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Molecular Cell How To Choose a Good Scientific Problem

Summary: Molecular Cell
How To Choose a Good Scientific Problem
Uri Alon1,*
1Department Molecular Cell Biology, Weizmann Institute of Science, Rehovot 76100, Israel
*Correspondence: urialon@weizmann.ac.il
DOI 10.1016/j.molcel.2009.09.013
Choosing good problems is essential for being a good scientist. But what is a good problem, and how does
a scientist choose one? The subject is not usually discussed explicitly within our profession. Scientists are
expected to be smart enough to figure it out on their own and through the observation of their teachers.
This lack of explicit discussion leaves a vacuum that can lead to approaches such as choosing problems
that can give results that merit publication in valued journals, resulting in a job and tenure.
The premise of this essay is that a fuller
discussion of our topic, including its
subjective and emotional aspects, can
enrich our science, and our well-being. A
good choice means that you can compe-
tently discover new knowledge that you
find fascinating and that allows self-


Source: Alon, Uri - Departments of Molecular Cell Biology & Physics of Complex Systems, Weizmann Institute of Science
Cicuta, Pietro - Polymers and Colloids Group, Cavendish Laboratory, University of Cambridge
Foundation of Research and Technology, Hellas, Institute of Applied and Computational Mathematics, Regional Analysis Division
Shorter, James - Department of Biochemistry and Biophysics, University of Pennsylvania


Collections: Biology and Medicine; Computer Technologies and Information Sciences; Engineering; Materials Science