The nature of scientific work : a study of how science is used in work settings and the implications for education and training programmes
This thesis explores the work of scientists and shows how a description of the main characteristics of scientific work can be constructed. This description forms the basis of a critical appraisal of how scientific education and training could develop to better match the needs of those who wish to pursue a career in science. In the early chapters authoritative reports on science, technology and mathematics in the context of work are analysed to create an overview of how scientists work, of their role within the UK economy and of the knowledge and skills which charactense their expertise. The main part of the research study is the creation of an evidence base which includes data from interview, work observation and documents. Scientists from 28 organisations contributed information and opinion, these people covered the main domains of science. The organisations included both public and private and ranged from small departments to research units in multi-national companies. The data is summarised under headings which have a bearing on the education and training of scientists. Particular attention is given to scientific explanatoiy concepts, concepts concerned with planning experiments, practical skills and analytical skills. The research has revealed the critical importance of a range of non-scientific skills. A commentary on the views of working scientists on aspects of scientific education and training is given and a preliminary match and mismatch analysis of work practice and general educational provision is sununarised. The thesis covers ground which is poorly researched therefore some theoretical constructions have been developed to aid research of this kind. The research shows how the analysis of practice has potential for modemising educational provision, leading to more efficient use of resources and bringing greater relevance to educational courses.