Universities, research centers and grant agencies often make the implicit assumption that research productivity depends on the innate abilities of a few key individuals. These people are research heroes. By putting these people in charge and giving them all resources, research productivity is thus maximized.
In Research productivity: some paths less travelled, Martin takes a contrarian viewpoint on research productivity. He believes that given the right nurturing, many people can become highly productive researchers. Research excellence comes by relentlessly training yourself in the right conditions. With this model, it could far more economical to grow many different highly productive researchers (see Research productivity versus funding received). I suggest that Ph.D. programs should have explicit training on productivity!
The following table presents the difference between the traditional viewpoint and the proposed alternative:
|Traditional viewpoint||paths less travelled|
|Research abilities are innate||Research abilities are acquired|
|Research is truth-seeking and testing||Research is also design and creativity|
|Research occurs in closed communities||Research occurs in open communities|
|Researchers seek like-minded individuals||Researchers seek diversity of opinions|
|Research is centralized, around few key individuals||Research is decentralized, there are numerous independent leaders|
- The Heroic Theory of Scientific Development by Peter Turney
- David Dobbs, How to be a genius, New Scientist, 2006.
- Geoff Colvin, Why talent is overrated, Fortune, 2008
- Thinking intelligence is innate makes you stupid
- Do you think because you write, or write because you think?