Daniel Lemire's blog

, 1 min read

Attributes of good research

Paul Graham gives a list of attributes characterizing start-ups. It strikes me that many of these attributes could describe research projects as well:

  1. Good research projects fail. If there is no risk of failure, you are doing unoriginal research. (Except that out of my biggest failures have come out some of my best papers…)
  2. Good research directions change frequently. Otherwise, how can you be following the truth where it must lead you? (Except that if you keep changing direction, you’ll never get anything done.)
  3. It takes little money. While some research projects are expensive, Einstein changed Physics forever without a research grant. (Except that if you are worrying about your next pay check, you can hardly worry about research.)
  4. Good research is threatening. If your research never upsets anyone, maybe you are not pushing hard enough? (Except that you should not be bold just for boldness sake.)
  5. Research is a solitary task. Ultimately, all research projects involve many hours working alone. (Except that research is fundamentally social!)