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Standing conventional wisdom on its head - Conversation with Hari Sridhar [Excerpt], IndiaBioscience

Sridhar, H and Gadagkar, R Standing conventional wisdom on its head - Conversation with Hari Sridhar [Excerpt], IndiaBioscience. UNSPECIFIED.

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From figuring out the right research question to hiring the right people to dealing with the pressure of publishing papers– young researchers starting up a lab in India face a unique set of problems. Raghavendra Gadagkar, Professor at the Centre for Ecological Sciences and Centre for Contemporary Studies, Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore , shares his views on how to effectively manage these challenges. He urges researchers to step out of their comfort zones and start thinking de novo. Raghavendra Gadagkar Raghavendra Gadagkar (Photo: Souvik Mandal) You have said previously that the transition from being a student to doing research involves a process of ​‘unlearning’. Can you please elaborate on what form this ​‘unlearning’ should take? If you want to make this transition you really have to turn around 180 degrees because the optimum strategy for being successful in taking courses and passing exams is quite the opposite – not just different but the opposite – of the optimum strategy for making discoveries. For example, if you want to take courses and pass exams then it makes sense for you to place yourself in a place where you are comfortable. For example, you have an exam and you know that you are going to be given six questions and you have to answer any four. It makes sense for you to focus on the four where you are most comfortable. It doesn’t make sense for you to say I know the answers to these four, I don’t know these two, but I am going to try and answer these two. But if you are doing research that is exactly what you have to do. It doesn’t make any sense to say I know this, therefore, I am going to work on this area. You have to work on what you don’t know. You have to move away from the comfort zone of knowledge and familiarity and position yourself in the discomfort zone of ignorance and unfamiliarity. In other words, you must enjoy feeling stupid. Now that is easy to say – most people will agree with that – but the problem is much deeper and psychological. Our entire social structure is built on great prestige for knowing facts and great shame for not knowing facts. Somehow thinking is not part of our social culture. In research obviously, that doesn’t work. You have to do exactly the opposite and you have to learn how to think de novo.

Item Type: Other
Additional Information: Sridhar, H. and Gadagkar, R. 2017. Standing conventional wisdom on its head - Conversation with Hari Sridhar [Excerpt], IndiaBioscience, https://indiabioscience.org/columns/conversations/standing-conventional-wisdom-on-its-head
Keywords: Interview, Conventional wisdom
Department/Centre: Division of Biological Sciences > Centre for Ecological Sciences
Date Deposited: 22 Mar 2021 10:19
Last Modified: 01 Jun 2022 11:54
URI: https://eprints.iisc.ac.in/id/eprint/68360

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