With a degree in science, students stand to enter a very stable field. Job growth is expected to be fairly steady as more research will be needed to advance medical, defense, and consumer technology. For example, science grads may become biochemists or biophysicists, two careers that are expected to grow 31% by 2020, which is much faster than the national job growth average, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). In addition, environmental scientist and specialist careers are also expected to see significant growth over the next decade as environmental protection increases in importance.
In general, scientists fill a variety of important capacities in the workforce, working as chemists, pharmacists, environmentalists, and more. Those who devote their lives to careers in science have given us medical cures, technological wonders, and fascinating insight into the world around us. In fact, jobs for science majors are so important that President Obama recently announced government plans to dedicate $180 million for programs that will urge more young students to study science, technology, engineering, and mathematics, according to The New York Times.
This guide provides a wealth of free online resources for science students. These high-quality resources span the study of biology, chemistry, astronomy, earth science, and physics. It’s important to access information sources like these because they provide you with excellent industry-specific information as well as research material for your existing coursework. The best part is that not only do these abundant, free resources complement the materials you are already studying—they also provide you with all new information you wouldn’t have otherwise.
Open Access Journals
Open access journals provide immediate, free access to peer-reviewed, scholarly research articles. Typically, these resources are reached through the publishers’ websites. Open access means that there is unrestricted access to the resource via the Internet. The need for free access to educational content like scholarly journal articles was one of the primary factors in the development of open access.
For science students these kinds of journals are a powerful source of information. Open access journals are widely used by students searching for scholarly, peer-reviewed articles for their assigned research papers. They provide these articles, and even provide assistance with citing sources. are especially useful for science students because they are common in every scientific discipline and usually provide very detailed information.
Some of the best basic databases for finding great open access journals include:
- Directory of Open Access Journals
- Oxford Open
- Wiley Open Access
- OMICS Group
- Open Science Directory
- Open Access Journals Search Engine
Here are some excellent open access journals specifically for the sciences:
- Biology – MDPI: This journal publishes reviews, research papers and communications across the discipline of biology with detailed experimental and theoretical results. The motivation behind this detailed approach is that with the provision of full experimental details readers can reproduce the results.
- PLOS Biology – PLOS: This journal features articles from all areas of biological science, from molecules to ecosystems, but also includes some chemistry, medicine, and mathematics. It is intended for all of the international scientific community included educators, policy makers, patient advocacy groups, and the general public.
- International Journal of Evolutionary Biology – Hindawi: This journal publishes original research as well as review articles across the discipline of evolutionary biology.
- ChemistryOpen – Wiley: This journal covers all aspects of chemistry and also focuses on the way it interfaces with the life sciences.
- Chemistry Central Journal – Chemistry Central: This journal publishes work in all areas of chemistry including organic, inorganic, physical, biological, analytical, and environmental chemistry, materials and polymers, and food science.
- Journal of Chemistry – Hindawi: This journal publishes research and review articles in all areas of chemistry.
- New Astronomy – Elsevier: This journal publishes articles in all areas of astronomy and astrophysics, especially computational astronomy, including mathematical methodology, astronomy techniques and methodology, simulations, modeling and numerical results, and computational techniques in instrumentation.
- Advances in Astronomy – Hindawi: This journal publishes original research and review articles across the astronomy and astrophysics disciplines.
- Geosciences – MDPI: This journal publishes original papers, rapid communications, technical notes, review articles, and discussions focused across all sub-disciplines of the Earth and planetary sciences including solid earth, atmosphere, hydrosphere, and biosphere, as well as related issues of planetary and space sciences. The journal also provides information on Earth history, natural hazards, geology-related environmental problems, and geoethics.
- Advances in Geoscience – Copernicus Publications: This journal publishes collections of short articles on the Earth, planetary, and solar system sciences including papers presented at scientific meetings.
- Journal of Theoretical and Applied Physics – Springer: This journal publishes work on novel and frontier physics including condensed matter physics, theoretical physics, nonlinear science, statistical physics, mathematical and computational physics, general and cross-disciplinary physics (including foundations), atomic, molecular and cluster physics, plasma and fluid physics, optical physics, biological physics, nanoscience, laser and photonics, high energy, and nuclear physics.
- Journal of Modern Physics – SCIRP: This journal publishes articles focused on the latest in advancement of modern physics as well as short reports and book reviews.
- Physics Research International – Hindawi: This journal publishes original research and review articles in all areas of physics.
The WorldCat database is the world’s biggest collective library database. It itemizes the collections of more than 10,000 libraries which participate in the Online Computer Library Center (OCLC). The OCLC is dedicated to providing online, searchable access to information and is collectively built and maintained by the participating libraries.
Here are links to some basic WorldCat search results for the sciences:
Online Magazines and Industry News
Online magazines and websites offer a lightning fast way to stay up-to-date on science industry news. Staying up-to-date has many benefits beyond improving your studies; it also allows you to come across as competent to interviewers, peers, and professionals. And, of course, keeping current keeps you interested.
