N Skills Every Scientist Should Have

A little while back, Popular Mechanics published a list of 25 Skills Every Man Should Know. Seven of the 25 are car-related, another four have to do with construction, and an additional six are outdoorsy things. Of course, they also threw in “extend your wireless network,” for the nerds out there, but it does tend toward the parodically ManlyMan side of things.

In response, Cut to the Chase posted a list of 20 “practical skills every self-sufficient adult should have”, which probably errs in the other direction, with entries that are far too humorlessly sensible. (Though I notice that “Know basic nutritional needs & how to plan balanced meals” makes the list, but nothing about cooking said meal…). There’s probably a “meme” in this, but I’ll save that for another post.

Anyway, the reason for this post is that it occurs to me that a similar list could be developed for scientists. So, here is the beginning of a list of N Skills Every Scientist Should Have (in the order in which they occurred to me):

A scientist should be able…

  1. … to plan and carry out a simple experiment.
  2. … to construct and test a simple theoretical model.
  3. … to operate a computer.
  4. … to interpret a graph.
  5. … to understand algebra.
  6. … to calculate and interpret simple statistical quantities (means, medians, standard deviations).
  7. … to understand simple calculus (basic derivatives and integrals).
  8. … to write a technical paper explaining a new result.
  9. … to write a grant proposal.
  10. … to give a “cocktail-party” explanation of thier work in layman’s terms.
  11. … to give an hour-long seminar about their research.
  12. … to read and evaluate the papers of other scientists in the field.
  13. … to read and evaluate general-audience articles about other sciences.
  14. … ?

I’m sure this isn’t a complete list. What am I missing?


(Note that this is intended to be a general science lit, not a list of discipline-specific skills. If it was a list of skills a physicist should be able to do, “solder” would’ve made it…)

(Also, please note that I am aware of the famous Robert Heinlein quote, which you can find in this collection of historical ManlyMan skills lists, so don’t bother leaving it in the comments.)

(Original link via Republic of T.)