Surviving in science

“All the world’s a lab … and last, The Survivor” by Sydney Brenner:

Survival in science, and especially in biology, takes something more than having a working body. The most important thing you can do is to stay out of phase. As fashions rise and then fall and then often rise again, it is important to be either half a wavelength in front or half a wavelength behind them. It does not matter which you choose.


Continuous visibility leads to survival, or, to put it another way, a sustained impact factor is what you need. How to achieve this is the main preoccupation of most scientists today. They think you do it by publishing in impactful journals, or delivering lectures at prestigious meetings or being asked to speak at important universities. Furthermore, they think you achieve impact by being totally serious. They are wrong. The best way to survive in science, as in other walks of life, is to make people laugh, because laughter registers impact with the greatest efficiency.

Current Biology 2000, Vol 10, No 2, p. R45

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