Read this post by Matt Gemmell, a cocoa programmer. It’s an essay (or perhaps a rant) about a trend he sees among computer science students:
The problem is that increasingly, the problem-solving technique used by students is to ask for the solution. Of course this is not problem solving, and software engineering is entirely about problem solving.
What isn’t acceptable is the unwillingness to use a process of self-education, honest attempts and the classic iterative process of refinement and improvement until something acceptable is arrived at. This process in turn equips you better to handle the next challenge, and sooner or later you find that:
- there are entire sets of familiar problems to which you already know the answer and can approach with confidence; and:
- you’re quite capable of approaching unfamiliar problems by generalising your current knowledge and conducting some simple focused research.
Here’s a secret: willingness and desire to learn are the true qualifications, not ability.
Although his essay is aimed at students in computer science degree programs and software engineering, the principles are just as valid for graduate students (and indeed graduates) in the sciences.
Getting your Ph.D. is not the goal … it is a benchmark along the way. To be a successful scientist you have to learn not just the answers to questions, but how to GET the answers to questions on your own.