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The Science of Success symposium at Harvard 精选

已有 20319 次阅读 2013-6-18 21:24 |系统分类:海外观察|关键词:style

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On June 17,2013 I attended the workshop on the “Science of Success” held at Harvard out of pure general interest. This is a mostly sociology specialist conference studying the “how, why, and what” are successes in science and other general disciplines. You can consult http://www.barabasilab.com/success/ for speakers, venue, programs, bios,and topics of major speakers. The symposium was jointly sponsored by the Institute of Quantitative Social Science at Harvard University and by the Center of Complex Network Researchat Northeastern University. As a complete outsider of thediscipline and unlike the meeting such as the “One Day University” http://blog.sciencenet.cn/home.php?mod=space&uid=1565&do=blog&id=683006 which are lectures designed for the general  public, following the talks at the symposium require intense concentration. At my age, I soon reach the point of diminishing return whereboth interest and ability to understand wane after 4 hours. Thus, instead of sitting through  all eight hours of lectures/talks, I decided sampling 50% of the workshop are sufficient information for me to report on my impressions and shall leave interested readers to “google” the symposium and speaker websitefor additional information.

So what have I observed and learned?

1.  This conference is about “Big Data” study involving millions (17.9)  of papers published mostly during the period 1950-2000 in all  fields of science (17 disciplines in all). This seems to be where  social science is going http://blog.sciencenet.cn/blog-1565-12739.html.

2.  To achieve high citation, your paper should have equal combination  of traditional and innovative material. Too much of one will be looked upon as  “routine” or “ahead of its time”. This is experimental evidence  (see #7 below).

3.  The fastest way to improve one's H-index is to write a paper about the  H-index.

4.  Several improvements of the SCI or H-index were proposed. It seems  so far there is nobetter alternative than “peer opinion”

5.  One innovation of the conference is the use of “automated  slide advance”. With the exception of featured talks, there were a number of  five minutes long “ignited”talk where the speaker is limited to 20 slides  each  of which will be on screen for exactly 15 seconds. The projector will  automatically  turn off at the end offive minutes regardless  of whether or not the speaker has finished his/hertalk. This enforces time limit and enable the workshop to move on schedule. I think it is a good move

 

6.  I noticed a trend of using pictures to replace text  in PPT slides by variousspeakers. Also the techniques of using PPT among speakers are rising (or may be sociologists are better speakers and user of PPT).

 

7.  Iinclude here the abstract of one talk I particularly liked:

 

Atypical Combinations and Scientific Impact

by Brian Uzzi

Itis often claimed that science is spurred on by novel combinations of priorwork, inspiring fresh thinking and new approaches to problems. This viewpoint suggests that uncommon combinations of prior work would be prized over convention in scientific discovery. Analyzing 17.9 million papers in the Web of Science database, we characterize each paper by the novelty and conventionality of the prior work it combines. We find that science follows nearly universal patterns, where novelty and conventionality are not opposing factors but intricately related complements. Papers that inject novel combinations into otherwise exceptionally conventional combinations of prior work are twice as likelyto be among the most highly cited works. While novel combinations of prior work are rare, team-authored papers are 37.7% more likely than solo authors  to insert novel combinations into familiar knowledge domains. These findings generalize across time and fields. At root, our work suggests that creativity in science appears to be a phenomenon of two extremes. At one extreme is conventionality and at the other is novelty. Curiously, advancing to the frontier of science appears best served not by efforts along one boundary or the other but with efforts that reach toward both frontiers.

 



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