Malcolm Gladwell has claimed that it takes at least 10,000 hours to become an expert in a given domain. Students interesting in pursuing a career as an academic or industry researchers may shudder at the prospect of enduring thousands of hours to become proficient conducting and disseminating research. What, if anything, is the best path to become particularly good at experimental design and writing scientific manuscripts? Gladwell's herculean task of accumulating 10,000 hours may not be as accurate or simple as he would have you believe.
Gladwell's book is based upon research by Anders Ericsson, and his interpretation broadly oversimplified the research. In fact, Ericsson and colleges work suggests there are three phases of skill development:
- Skill prior to practice,
- When practice has been initiated,
- Full-time involvement in tasks requiring skill.
However, a student designing mock studies and preparing manuscripts cannot be done in which the same piece of music might be played repeatedly until perfect. A musician might play a single piece of music in less than ten minutes, while an undergraduate research project, thesis, or dissertation can run weeks, months, or years. Thus, the first step is purposefully being designing research paradigms, which assumes a requisite understanding of research methodology. Similarly, building proficiency in writing manuscripts may start with smaller tasks, such as writing abstracts and summarizing empirical articles in the appropriate format, such as APA.
The differences between musicians and researchers do not undermine the validity of Ericsson's work. In some ways, the longer duration and collaborative nature of research projects may benefit students in that they exercise their skill-sets in different settings, with diverse groups, utilizing varied research methodologies, analytical strategies, and presentation styles. Building a variety of research projects over the course of a student's undergraduate and graduate career will likely increase their ability to formulate testable hypotheses. Similarly, mastery of a written style (such as APA) will become more fluid and fluent with practice, thus accelerating the rate at which a student can practice.
Once a student has developed rudimentary research and writing skills, it will be necessary to continue their formal and practical education. This may be done through academic placements, internships, or fellowships, such as locating a research laboratory actively involved in grand proposal writing, findings dissemination, and quantitative analysis. With enough practice and effort, a budding researcher might awaken and realize they've developed a unique and exciting line of research worthy of an advanced degree, grant, or early career position.
When using words alone, the scaffolded development of academic skills such as writing an research may seem easier (and perhaps, less exciting) than running a bow over strings whilst playing your favorite classical melody. A career in empirical research and publication is not for everyone. You may find, even as late as graduate school, that your interests or priorities have changed. That is perfectly normal. But if you want to become an expert researcher, you must do research. You must strive to understand not only the most recent developments in your chosen field, but also the seminal works and findings your path has been built upon.
If you want to be a researcher... and you want to be a writer, you need to stop. Stop reading. Write down a question. Now...
Go find the answer, and tell me what you learn.
REFERENCE: Expert Essay Writer Interviews: essaytalk.com.