Planning Your Scientific Journey: Outcomes from an online professional development course

 In 2018 Abstracts

Planning Your Scientific Journey: Outcomes from an online professional development course

Shannon Behrman, iBiology

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Despite its importance, training around how to ask scientific questions tends to be unstructured and variable, leaving some trainees without a good understanding of how to build a workable research problem. We address this gap in training through our free online course “Planning Your Scientific Journey” (bit.ly/BCLS-self-paced). The main objective of this course, and the other courses on iBiology Courses (courses.ibiology.org/), is to provide a foundation upon which life science trainees can build their unique scientific careers, regardless of their training environments or experiences.

The goals of PYSJ are to have students (1) critically evaluate potential research questions, (2) develop a research plan, and (3) prepare to meet with their mentor to discuss their plan. The free course is 6 weeks in length, requiring 1-3 hours of work per week. PYSJ is innovative in both curriculum design and video production. Course videos feature a collection of scientists with different backgrounds, career stages and scientific approaches. We ran PYSJ twice in 2017 and had a combined student enrollment of over 2000, representing a diversity of institutions. We would like to present the outcomes of PYSJ using analysis from: (1) pre and post-course surveys, (2) discussion forum posts, and (3) quantitative course user data. PYSJ is additionally now available as a self-paced, always-available course. We released another course called “Business Concepts for Life Scientists” in 2018 and will soon release a course on experimental design called “Let’s Experiment: A Guide for Scientists Working at the Bench” in early 2019.

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