In industry research, choosing your research project is a matter of taste. I've seen a lot of research projects come and go. Some projects succeed (e.g., by getting turned into a product that makes a lot of money for your company); others face an uphill battle, and some never make it out into the world. In all cases, you can churn out papers for conferences, but only a small subset of projects capture people's imagination and lead to widespread success.
Given how much of our lives is spent working on research, how do we maximize our chances of working on more successful research? Luck is always an enormous factor (doing the right work at the right time), but I also believe that you can create your own luck.
Here are some factors I use to evaluate whether a research project "smells" good:
Research can be successful without hitting all of these points, but the projects that hit all these criteria are the ones I'm most excited about.
What do you think? What criteria do you use to evaluate research projects?
Speaking as an ivory tower academic, my favourite criterion is "does this topic fascinate me?"
A great piece of advice I've heard: "If you don't have a burning question to answers, don't pursue a PhD." In other words, you need to care about the problem before you even begin your studies, much less decide on a research topic.
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