On the Process of Becoming a Great Scientist

  • Morgan C Giddings
  • Published: February 15, 2008
  • DOI: 10.1371/journal.pcbi.0040033

Reader Comments (5)

Post a new comment on this article

Myth of age-related science

Posted by PLoS_CompBiol on 26 Feb 2008 at 15:37 GMT

Originally submitted as a Reader Response on 19th February 2008

I appreciate Morgan C. Giddings' article for articulating the missing points in the Erren and colleagues' Editorial note (1). In regard to age, K. Brad Wray in an interesting article entitled "Middle-aged scientists are most potent" (2) justifies that scientific creativity and innovation does not depend on the age per se so that older scientists even accept the new ideas quicker than their younger counterparts. He also argues that for historical reasons young scientists are thought to make more significant discoveries.
Beside age, however, I believe that creativity is a function of both genetics and environment. The translation of these two terms has been reflected in Giddings' article as "genious" and "fresh mind" respectively. For example, I know that I possess a creative mind and time to time I come up with unique ideas but I am hampered by environmental restrictions such as lectures, exams, seminars, and other peripheral pressures. I would like to recall the biography of Einstein when he was blamed by his classmates for being absent in most of lectures and his answer that "the spirit of learning and creative thought were lost in strict rote learning" (3). If we expect creative scientists for the future generations, we must start to think of how we can creat an optimal creative environment for young scientists and students (4).

1. Erren TC, Cullen P, Erren M, Bourne PE (2007) Ten simple rules for doing your best research, according to Hamming. PLoS Comput Biol 3: 1839–1840.

2. Wray, K. B. OPINION: Middle-Aged Scientists are Most Potent. The Scientist. 2004, VOL 18; NUMB 22, pages 6-7.


4. Younesi, Erfan. Mastering the Master's, Letters, The Scientist 2005, 19 (1):8.

Submitted by: Erfan Younesi
Occupation: Postgraduate student
University of Bonn, B-IT