Here are some excellent online industry magazines and news websites:
- Science Daily: This is one of the most popular science news web sites with more than 3 million monthly visitors and almost 15 million page views a month. It is updated several times a day every day with breaking news and feature articles in all fields of the physical, biological, earth, and applied sciences.
- Scientific American: The oldest continuously published magazine in the U.S., this is considered to be a primary source and authority for science, technology information, and science-related public policy for a general audience.
- News.ScienceMag.org: This is the award-winning daily news site of the journal Science (the publication from the American Association for the Advancement of Science. It publishes breaking news on scientific research and analysis of science policy featuring live, weekly chats on hot topics in science and weekly podcasts.
- Motherboard: This online magazine and video channel features news, commentary, in-depth reporting, photos, and original video documentaries on the intersection of technology, science, and humans.
- Science News: This is the news site of the Society for Science and the Public, and it aims to inform and educate the general public about science by generating excitement through the publication of interesting science-related news.
- EurekaAlert!: This website provides news and resources focused on all areas of science, medicine and technology for the media and general public. It sources its information from universities, medical centers, journals, government agencies, corporations, and other research organizations engaged in research.
- National Geographic: This online magazine provides daily news, science information, blogs, photography, and other information.
- Nature: This magazine features science news, the latest research, blogs, and other resources.
Professional organizations provide you with countless opportunities to receive valuable training, networking, and mentorship opportunities, but they are worth even more than that. These organizations also allow you to connect socially with others in your field, and have a great time with people who have similar interests.
Here are some of the most notable professional membership organizations across the fields of biology, chemistry, astronomy, earth science and physics:
- American Chemical Society: This is the world’s largest scientific society and a leading source of authoritative scientific information. Chartered by the U.S. Congress as a nonprofit organization, the group is the professional home for tens of thousands of chemists, chemical engineers, and others in related professions around the world.
- American Association for the Advancement of Science: This organization seeks to advance science, engineering, and innovation internationally by improving communications between science professionals and the public, promoting and defending good science, being a voice for scientists, promoting diversity in science, fostering the disciplines, education, and technology for science-related activities, and promoting international cooperation.
- American Institute of Biological Sciences: This organization works to ensure that the public, legislators, funders, and biologists have access to information concerning the discipline by providing peer-review and vetting and by enhancing the professional ability of those in the field.
- National Academy of Sciences: This private, nonprofit membership group comprising some of the nation’s leading scientists, engineers, and medical professionals is the umbrella organization for the National Research Council (NRC), the National Academy of Engineering (NAE), and Institute of Medicine (IOM). The organization advances research and knowledge in science, engineering, and medicine and conducts policy studies at the request of the government.
- Genetics Society of America: This organization is the voice for professionals working in genetics, genomics, and bioinformatics and analysis of data. Its main functions include the advancement of scholarship in genetics, networking, mentoring, and advocacy on behalf of the genetics community.
- American Institute of Physics: This organization promotes the advancement of physics and its application to human welfare. It offers authoritative information, services, and expertise in physics education and student programs, science communication, government relations, career services for science and engineering professionals, statistical research in physics employment and education, industrial outreach, and the information on history of physics and allied fields.
- American Astronomical Society: This organization promotes broad interest in astronomy with the aim of improving scientific literacy and encouraging the pursuit of careers in science and engineering. It also provides networking, mentoring, and diversity support for members.
- Geological Society of America: This organization promotes the earth sciences by fostering research, providing networking and mentorship opportunities, and ensuring that members of the community meet and stay connected through professional conferences and other events.
You might think of blogs as a purely personal form of communication, but that’s not so. Many industry professionals maintain blogs, and through them provide important information, valuable advice, and insight into the industry. In fact, blogs offer you a unique opportunity to peek into the career of someone in your industry, without having to go through the usual interview process. Here are the some excellent blogs from biology, chemistry, astronomy, earth science and physics professionals:
- The Sceptical Chymist: This blog is posted by the editors of Nature Chemistry and is currently penned by various professionals in the field. It discusses new developments in chemistry and fosters spirited conversation.
- The Daily Galaxy: This daily blog presents written news and videos about science, technology, and popular culture.
- DC’s Improbable Science: This prize-winning blog is written by Professor of Pharmacology David Colquhoun. It is dedicated to exposing bad science.
- Mind Hacks: Like the book with the same title, this blog is written by Tom Stafford and Matt Webb and focuses on neuroscience and psychology.
- Watt’s Up With That?: This blog written by meteorologist Anthony Watts just won a “best blog” award in the category of science and is the most-viewed website on climate change in the world.
- JoNova: This blog is written by science writer Joanne Nova and focuses on skepticism, critical views on science-related issues, and stamping out “group think.”
- Superbug: This blog by Maryn McKenna reports all the breaking news from the medical microbiology and epidemiology communities.
