Being a librarian and not really being eligible for any Nobel Prizes, this probably isn’t the most practical advice I’ve ever highlighted here on the blog. But some of you readers out there are scientists, though, right? Right?
On the other hand, I see no reason why librarians can’t be eligible for the Ig Nobel Prizes, a prize I aspire to winning one day for the team. In that case, this fine article, Ten Simple Rules to Win a Nobel Prize by Nobel laureate Richard J. Roberts probably does contain a few valuable lessons towards that particular goal.
Here’s a taste, but please do read the whole article. The suggestions are all on the light-hearted side, but still valuable.
1. Never Start Your Career by Aiming for a Nobel Prize
Don’t even hope for it or think about it. Just focus on doing the very best science that you can. Ask good questions, use innovative methods to answer them, and look for those unexpected results that may reveal some unexpected aspect of nature. If you are successful in your research career, then you will make lots of discoveries and have a very happy life. If you are lucky, you will make a big discovery that may even bag you a prize or two. But only if you are extraordinarily lucky will you stand any chance of winning a Nobel Prize. They are very elusive.
9. Always Be Nice to Swedish Scientists
Several laureates had their prize severely delayed by picking a fight with the wrong person, someone who was either already a Nobel Committee member or became one subsequent to the fight. Some individuals may even have lost out altogether, although one would need to search the archives (only available 50 years after the award) to find them. This is usually an easy rule to follow as in my experience the Swedes are very nice people, good scientists, easy to collaborate with, and extremely amiable drinking partners.
It is never too early to get started on this. Then, should your name magically appear on the candidates’ list and you have to wait for it to reach the top, you may still be around to cash in. Peyton Rous had to wait from 1911 until 1966 for the Medicine Prize, just four years before his death.