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    Good Qualities of a Researcher: A Note to Beginners
    By Camilo Tabinas y ... | July 24th 2010 06:47 AM | 11 comments | Print | E-mail | Track Comments
    About Camilo Tabinas

    He is both a chemist and an educator. He teaches General chemistry, organic, and biochemistry for health sciences students as well as introductory...

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    There is a researcher within us just waiting to be unleashed.

    Being good according to Webster's Universal Dictionary and Thesaurus (2005) means having the right and proper qualities.  If these qualities are needed to achieve certain objectives, then success is a consequence of being good. That is, a good researcher should possess the right
    and desirable properties or qualities in order to succeed in his researches.

    What are these good qualities of a researcher? One may say, “ all the good values. Just name it”. Yes, it’s true. However,  it is just too broad to consider all of them. We can trim down the good values into more practical and specific.
    To be more specific, let us divide these good qualities into three:  The Basics qualities, the good qualities on the process, and the good qualities upon success. The basic qualities of a researcher are intelligence, honesty, curiosity and initiative, enough knowledge, and good in oral and written communication.            
    It cannot be denied that a researcher must be intelligent enough. Anyway, it is unlikely for a person who is not intelligent enough to ever think of doing a formal research and turn it to a book or a published article.  Research requires critical analysis, logical reasoning and common sense.  You don’t have to worry because if you are reading this article, it is likely that you are intelligent enough.

    You may have the required intelligence but if you are not curious and initiative
    enough, you will not find a reasonable problem for research study, specially these days where researches bloom and many of the easier problems had already been studied.

     Going into formal research will require you to have the basic knowledge on how to do  research. This will save you from unnecessary errors.   Erroneous research may require you to repeat your work and waste time, effort, and even money.

    One may do research just to satisfy his hunger for knowledge or just for his own
    advantage.  Yes, satisfying oneself is a common human desire but it will be selfish and futile if you will not share your research after it is done.  Sharing you research may be done through publications and presentations in seminars or conferences. Your skills in oral and written communication are important.  In a seminar on presenting papers in conferences sponsored by the Philippine Association of Graduate Education (PAGE) Dr. Delfin (2012) pointed out that though being fluent in the language you use is of advantage, it should be remembered that the main purpose of the presentation is to SHARE your work. Thus, I may say that we have to build our confidence more on the substance of our work (that we are going to share) rather than just being too conscious of perfecting the language we are going to use for presentation. Non-verbal communication such as appropriate gestures, facial expressions, even smiles may also be of help. The bottom line: YOU MUST BE UNDERSTOOD. 

     A research may seem  successful, but may be dangerous if done dishonestly.  This is even worse if there is a cooperative dishonesty among researchers.  Example, a medicine claimed by researchers to cure certain illness and lie about its adverse effect can be deadly.

    Really, research is a serious one that it is often tedious.   A healthy researcher can go through all the stresses and discomforts of research work.  if it is time to relax, relax.  It is time to
    eat, eat( proper diet). If it is time to exercise, exercise, so that if it is time to go back to work on your research you can have a better focus.

    It is more interesting to note the good qualities needed by a researcher in the dynamic parts of doing research.  We can call these qualities as the good qualities on the process.  They are as follows:

    Diligence and persistence, creativeness and innovativeness, objectiveness, open mindedness, orderliness and cleanliness, cautious, accuracy and precision, quickness and responsiveness, Keenness, systematic and reasonableness, and cooperation and leadership.

    Going to different libraries, sleepless nights surfing the internet, gathering data, repeating experiments- is not a joke.  A good researcher is not just born overnight. Be ready  with your diligence and patience.                 

    A  time when the data seem to be not reliable, the methods do not seem to work, and other irritating difficulties encountered in doing research.  Don’t give up. Be creative in making things possible and be innovative in ways to solve the problems encountered in the process. Adjust, modify or even revise if you may, but don’t you quit. However, remember you should learn to follow ethical procedures in doing research.

    Often time a researcher has his own expectations of the outcomes in which over-excitement may lead him to become bias either consciously or unconsciously.  Be objective. Interpret data objectively. Do not manufacture or discard data to suit your biases or expectations but probably on statistical, logical, and/or experimental grounds.             
    Should there'll be an incident where one will give a negative comment on your research in the process, do not be embarrassed, do not feel insulted or angry, instead be happy and thankful for all you know, the negative comments are the stepping stones for you to succeed in your research study. Be open-minded and be willing to consider corrections and suggestions from others.

