Twelve easy steps to embrace or avoid scientific petrification: lessons learned from a career in otolith research

. ICES Journal of Marine Science (August 2017)


Prior experience is as much an eye opener in science as it is in life, and often results in increased efficiency, greater productivity and reduced stress. While some actions and behaviours must be experienced first-hand to be appreciated, there are some behavioural patterns that can be readily absorbed from others, allowing the learning curve to be shortened and the professional career enhanced. After nearly 40 years of scientific research in otolith and shark science, it is clear that some strategies and tactics worked well at advancing my career, while others were ineffective or even counterproductive. Targeted mainly at graduate students and early-to-mid-career scientists, this somewhat philosophical essay identifies 12 easily adopted scientific behaviour patterns that would have had a hugely positive effect on my career, if only I had known about them early on. My hope is that early-career scientists can take advantage of some of the hard lessons that I have learned along the way, thus avoiding needless mistakes in the process of becoming the best scientist that they can be.

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