Tuesday, August 10, 2010

10 Things I Wish I Would Have Learned In School

Not stuff that would be more appropriately acquired on the job, but academic stuff that would have been helpful and appropriate during the school years. And let me be clear: I'm certainly not picking on my teachers and professors, most of who were quite good.

  1. Solubility parameters - oh, oh so useful in understanding polymer dissolution (and I'm talking about far more than just the Hildebrand cohesion parameter).
  2. When you need to talk to an electrical engineer about rheology, use "capacitors" and "resistors" instead of "springs" and "dashpots".
  3. "The Scientific Method", but only so I would know how non-scientists think I work (4 years of undergrad, 5 years of grad school and never once was the term used).
  4. Statistical process control, because it can be useful.
  5. Designed experiments, because other people think they are useful and you need to know what they are up to.
  6. How to effectively referee an article.
  7. Polymer additives. Everyone understands the polymers, but without the additives, all you have is a lab curiosity.
  8. That "IV" means inherent viscosity, not intrinsic viscosity. (The former is just a value generated by a QC test while the latter is directly related to molecular weight via the Mark-Howink equation.)
  9. That PVA can be poly(vinyl acetate), poly(vinyl alcohol) or whatever combination exists between the two (the latter is made by hydrolysis of the former and the extent of hydrolysis can vary considerably)
  10. That polymer chemistry, far from being dead, is more alive and robust than many fields of chemistry.
What's on your list?


Eric F. Brown said...

I co-reviewed a paper with my advisor in grad school, which was nice of him to offer. I also got to review a paper right after I left school. I recommended publication, but the paper never made it into the journal. And, I've never had to review another paper since.

John said...

The RSC hits me up on a pretty regular basis. I know there is no formal training, everybody does it differently...but I think somebody could put together a pretty decent checklist of things to look over.

Our reports here are normally internally reviewed, so that helped prep me for the role - that and reading an awful lot of atrocious papers over the years!