    What’s taking you so long?  Could not find your draft, ball pen, or journal?  Be orderly,
    learn to put and keep things at the right places. Organize and file documents, data, instruments, etc. in an orderly manner. This will save you time in looking for them, more so, in order to avoid collecting data again to compensate for what may  have been lost.

    Something may go wrong with your laboratory experiments simply because you forgot to clean a test tube. Be extra conscious on cleanliness.

    Accurate and precise data are of importance in research. Data are the pillars of your conclusions. So, be extra cautious in collecting data and in performing an experiment.  Not only the data are guarded, but also your health and the health of others when you are extra cautious and always try to be accurate and precise in your work. Accidents can happen anytime when you are not cautious and careful  to consider safety.

    What should be done must be done at once. Yes, it should be kept in mind that timing is also important in dealing with situations and in dealing with other people specially in asking permissions or approvals. However, unnecessary procrastination should have no room in research.  Be quick and responsive.

    Overlooking something is not an excuse.  You should be able to detect even the slightest change. So be keen in observing and be careful and  accurate in recording data.

    First thing first. If you will be confused with so many things to do, you will end up doing nothing. Plan ahead.  Be systematic in your schedules and be reasonable in setting your priorities.              

    A time may come when your research will require you to lead a team of researchers- be skillful in leadership. Encourage cooperation for it plays a vital role in a team.

    At last you are done with your research. You have succeeded in generating the outputs of your research.  Remember good qualities of a researcher do not end here. There are still important qualities upon success: contentment and willingness to be of service   Contentment is good. This means you are satisfied and happy of your success.  It is alright to relax before jumping into another research. Celebrate your success.

    Humility may be needed to conform to some society’s expectations.  However, to be proud of ones hard work is a thing that you can claim.              

    It is better if a researcher is willing to share his work so it can be benefited by the community  or even the entire world. Sharing your work doesn’t only mean sharing the outputs but also sharing the experiences you gained from doing research in which other researchers can learn. A little like “a note to beginners”.  

    Remember there is a researcher within us. It is just waiting to be unleashed.

    Go! Do your research. Do it now!
    Good (2005).Webster's Universal Dictionary  and Thesaurus (p.229, reprinted).  Scotland:                  Geddes&Grosset.



    Your article has not gone un-noticed.  I have been wanting to comment on it since its publication, perhaps in the form of "a note from a finisher", since I am due to retire in less than two months' time.  But I am overwhelmed with things to do, since not only do I retire, but the department is closing on the same day, and "they" want us out.   Moreover, you have raised a thousand points in one article, so "Where do I begin?"  (Yes, I have started to hum the theme from Love Story.)

    However, if one were to have looked at your criteria at the start of my research career, I would never have passed muster.  It would have been a case of tests in the wind tunnel proving that this bumble bee could never fly.  (But in Oxford at least, they do manage.)
    Robert H. Olley / Quondam Physics Department / University of Reading / England
    Bonny Bonobo alias Brat
    Camilo, I also think your article is very good. I am trying to decide whether to continue at uni doing research and I find this article a useful tool to help me to clarify my thoughts on the subject.
    My article about researchers identifying a potential blue green algae cause & L-Serine treatment for Lou Gehrig's ALS, MND, Parkinsons & Alzheimers is at http://www.science20.com/forums/medicine
    Though it is sad to know that your department is going to be phased out, it is not bad of course to retire. Retiring can also mean many opportunities ahead  to venture into, at your level, in a more relaxing, satisfying ways where you are the Boss of your time and space.

    At times when awareness becomes confusing, acceptance is soothing and prayers are relaxing. Thinking that there are many opportunities that await us outside the four corners of a room we became used to, is encouraging. Thinking of the good thing we have, family, friends, and good health, is inspiring.  Shall I say, the world is full of possibilities that we cannot even imagine until we  stop imagining and there we are feeling its presence.  Thanks for the comment though.
    Good luck and more blessings


    Helen whatever is that you have decided for yourself, I am pretty sure it is for the best.

