How do scientists decide what to investigate? Often, they choose an area that is in high demand, hoping to get their work into the best journals as soon as possible.
According to Uri Alon, of the Weizmann Institute of Science in Israel, this strategy can be demotivating if the goals are not met, especially to younger scientists. Instead, he advises researchers to follow a less direct approach, where setbacks are considered part of the process of discovery.
Ronen Zaidel-Bar recommends the article on the f1000 Biology website. "In the face of the cruel reality of 'publish or perish', Uri Alon offers some clear guidelines to help students and mentors nurture self-motivated research", writes Zaidel-Bar.
Alon's commentary, published in the journal Molecular Cell, gives practical advice for researchers at all stages of their career. He encourages scientists to take time before they commit to a problem, and ultimately choose what they find most interesting, rather than what is in demand.
Zaidel-Bar, who is a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, agrees that "research motivated by our true interest is much more rewarding and resilient to the setbacks of scientific inquiry."
Notes to Editors
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