Back in my senior year of college, I took a graduate class that required me to summarize one or two research articles a week. Though I absolutely hated it at a time (mostly because I hadn’t yet figured out how to read research papers yet), I found that it became an invaluable skill. What better way to make sure that you understand a research paper than condensing its many pages into a measly paragraph or two?
Category Archives: STEM Advice
How to Read Science Papers: An Update
I have been doing a lot of reading lately. A lot of reading. I’ve been scouring through the literature so I can have a solid foundation before/while I write my NSF fellowship proposal for this year…the last year I can apply. However, as I’ve been reading, I’ve noticed that my methods of going through my many, many piles of papers has changed since this time last year. Perhaps it’s because instead of reading just to read, I’m actually reading for information; to appear like less of a dumbass in my field. And because my methods have changed so much since the last time I wrote about this, I asked Tumblr if I wanted to see an updated version of this kind of post and I got an astounding:
So here we are…Again.
I shall note that the following tips are just what happens to work for me at this point in my academic career and I’m still modifying my methods as I go along (so stay tuned for next year?). This is probably a good reading technique if you’re just gathering background information, but may not necessarily work if you’re combing through methodology or doing anything more critical… Either way, I’m simply hoping that if anyone is struggling to read papers, this or last year’s post can at least provide good starting points in order to develop your own way of reading papers. Anyway, moving on!
Undergrad Research FAQ
“Research is to see what everybody else has seen, and to think what nobody else has thought.”~Albert Szent-Gyorgyi
I wanted to present to you what I hope to become the “super duper guide to all that is undergrad research”! I know that before I entered college, I had absolutely no idea that undergrad research was even a possibility. I thought college would be four years of going to class, joining clubs and making a desperate attempt at being social. However, once I discovered this whole other aspect to undergrad, my eyes were then opened to a whole new array of endless opportunity! In fact, I probably wouldn’t be where I am today if I had never participated in undergrad research! But, more on the benefits later.
Anyway, to those of you who have many questions but few answers to the mysteries of undergrad research, I hope this post can be the guide that I wish I had when I was in your shoes. I also want this post to evolve as I get a better idea of additional questions people may have. So, if you think of anything that should be added, please let me know in the comments below or by any means on my contact page. Continue reading Undergrad Research FAQ
How to find STEM Internships!
Not only are internships very important in terms of resume building, but it can be so much more than that! Internships are great places to network with colleagues in your chosen field and to gain a unique perspective on the inner workings of your discipline! However, as great as that may sound, I remember feeling really overwhelmed when searching for internships during my junior year of undergrad.
Well, fear not! Because finding internships is actually quite easy if you know where to look. Of course, I say this with the small disclaimer that these tips are mainly centered around STEM internships in the US, but hopefully these tips can at least lend a hand to anyone looking for a cool experience for the summer.
So, I’m going to separate my tips into separate categories!
Surviving Lab Classes
Extended version of this! Oh and sorta this too!
As a STEM major, there is a high probability that you’re going to have at least one class that has some sort of lab component. Whether it’s a three to four hour lab once a week or in the worst case (read: as a chemistry major), two four-hour labs a week. 😦
Of course, the difference between lab-based courses and lecture-based courses is that there is a significant portion of your grade is no longer based on exams and problem sets. Rather, a large chunk is now based on three other things: (1) how accurately and efficiently can you do your experiment in the allotted time, (2) how well you can remember your lab manual for quizzes, as well as (3) how well you can write it up (read: defend your results) on your lab report.
Unfortunately, for those that are starting on their first serious lab courses, it’s always these components that can sometimes be the trickiest to master. So, having survived quite a few lab courses as a chemistry major, here is my take on how I survived my lab courses in hopes that it helps you too! 🙂
Good luck & science away!
How to Succeed in Hard Science Classes
So I think at least once in everyone’s college career there is that one class that just becomes the bane of your existence. Either the professor cannot explain the subject well enough, or the material itself is practically in another language (Read: Physics). For me as a chemistry major, these classes were E&M Physics, Chemical Thermodynamics, Multivariable Calculus and the NMR Spectroscopy part of Organic Chemistry. Evil! Evil! Evil!
Yet, somehow I passed! Not always with a perfect A, but close enough that my GPA survived! 🙂
How did I manage, you ask! Here are my tips and tricks on surviving those evil, difficult classes!
How to Read (Science) Journal Articles
I remember one of the most daunting tasks I had as an undergrad researcher was reading science articles. I could just not sit down and read one, much less understand what they were trying to tell me! It’s like it went in one ear and out the other… or the sight-seeing equivalent I guess.
Well, eventually, after many, many, many journal articles after, I can actually read and (sort of) understand what they’re trying to tell me! Turns out I just needed to find own way of reading them. Since I’m a visual person, that meant colored pens or going through various annotating apps on my tablet…
So, in hopes this helps at least one researcher in the very beginnings of their career, I shall now present my own personal method of annotating and understanding journal articles!