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How To Choose a Good Scientific Problem

October 10, 2011 Filed under Blog, Featured, Resources, Writing 

I have not found a more concise and clear statement about how to choose a good scientific problem for someone at various stages in their career.


Alon, U., 2009: How to choose a good scientific problem. Molecular Cell, 35, 726-728. DOI: 10.1016/j.molcel.2009.09.013. [PDF]

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2 Responses to “How To Choose a Good Scientific Problem”
  1. Chuck Doswell says:

    In my opinion, this chart is not only a bit too concise, but it embodies what I see as poor advice. Scientific problems that are simultaneously easy and capable of large knowledge gains are pretty hard to find! Those problems typically were done ages ago. Of course, if you manage to find one, choose it!

    For most scientists, most of the time, the task of finding a worthwhile scientific problem to investigate should be focused on the apparently empty middle ground of this diagram. I’d also advise young scientists to work on problems that are of great interest to them, irrespective of their location in this diagram. If you’re working in science for any other reason than your passion for the subject, then you’ve got it wrong.

  2. Good points, Chuck. Thanks for your comments!

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