What makes a productive scientist

This blog about William Shockley is a fantastic way to identify strengths and weaknesses in publishing papers, which is neccessary both to stay in academia and often to change career, especially if you are going to change after one post-doc.

The idea is that you need to be ok at all the items listed, as it is a multiplicative series of hurdles.  However if you’re terrible at any of them you won’t publish well.

Here’s the list:

  1. ability to think of a good problem
  2. ability to work on it
  3. ability to recognize a worthwhile result
  4. ability to make a decision as to when to stop
    and write up the results
  5. ability to write adequately
  6. ability to profit constructively from criticism
  7. determination to submit the paper to a journal
  8. persistence in making changes (if necessary as a result of
    journal action).

I have run through the list to recognise my strengths and weaknesses:
Strengths: 2, 5, 6, and 8.  ie I can work hard and persistently and communicate my ideas well
Weaknesses: 1 and 4 ie thinking of the problem and knowing when its done!

I really recommend reading the post, it’s inspiring, comforting and scary all in one.


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