The job market for young scientists seems as difficult as ever. To help guide me through this difficult landscape I’ve picked out three books that span the whole of the last century.
The three books offer advice on what problems to expect in a scientific career, how to pick a research program, and suggestions of how best to work with colleagues.
Advice for a Young Investigator
The oldest of my selection, Advice for a Young Investigator was published at a time when science was moving away from the romance of the 19th century towards the industrial approach to science and technology of the 20th century.
Whilst much of the advice is no longer relevant, there is still much we can learn from the age of the gentleman scholar.
Advice to a Young Scientist
Advice to a Young Scientist by Nobel Prize winner Sir Peter Medewar was written in the 1970s, in a time when the modern concept of the ‘post-doc’ was just emerging.
The book is a good mixture of sound advice on what to expect from a scientific career, and the difficulties and rewards that a young scientist can expect along the way.
A PhD is Not Enough!
A PhD is Not Enough! is the most recently published of these three books.
It offers practical and un-romantic advice on scientific career planning, and aims to be a mentor for young scientists as they start out their careers.
Honestly, if you only read one book during your PhD, make it this one!