Jobs that require reading scientific journal articles?
November 7, 2013 9:59 AM   Subscribe

I love reading scientific journal articles for hours on end. What careers require this?

I'm in a masters program for materials engineering (semiconductors) but I don't really enjoy spending time in the lab. I do however, love reading existing literature.

I tried writing articles for popular science magazines, but I wasn't very good at writing geared to the general public. Are there any jobs out there that involve writing literature reviews or similar types of more technical reports?
posted by SouthCNorthNY to Science & Nature (11 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Editor at a scientific journal?
posted by chrisamiller at 10:01 AM on November 7, 2013 [4 favorites]

Working for Chemical Abstracts?

They have a few jobs posted but the Technical Editor, Journal Production and Manufacturing Operations (JPMO) specifically says: Do you have a 4-year degree in chemistry or a related scientific discipline? Have you used ACS products in the conduct of research? Do you have strong writing and editing skills and experience with an eye toward detail? Do you prefer an environment that takes you out of the lab and away from the bench but affords you the chance to apply your technical expertise in the world of publishing? If so - keep reading!

(I use a lot of CA products in our library and pretty much everyone I deal with, from sales to training to product support, has a science degree that they're putting to use in a very different, non-bench way.)
posted by librarianamy at 10:07 AM on November 7, 2013

Patent attorney is something worth looking at. There are other jobs in the intellectual property area too that don't require the full law degree part, either working with the patent attorneys in a support/research role or directly for research organisations or industries generating the IP.

Grant writing is another direction to go in. Grants always involve some degree of writing for the lay person but much of it is more technical. I know a couple of people with full time jobs acting as grant writing support for large research organisations. It's generally more focussed on writing than reading though.
posted by shelleycat at 10:17 AM on November 7, 2013

Oh! Shelleycat is right! Also think about Patent Examiner. A few of my retired scientists do that now "for fun."
posted by librarianamy at 10:21 AM on November 7, 2013 [1 favorite]

I would say that a small-medium sized company that's working on developing new technologies (or improvements on existing ones) is where you'd probably want to be. I don't know where to find that in the semiconductor field, because I'm a chemical engineer. My company actually does a lot weird, interesting stuff that requires a LOT of reading, but a lot of the technical articles I come across in my research are too advanced and specific for our purposes. You'd probably love them.

I did, however, come back from a visit to a company a few weeks ago that does solely focus on developing new technologies in my field to presumably license out (or maybe sell for the right price). They were a research firm (only ~150 employees and much fewer engineers than that) with some unique bleeding edge tech for what we needed, and we just happen to be the first company using it at full scale. My point, however, is that I bet the engineers working on developing the different technologies in that company probably have read countless technical articles engineering and scientific articles to build the foundation they're working from. The really detailed, over-my-head type of articles.

This company's sole goal was to develop new technologies, not to develop one, then sell the resulting products from them to make their profits. That's where you'd probably want to be if you love reading dense scientific and engineering articles. My gut tells me you'd be too pigeonholed in a big research firm to have that opportunity unless it had a ton of small groups with lots of autonomy and flexibility for each group. Don't work somewhere where you're trying to learn how to build something and get it out the door ASAP like where I work: you will NEVER have enough time to read everything you want/need to.

Look for a small-to-medium engineering research firm that suits your interests, I say.
posted by KinoAndHermes at 10:32 AM on November 7, 2013

I am a biomedical indexer. I read 40-50 scientific journals a day.
posted by gaspode at 10:32 AM on November 7, 2013 [2 favorites]

Scientific editing is a thing! Not just at journals but at universities or freelance.
posted by karbonokapi at 10:40 AM on November 7, 2013 [2 favorites]

solely focus on developing new technologies in my field to presumably license out (or maybe sell for the right price).

And actually I know someone who went the other way, working for a company who's sole purpose was to find promising new drugs and license them in for further development. Making the decisions about which drugs (or, in your case, technologies) to throw money at in some form involved being really up on the whole research area - so loads of reading and analysing and understanding. There are all kinds of roles like this out there once you start really looking and talking to people in the industry.

A lot of these positions are easier to get with a PhD though. Everyone I know who has either seriously considered (to the point of interviewing) or actually done the things I've specifically suggested all have PhDs. It's kind of the obvious way of proving that you're capable of both understanding and engaging with a specific research area and writing a large piece of literature from it. Don't under-estimate how much you're going to learn just writing your MSc thesis regardless of the lab work.
posted by shelleycat at 11:14 AM on November 7, 2013

I'm a medical librarian and a huge part of my job is reading articles and writing summaries. I am sure there must be other librarians doing similar things on the engineering side of the world.
posted by zoetrope at 11:59 AM on November 7, 2013

Research manager at medical device company.
posted by sulaine at 5:50 PM on November 7, 2013

I read journals articles all day. I talked about my job here.

My job title is "scientist" -- which is really dumb -- but what I do is claims substantiation. They definitely have engineer-type people doing this job at medical device companies.
posted by pH Indicating Socks at 9:35 PM on November 7, 2013

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