Joint Meeting of PAC & Fellows (4/25/2016)

April 25, 2016

Joint Meeting of PAC & Fellows (4/25/2016)

Identifying good ideas

1. Need information and experience to identify a good idea (should not make decisions from a naive perspective)

  • It's something novel
  • Whether an idea is fundable is something you think about after you decided to pursue an idea (i.e., the question of funding comes   later in the process. If it's truly a good idea then the funding will follow)
  • Exploring a novel environment is one thing but consider what are some possible results and, most importantly, what will you do       with those results
  • A good idea is rarely chosen based on one criterion; its an organic process
  • Developing good ideas means practicing articulating them to others and asking for their feedback

2. Where does inspiration for a good idea come from?

  • Get information outside of your small group (e.g., go to seminars in other departments)
  • One level at which scientists from many different fields can relate on is "process" or approach
  • Go beyond correlations and get into mechanisms
  • Demonstrating correlations only does not enable management

3. When you think you have a good idea, design experiments to try to prove yourself wrong; put your idea through tests

  • If you are looking for a specific signal, you can even stack the cards against yourself in terms of when you decide to sample or how you sample and in the end if you still find a signal then that is something powerful (in other words, consider the signal to noise ratio when you will be testing your good idea)

4. Make time for distraction free reflection
5. Knowing when to call it quits on an idea is not formulaic
6. Don't put a PhD student on something methodological