Science Breakfast: The Maze of Science: Which Path Should Research Follow?

Hosted by Else Kröner-Fresenius-Stiftung


Abstract

A poor scientist is one who does not have more experimental ideas than time or funding to carry them out. How do we and how should we decide which of the many paths open before us we should take? Of course we all dream of the big, groundbreaking discovery, but we know that this is hiding in the realm of the unexpected; at best waiting for us to recognize it, when we happen to come across it.

Whether a postdoc is planning her or his next project or a department head decides about the future direction of an institute: a prospective decision is inevitable - a choice between different possible paths must be made.

Should we be guided by societal needs?
Should we be guided by technological feasibility?
Should we follow easily available funding?
Should we simply follow other bright minds?
Should we aim at pushing the borders of knowledge where we think we can cover a maximum of uncharted ground?
Should we stop reasoning and follow our curiosity?

Once a field and a specific hypothesis have been chosen, we are in relatively safe waters: rules of good scientific practice, biostatistics, best practice examples and methodological knowledge from our field guide us. In the primary decision regarding which one of several possible and attractive paths to pursue in our research field, however, we typically stand alone. On the podium and with the participants we will compare and discuss different approaches to take such decisions.


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