Allen Newell gave a speech on scientific lives in 1991, and has a really interesting list of styles that various scientists use as the guiding principle of their life.
- Field works by occasionally having people make new discoveries that open a new area, and everyone moves into the new area to make related discoveries and hash out details. Eventually, all research becomes trivial or at least highly similar to the field as the whole, and one hopes for another new genre-opening discovery
- Substantive theme, whereby people spend their entire career on a moderately broad theme (often with an engineering bent)
- Sequence of Strategic Objectives, whereby people spend about five years understanding an idea, and then spend five years on another idea
- Work on interesting problems
- Work on whatever seems publishable
- Single ultimate scientific question
At work, I may get a new study soon. This is exciting! I've been just doing data analysis for many months, and I'm keen to get started on something new..