Saturday, September 27, 2008

Shotgun Research

Paul Beame mentioned being hiring manager at a research lab as a test of executive skills on the research side. That got me distracted with an unique form of research found in labs.

You do what I call "Shotgun Research" at some labs. You go into a meeting with a person you haven't met, and in the following one hour, you have to bond with them, size them up, get their respect, quickly formulate a problem that will match the interests of both of you, and put in place the skeleton of a novel idea or direction or even a claim. Then before the clock interferes you have to lay the foundation for how the direction will be developed, and leave with a social contract. Later of course you will refine the problem, nudge the direction and rewrite the claims, and have to do the sweat work to make it a project or a paper, but the initial shotgun meeting is the key.

I modelled shotgun research after shotgun sequencing in genomics which wiki tells me is "named by analogy with the rapidly-expanding, quasi-random firing pattern of a shotgun." Quasi-random is right. Shotgun research does not lead to FOCS/STOC papers., but leads you to problems which with serious sweat may become one.


Blogger hal said...

so do you think this is a good thing or no? do you think it's a good thing to have done at least once in your life?

7:56 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Hal,
That seems to be value judgement, to be made by each individual. I personally like some things about corporate research labs.
-- metoo

1:28 PM  
Blogger Hugh said...

Sounds more like a shotgun wedding...

2:42 PM  
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Interesting project! I think there are positive and negative facts, but the most important is to be sure of what you want and what you do, and I guess you are. Continue with your shotgun research.

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Anonymous EZ Flash IV said...

That seems to be value judgement, to be made by each individual. I personally like some things about corporate research labs.

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