A Fraudster's Degree in Clinical Research
May 16, 2015 5:38 PM   Subscribe

I took neuroscience, research-methods and sociology courses in college and got a BA in Psychology from a respected state school in NY. I loved them, but taking courses and doing well on multiple choice tests in those courses is about all I did. I learned enough to get the gist of a more conceptually straightforward journal article, but now, trying to get a job, it's become clear that I need to know what I'm talking about. Help?

How can I improve my scientific literacy avoid sounding like an idiot in potential professional situations here?
What does an intelligent comment on a professor's work sound like? I'm specifically looking on how to do this in cover letters and interviews,
How do you, Professional Scientist, begin to parse and analyze an article, its methodology and its implications?
What are some things I can do to add to my functional, working knowledge of professional neuroscience, psychology and medicine?

Bonus points for ideas on how I can get work, either hands-on or editorial, with a lab in NYC.

Thanks, lovely Green!
posted by marsbar77 to Work & Money (3 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Scholarship involves conversation. Each article should be in conversation with other articles. Getting a sense of the conversation in the long and short term will go a long long way.
posted by k8t at 6:04 PM on May 16, 2015

To build on k8t's point, lots of scientists are having these conversations informally on Twitter these days. Maybe following a bunch of them would help you build up familiarity with the major topics of conversation and create a mental framework for situating the full-length articles you read. Similarly, you should be keeping up with the blogs written by professional scientists in your area -- not my field so I don't have specific recommendations, but I'd be shocked if there weren't any.

Also, don't beat yourself up that you don't have this skill set as a result of getting a BA. Learning how to read and critique the literature fluently is a pretty major part of many doctoral programs.
posted by somedaycatlady at 8:38 PM on May 16, 2015

Re: job advice (if you want to work in a lab), professors want to see your CV (so adapted resume), with your BA marks, and what you're interested in, if you are particularly competent in math or statistics or any programming languages that is a huge plus and needs to be highlighted.
What's most important is to be able to clearly express ideas and show that you understand the scientific techniques and the statistics used, that you understand what has been proven in a given research area and where research is heading, but again I would put a bigger focus on skills.

It's unfortunately not uncommon to have to volunteer to get an awesome experience which can lead to paid employment later or better opportunities, I'm talking if you want to work in a lab and help to run studies, enter data, or program experiments. Do you have any references from your BA professors, or could you ask them for a reference letter? That will help a lot.

If you want to get deeper into neuroscience, programming and statistics are a must and are a huge step ahead in most other research areas too, if you can become a quant/numbers/stats person it will help you no matter what.
posted by lafemma at 5:39 AM on May 17, 2015

« Older Dealing with parental guidance as an adult child   |   Is there a (non-alcoholic) drink that Australia... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.