    It took me awhile, just this time I reread you comments that I missed the last paragraph
     if one were to looked at your criteria at the start of my career, i would never have passed muster.
     I would appreciate if  you can elaborate what you meant. I wonder why you would "never have passed muster" . Considering your vast experience in research, I would appreciate any contribution from you to improve my article so as others will be inspired as well. Anyways, I am honored that my article has caught your attention.

    I would appreciate if you can elaborate what you meant
    Here goes.  These, I think, are the three bad eggs.
    Be orderly, learn to place and keep things at the right places ..... Couldn’t find your draft, ball pen, or journal? Be orderly, learn to place and keep things at the right places. Organize and file documents, data, instruments, etc. in orderly manner.
    A chronic problem, even to date (I am recently retired.)  I think the locative part of my brain is perhaps not so well developed.  Or maybe that a distracting thought often derails that sort of information before it’s got through the hippocampus (if that’s the appropriate part of the brain.)
    Your skills in oral and written communication are important.
    Such things were unheard of when I was in my teens (around 1960).  Things like write-ups were a matter of “doing it right”, rather than considering the question “will this make sense in one month / year / decade’s time?”  Again, it only really struck me recently when trying to write up stuff from twenty years previously.

    My worry concerning teaching these skills today is that this may also end up “according to formula” – “your communication should contain these five elements.  Please tick the boxes”.
    Diligence and persistence
    I have always been easily derailed, especially by unhelpful or harsh comments from a boss.  That’s an emotional problem, but these affect researchers as much as other human beings.
    Robert H. Olley / Quondam Physics Department / University of Reading / England

    Thanks for your honest clarification Robert.

            One thing I learn from your clarification is that individual uniqueness always influences most of us. Like students differences in learning styles, teachers differences in teaching styles... we could probably say that there may be researchers differences in research styles which obviously is not considered in the article.

            The article is based on my personal experiences as a beginner in research, doing my undergraduate thesis and later my masters thesis. I often laugh when I recall some the embarrassing experiences and stupid steps I made in doing those theses. The good thing is that nobody was watching me when I was doing these theses so there is no reason to be embarrassed and the write ups did not reveal these, or just lucky that they were not noticed.

            Now that I am doing my dissertation, though I am almost done with the study, in the process I am learning that motivation and inspiration play also an important role.This, aside from stresses (since i am full time teaching while doing this study) may have been the cause of my off and on writer's block.       

             I believe there is nothing wrong with you Robert considering your vast experience in research, you have never been passed muster. You are just being who you are. Yes you are right, the criteria in the article could probably cause you to be passed muster if strictly  considered or imposed on you. By that, the criteria could be more practical if researchers individual differences be considered which I believe can  be a good subject for a new study.

    Camilo, I have just come across this article and I, too, have enjoyed it.

    Something may go wrong with your laboratory experiments simply because you forgot to clean a test tube.
    Or because, like me, you absent-mindedly set the current through a bunch of LEDs way too high.  When white light LEDs give out blue light it is way too late to turn down the current.  They go from white to blue to brown to dead in seconds flat. :-)
    Yesterday, alerted by RCS, I read this:

    Why LED Bulbs Are So Inefficient
    - Shaunacy Ferro, Popular Science

    [LEDs] have a bit of a drooping problem: at higher currents, the amount of light they produce takes a nose-dive.

    ... work, published in a forthcoming issue of the _Physical Review Letters_, identifies the source of the droop as a process called Auger recombination, a non-radiative process that produces heat.
    Robert H. Olley / Quondam Physics Department / University of Reading / England
    a non-radiative process that produces heat

    That sounds about right!  :-)
    My (ultimately successful) experiment used multiple LEDs running at low currents to produce adequate illumination with extended battery life.  I'll do a writeup here at science20.com one day.
    WA SAI

    This article was cited in a Conference Presentation "Meeting the Challenges of Doing Research" by Dr. Kiyu, et al. at the Nursing and Allied Health Conference 13-15, July 2012, Sibu Sarawak, Malaysia.    
    I am happy that this article finds its way in the hands of  Dr. Kiyu et al., for in a way, promoting this article to be of benefit to others. 

    You can find/download Dr. Kiyu et al. presentation  through the site below, "Meeting the Challenges of nDoing Research" nahc.snpa.org.my/modules/wfdownloads/visit.php?cid=2&lid=3‎. The article was cited in pages/slides 76,77,78 of this presentation.

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