Confessions of a researchaholic

August 12, 2012

What really matters

Filed under: Real — liyiwei @ 10:39 am
Tags: ,

(This post, as many others in this blog, was inspired by recent events and student questions.)

One of the most important principles for a happy life is to know what really matters. This can help you minimize efforts and maximize rewards.

If you are a PhD student, the most important thing is your research. So focus on getting good publications. There are other things that matter to some degree but are much less important, such as teaching experience for those who want to become professors, as well as those that are not important at all but made appear to be so by others for their own peculiar reasons, such as taking courses. None of these should take precedence over your research.

If you are a professor in a research university, what really matters is (again) your research. There are other things like teaching, services, funding, etc. that better not suck but should never take precedence over your research.

(June 2 2016 add on)
If you are a computer scientist, the most important thing is to build useful products. The ultimate measure of a research is its practical impact, not academic publications.
Publishing top papers is not easy, but we just need to convince a few reviewers.
Building top products is much harder, as we need to convince millions if not billions of users.
For my projects that have turned into both products and papers I am always much more excited about the former, and I care less about the latter as time moves on.

In summary, know what really matters, focus on these, and spend minimally possible effort for everything else (and have the gut to drop balls on these when necessary).

1 Comment »

  1. Have you ever thought of starting a start-up? Do you like making money?
    Or money doesn’t really matter, you just don’t care about wealth. You are going for intellectual wealth.

    Comment by loser — August 18, 2012 @ 6:39 pm | Reply

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