Core Competencies of a Successful Scientist

Office of Scientific Career Development

Core Competencies of a Successful Scientist

These are the skills that a scientist should have by the end of his/her training. These skills will allow the scientist to more successfully pursue and obtain permanent employment. The competencies were developed by the National Postdoctoral Association.

Scientific Knowledge

Acquired during graduate and postdoctoral training via coursework, mentoring and performing research

  • Analytical approach to defining scientific questions
  • Design of scientifically testable hypotheses
  • Broad-based knowledge acquisition
  • Interpretation and analysis of data

Research Skill Development

Acquired during graduate and postdoctoral training via performing research, mentoring and coursework

  • Laboratory techniques and safety
  • Experimental Design
  • Data analysis and interpretation
  • Statistical analysis
  • Effective search strategies and critical evaluation of the scientific literature
  • Principles of the peer review process

Communication Skills

  • Writing
    • Publications
    • Grants/applications
    • Career
      • CV and resume
      • Cover letters
      • Research and teaching statements
  • Speaking
    • Presenting your research
      • Posters
      • Conferences/seminars
      • Powerpoint presentations
    • The job interview
      • interviewing skills/overall presentation
      • job talks
    • Teaching
      • Classroom
      • Public
  • Interpersonal skills
    • Style, tone and nonverbal cues
    • Negotiation
    • Performance reviews/feedback
    • Difficult conversations/minimizing conflict
  • Networking

Leadership and Management Skills

  • Leadership Skills
    • Creating a vision and setting goals
    • Running meetings
    • Delegating responsibilities
    • Motivating/inspiring others
    • Mentoring/serving as a role model
    • Diversity-working with individuals with diverse gender, ethnic, cultural and religious backgrounds
    • Conflict management/resolution
  • Project Management
    • Time management
      • Establishing priorities
      • Planning the project timeline
    • Collaborative Science
      • Types of collaboration
      • Project goals
      • Expectations of collaborators

Responsible Conduct of Research