Do You Have to Be a Genius to Do Great Science?

March 27, 2009

Apparently the jury is still out on this issue but the links below provide some encouragement:

Update: I have just found an interesting follow-up on the Cult of Genius post, The Cult of Theory, at Chad Orzel’s blog.

Update 2: an interesting recent discussion at the Backreaction blog.

Update 3: see this post by Peter Turney and this article


How to Maximize Citations

March 23, 2009

I have just found some great advice on how to boost your citation count, i.e., get more citations for your publications (which may, as you well know, increase your visibility in the science world and your chances of getting tenure) . An interesting discussion of the so-called Matthew effect in science (to start, see the classical papers by Robert K. Merton here, here, and here) and its influence on the citation patterns can be found here.

Update: I also found some interesting tips on how to get your papers cited here and here.

As for the general advice on writing research papers, see excellent writing tips from the blog of Terence Tao.

Update 2: making your work available online (e.g. at the arXiv; see this post of Terence Tao for further details) can significantly increase its chances to be cited (but be careful with the copyright issues when making available the work you have already published).

Update 3: Also, quite obviously, publishing your paper in a high-impact journal may increase its chances of getting cited. But submitting your papers to the journals perceived as prestigious has plenty of caveats — see e.g. this post by Terence Tao and this post by Massimo.

Update 4: see this post about the citation trading at


Michael Nielsen: Principles of Effective Research

March 12, 2009

Michael Nielsen: Principles of Effective Research

See also his blog for more career advice.

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How to Do Great Science: You and Your Research by Richard Hamming

March 10, 2009

Richard Hamming in his famous talk You and Your Research offers superb advice on how to do great science.

Update (via Stephen Kinsella):  This talk was also recently published here, so now one has an official reference to cite.

Update 2 (via the Unruled Notebook): the videos of a more recent version of this talk given by Hamming himself in the 90s are available here.

Further advice can be found in the other posts on this blog, e.g. here and here. Also, there are two recent  followup papers (On the Process of Becoming a Great Scientist and Ten Simple Rules for Doing Your Best Research, According to Hamming) that could be of  some interest.


Career advice from the Fields medalists and some other mathematicians

March 10, 2009

The career advice from Sir Michael Atiyah (see also his lecture containing some bits of career advice (hat tip: N.E.W.)), Béla Bollobás, Alain Connes, Dusa McDuff, and Peter Sarnak is here:

Advice to a Young Mathematician

This is an excerpt from The Princeton Companion to Mathematics. By the way, the most recent errata for PCM are here.

See  also great advice from E.W. Dijkstra and J.H. Conway, excellent  career advice and writing tips from the blog of Terence Tao, and Six Rules for Rewriting at the Michael Nielsen’s blog.

Finally, here go the interviews containing some nice bits of career advice:  Alain Connes, Maxim Kontsevich, Sergey Novikov, Terence Tao (see also his Google buzz page and this blog post).

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