- Not Exactly Rocket Science: One of the best things about this National Geographic blog is that the writing by Eg Yong is so good; it covers general science topics across the disciplines.
In addition to a great education, employers generally require a certain level of experience from prospective employees, making it difficult for recent graduates and new professionals to get hired. Fortunately, there is an easier way to gain the experience necessary to secure your dream job-getting an internship!
- American Association for the Advancement of Science Internship Opportunities (AAAS)- The AAAS is an international non-profit organization that offers full and part time internships to college-level students. With a goal to “advance science, engineering, and innovation throughout the world for the benefit of all people,” the AAAS is sure to offer a lot of experience to interns.
- Science.gov- This website, which exists to serve science students and professionals with information and research, lists a wide variety of internship opportunities for students at all levels including college faculty members who are seeking Fellowships.
- Internships.com- This website is a hub for information regarding internships. It serves students, employers and educators. For those seeking an internship, Internships.com offers a wealth of easy-to-use tools including a searchable database and the opportunity to upload a personal and professional profile.
- Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL)- The LLNL is a great organization for students interested in national security, as its efforts are geared toward increasing national safety through science based applications. Summer internships are offered for the following: computer science, engineering, and physical and life sciences.
- Society for Science & the Public (SSP)- Currently, SSP offers two internship positions-a writing and a communications internship-both of which further SSP’s mission of promoting science in the realm of human advancement. SSP, a non-profit organization, is the collective brain behind Science News, one of the leading science-based publications in the world.
- Volunteer.gov- This website acts as a portal to connect volunteers with organizations that need help. Once an organization discovers a need for assistance, they are able to log on to Volunteer.gov and create a listing. Individuals seeking experience can then search an easy-to-use database to find the type of volunteer position they are looking for.
- Boston Museum of Science- The Boston Museum of Science offers paid and unpaid internships to college students of all levels including freshman, sophomores, juniors and seniors, as well as graduate students. Interns have the exciting opportunity to work in one of the world’s largest science centers.
- Smithsonian- The Smithsonian features an overwhelming 60+ internships available to high school and college students. Stipends may be available for some positions, and other benefits include access to a world class museum and the guidance of industry professionals.
Finding a job can be difficult in today’s economy. With advancements in technology, employers are seeking candidates that are tech-savvy as well as educated and experienced, with great interpersonal skills to match. The ability to navigate a variety of high-quality resources will make your job search easier, and may include the use of the following websites:
- Science Careers- Science Careers is merely one component of the world class magazine, Science. Science Careers seeks to match industry professionals with a job that will utilize their skill set and benefit the industry as a whole.
- ScienceCareersNow.com- Science Careers Now is not only a website with a high functioning job board, it’s also a website that contains a wealth of industry related information such as the benefits and pitfalls of obtaining a career in the field of science.
- National Science Foundation (NSF)- The NSF is a government agency that funds scientific research and supports innovative projects. The NSF offers internship opportunities to high school and college students. Students are placed in a variety of positions, and may be eligible for a job once the internship period is over.
- NatureJobs.com- Nature Jobs is a part of Nature Publishing Group, a leading publisher of science journals, databases and services. Nature Jobs allows students and professionals the option to upload professional information to an online database that is available to industry employers. Job seekers can also search open positions.
- NewScientist.com- New Scientist Jobs offers an easy-to-use database for job seekers. Recent graduates and new professionals can take advantage of the A-Z Employers List, as well as a profile creation tool that will help employers find them.
- PhysicsToday.org- Physics Today is considered to be one of the best, if not the best, physics magazine in the world. Physicstodayjobs lets physics professionals upload their professional credentials to an online database, where employers can search for them as positions open up. Job seekers can also take initiative and search for employers that they are interested in working for, or who have posted open positions on the board.
- Linkedin.com- Linkedin is touted as one of the world’s most popular networking websites, and for good reason; every day Linkedin connects users in an attempt to fill open positions and further its user’s career goals. Today, Linkedin has become more of a social network than a job posting board, but the fact that it features both makes it a better option that more traditional job search databases.
Additional Science Resources
It is important to take advantage of unconventional educational resources. This kind of information seeking is invaluable to your studies, and what you find will also benefit your career and even your personal life.
We’ve gotten you started here, and there are a few more ideas listed below. You already know just how much information is out there; remember, every single minute on the Internet, 48 hours of video are uploaded to YouTube, for example. Keep looking for new resources!
- Apps for science majors
- iPad apps for science majors
- 10 tips for women students in science fields
- Index of open access science resources from the American Museum of Natural History
- Public Library of Science
- 10 things every future premed should know
- 12 facts only biology majors would love
- 26 sure signs you’re a physics graduate
- Career resources from Science magazine
- Alternative careers for scientists
- Social networks for scientists
- Nature Video Channel
- Big Think
- Newsy Science
- University of California Television
- Science Blogs
- Cooking for Engineers (and scientists)
- Smithsonian Magazine
- Real Clear Science