific method to the point that you are able to make your own contribution to science.

To do this, you need a competency that is made up of several components. One of them is knowledge. In order to identify interesting research questions, you must have broad knowledge within your field as well as deep knowledge within the limited part where you are conducting your research. Another component is skills, meaning that you need to master a number of methods and techniques. Some of these will be quite general while others will be specific to your field, such as biochemical laboratory techniques or thermodynamic analyses in engineering. The final component is the one we started this chapter with: the scientific mindset.

You are expected to acquire these three components in different ways. The knowledge part mostly comes by reading books and scientific papers. Skills are often acquired by “on-the-job” training, in a laboratory or in the field. We frequently expect the mindset to be transferred, ...

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