Sunday, August 1, 2010

Excellent Advice for a Research Career

Shuang linked to this excellent advice on selecting research topics. I have tried to follow these rules in my career. I had no idea though that they had been written down by someone in this form. Occasionally though the need to get money and/or get published fast has over-ridden these guidelines, but as long-term criteria I think they are very good if you are really a serious/ambitious researcher.

The third rule is:

"Never tackle a problem of which you can be pretty sure that (now or in the near future) it will be tackled by others who are, in relation to that problem, at least as competent and well-equipped as you."

I would modify this. Perhaps, the "near future" is the critical point here. If you think others can tackle the problem in a much better way than you and are likely working on it right now, then leave it alone, but if they would do roughly the same thing as you but you are pretty sure that you have had the idea way before anyone else, why not go for it?

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