Important Characteristics of Scientists

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  • 0:00 What Is a Scientist?
  • 1:40 Key Characteristics of…
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: David Wood

David has taught Honors Physics, AP Physics, IB Physics and general science courses. He has a Masters in Education, and a Bachelors in Physics.

Learn what scientists are and find out about the various characteristics, including curiosity and creativity, that are important for scientists to have in order to be successful. When you're through, test your knowledge with a brief quiz.

What Is a Scientist?

A scientist is a person who is researching or has expert-level knowledge in a field of science. Okay, but what is science? Well, science is the application of systematic processes like observation and experimentation to the study of what things are made of and how they behave. Astronomy, geology, and biology are just a few of the many scientific fields.

Scientists attempt to explain the natural world - everything about it. And, they do that using the scientific method. The scientific method focuses on making observations, finding ways of explaining those observations that remain consistent, and then testing those ideas. When an idea is shown to not be true, new ideas are presented and tested. Science continually challenges what we believe to be true, collecting new data and making sure it's consistent with what we believe.

There are several characteristics that are common among people who decide to pursue a career as a scientist, characteristics that lend themselves to carrying out the kind of work scientists do. These include strong observational skills, curiosity, logic, creativity, skepticism, and objectivity.

There are so many ways of being a scientist, it would be impossible to list them all. Scientists can work in a laboratory, using theoretical equations and models; for a company or the government; cataloging plants and animals in the rainforest; as astronauts in space; or as educators.

Key Characteristics of Scientists

There are certain characteristics that are useful or necessary to be a good scientist. In this lesson, we'll talk about six of them:

Careful observation is an important characteristic of scientists. Since science relies on observational evidence, your scientific theories are only as good as the observations you've made. When you measure things or watch things, it must be done carefully and with good technique. Every measurement has uncertainty. Nobody is perfect at observing and measuring, but scientists tend to be better than most.

Curiosity is another important characteristic. Generally, people don't get into science in the first place if they're not curious about the natural world. It's this curiosity that makes the subject interesting to a scientist, and it's also the motivation for doing research. Why would you do research if you're not interested and curious about the outcome? The world is an amazing place, with a lot to explore and discover. Scientists tend to get very excited about what they might find.

Logic is vital for scientists. Researching a topic and taking data can be frustrating at times. It might turn out that the ideas you were attached to were wrong. When that happens, it takes a logical mind to put aside your feelings for the greater good of science. It also takes a logical way of thinking to make sense of the observations you make. Sometimes the observations can be very complicated and only thinking logically can help make sense of it.

Creativity might seem like something you'd only use in art class, but the best scientists are highly creative. It doesn't take creativity to follow instructions and do some basic research, but when scientists make huge leaps in our understanding - when people like Einstein suggest things that nobody else has even thought of - they're thinking creatively. Just having logic on your side might lead you to straightforward solutions, but having your mind open to wild ideas and crazy thoughts can lead you to some amazing discoveries.

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