Daniel Lemire's blog

, 6 min read

Attributes of good research

9 thoughts on “Attributes of good research”

  1. Peter Turney says:

    Hmm. Substitute “art” for “research” and it still works. Substitute “athletic achievement” and it still works. What’s the most abstract term that subsumes these special cases? “Excelling”?

  2. Evan Meagher says:

    Good post. I’ve been reading a lot of Graham’s essays lately and a common theme is the comparison of the design/startup mentality to that of academia. I’d be interested to read your thoughts on this article in particular: http://www.paulgraham.com/desres.html

  3. Francois Rivest says:

    “Research is a solitary task.”
    I am not sure this is how it should work!

  4. @Turney I’m well aware that “doing research” is just an instance of “design/excelling”, at least the way I do it.

    @Meagher Thanks for the link. I did not know about this essay. It is an excellent one. Paul screws them up sometimes, but this was one of his best ones.

    @Rivest Well. I don’t think you can write a Ph.D. thesis collaboratively. It was never meant to work that way.

  5. @jeremy I wrote that research is fundamentally social.

  6. Maybe on the first point, the idea is that in order for it to succeed, it must fail.

  7. jeremy says:

    @Daniel: But a PhD Thesis is supposed to be solitary. I find that since then, my best work comes when I’m actively banging my head against the objections of my colleagues, and they’re actively firing back their own ideas, until we collectively come up with something to test. Then we test it. Then we move on to another round of Hegelian dialectic.

    It seems to work.

  8. jeremy says:

    Solitarily social?

  9. Francois Rivest says:

    @Daniel: Right, and I think this leads to bad habits (such as solitary work). Although it may seems quite solitary in computer science… I think there are a lot of interdisciplinary work that would benifit from more team work. Moreover, science is NOT just about writing a PhD thesis. (You are still doing research, aren’t you?) Finally, if you write a thesis with publications, you will certainly have co-authors, possibly including some that are not your supervisor.
    @Jeremy: I agree with you.