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Member Research & Reports

Member Research & Reports

Johns Hopkins: Nature Column Urges Training PhD Students to Be Thinkers, Not Just Specialists

Dr. Gundula Bosch, program director and assistant scientist at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, calls for reform of PhD programs, writing:

Under pressure to turn out productive lab members quickly, many PhD programmes in the biomedical sciences have shortened their courses, squeezing out opportunities for putting research into its wider context. Consequently, most PhD curricula are unlikely to nurture the big thinkers and creative problem-solvers that society needs.

That means students are taught every detail of a microbe’s life cycle but little about the life scientific. They need to be taught to recognize how errors can occur. Trainees should evaluate case studies derived from flawed real research, or use interdisciplinary detective games to find logical fallacies in the literature. Above all, students must be shown the scientific process as it is — with its limitations and potential pitfalls as well as its fun side, such as serendipitous discoveries and hilarious blunders.

Dr. Bosch directs the School’s R3 Graduate Science Initiative.

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