Wednesday, October 18, 2006

How to win a Nobel

PLOS this week has a review of the book "how to win a Nobel" by Peter Doherty. Here's a few pearls:
(1) Learn to write clearly and concisely. The problem with much of science is that the scientists hurt their own efforts by being unintelligible.
(2) Be generous and culturally aware. Acknowledge the achievements of others. Every young scientist needs frequent reminders that it is important to have as few enemies as possible.
(3) Time is precious. Women in particular are vulnerable to “death by committees,” and their representation is sorely needed.
(4) Avoid prestigious administrative roles. This is a major source of destruction, particularly to those from clinical backgrounds. Now a sometimes beleaguered vice chancellor, I can only underscore the importance of this point.
(5) Live a long time. It may take 50 years for the Nobel recognition of a discovery!
Also I warmly recommend Santiago Ramon y Cajal's classic from 1898, Advice to a Young Investigator.