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    Inicio > Historias > The value of ideas

    The value of ideas

    Talking with a physicist acquanintance about the number of papers we had submitted to a recent conference (9), he replied:
    -I don't have that many ideas in a whole year.
    In science ans in life, there are people who have ideas and those who haven't. But it's probably more worth the while to have a single idea and take it to bear fruit, than having thousands of them and leaving them in your Moleskine notebook or in the air of a single conversation. If an idea is not published, or built, or sold, it amounts to nothing.
    That means that, at the end of the day, the really successful people are not those that spend their time having ideas. Ideating, if there's such a thing, takes only a tiny amount of time of the process. The vast amount is taken implementing the idea, debugging it, testing it, and here comes the boring part, doing experiments, writing them down, making mistakes, doing them again, writing it, sending it to a journal or congress, and so on and so forth.
    The upside to it is that once you've got the process streamlined, you can have a single idea and stretch it to several publications, every single publication will take less of your time, which you can devote either to have more ideas or to take also those ideas to success.
    The plain truth is that nobody will have as an epitaph "He had many ideas", but "His h-index is 999" or "He published so many books" or "he patented a single idea of which he lived the rest of his life".
    Tags: , ,

    2008-06-07 09:17 | 9 Comment(s) | Filed in Just_A_Scientist

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    De: Marcelo Fecha: 2008-06-07 18:01

    Hi, JJ!

    Congratulations for the papers!

    In Brazil it is useless "publishing" on conference proceedings, since it has almost no (academic) value if compared to a more traditional magazine/transaction/letters publication. It is frequent Brazilian researchers using their conference publications just as an excuse to travel and to enjoy a, let's say, small vacation. Let alone that, no so much rarely, all the authors travel along! Then, publish on a magazine is much more interesting and useful than a conference/congress/etc.

    Upon the amount of papers, I really think it is too much for a single(?) year, but, I must confess, I do not know the inner working and ways of Spanish academic system and how it evaluates its researchers (through amount of publications, their quality, the number of authors, etc.). I say that because the "system" itself - sometimes - enforces the researcher to deal with that, that is: "If you do not publish, you are done!"

    In my university, there is a lab whose director published last year 17 papers! Surely, all of them at conferences and congresses. There were some papers holding more than seven(!) authors!! The most absurd one was a paper containing 10 - that is it: 10! - authors!! Now, try to figure out the quality of all those papers.

    I always keep a suspicious eye when I notice those kinds of "publications".

    Of course, JJ, I am not speaking about your publications! I hope this is clear here. It's nice to discuss those "Publish Or Perish" attitudes! :)

    By the way, we - maybe - shall be meeting next year at some conference! Oooh, It will be a nice opportunity to practice our Portuñol! :)

    Hasta La Vista!

    Marcelo de Brito

    De: JJ Fecha: 2008-06-09 17:31

    Journals are OK for publishing, but they take too long to publish, are not as good for disseminating knowledge, and, well, publishing in journals it's more difficult to extend your social network than going to a congress.
    Besides, it's difficult to generalize about congress. While there are junk congresses that accept everything they're thrown at, other congresses are high-quality, with 4 or five reviewers, more than the usual journal. PPSN papers get 4 reviews, and GECCO 5. In EuroPar, another congress we've made this year, acceptance rate is 30%.
    So, all in all, it's obviously better to publish in journals, since they have a higher consideration, but, while you do that, it's better to keep a rhythm of work by regularly preparing stuff for congresses.

    De: Marcelo Fecha: 2008-06-09 18:38

    Hi, JJ! :D

    Yeah! You are right upon extending someone else's social network, an aspect important nowadays. I had not realized it while writing my former comment. Nice point, JJ!

    Second point: Dissemination of knowledge is much easier via congresses rather than through journals. Another interesting perspective, since some journals - like those from IEEE - take too much time until the publishing of a given paper.

    Sorry for my naïveté! :)

    Hasta La Vista!


    De: Vitorino Ramos Fecha: 2008-06-12 19:18

    It migth be valuable not to subestimate the value of ideas while overestimating h-index (which is also important). What happens if we correlate them?! For instance, David Goldberg and John Holland once tried something tricky, which apparently no one tried before. To crossover bit sequences and mutate them over several generations. The result was, as you know: Evolutionary Computation. Their h-indexes, respectively?! h=96 and h=70 ! People like us, still rely on their ideas, to produce new works every day. With different ideas, the list can go on and on: James Kennedy, Brian Arhur, Marco Dorigo, Ronald Yager, Per Bak, etc, etc.

    So what is the best thing to do? Well, having good ideas wich requires a lot of imagination and knowledge, and to work hard with them, with a lot of care. For instance, a good paper could be entirely spoiled if 1/8 of the work, e.g. collecting results, was not done with care. Of course, many other situations could happen. For me, as I see it, scientists should take care of every step.

    De: JJ Fecha: 2008-06-12 19:25

    Yep, but you shouldn't forget that those are _published_ ideas; which means that real value lays in publishing, not in just having ideas...

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