Friday, June 13, 2014

"Outstanding" Wortk

In my earlier post on John Clauser, my point was not about him, but about how the academic system did not incorporate a fine scholar/scientist.  Usually, the problem is how the system chooses a weaker scholar over a  stronger one, where the difference is quite clear but not enormous. J would not fit in here, and K is almost as good as a scholar and perhaps will be a better teacher. The Rota post indicates how he distinguished important from outstanding, and in editing his journal he aimed for outstanding contributions if they showed up. If the work is outstanding you want it in your orbit.

Now it does not mean you will find it easy to do so, since some scholars are hard to live with, or may be very poor teachers. But when such an outstanding case comes along, you need to think differently, unbalancedly. There is not likely to be many such cases, so you can use your usual criteria most of the time. And surely some outstanding cases will turn out to be mistaken.

Still, it's worth having that category, outstanding, in your range.

Your department may not be so strong, but if you have a chance, go for the brass ring. You will create problems for yourself, but it's the kind of problems you would do well to have more of.

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