Advice to my younger self: world’s top researchers share the tips they wish they’d known

Want to be a researcher of Nobel class? Find out what advice our 2020 Citation Laureates™ would share with their younger self if they could go back in time.

Every year the Web of Science™ recognizes a handful of world-class researchers as Citation Laureates. This tribute celebrates the scientific and research elite, whose contributions to science have been transformative, even revolutionary, as attested by their exceptionally high citation record within the Web of Science.

We spoke with our class of 2020 Citation Laureates about what advice would they give to their younger selves. We received a huge response – both over video and email – and we’d like to share these with you here.

Claudia Goldin
Henry Lee Professor of Economics, Harvard University (USA)

“Do the tough things even if there is a chance that you won’t succeed.”

Pierre Perron
Professor of Economics, Boston University (USA)

“Probably to believe in myself more. Not to be so affected by what other people say; e.g., advisor, panelists, editors, reviewers. It can take a toll on you. Even colleagues and the administration, though that was never an issue at Boston University where I have been treated very well. It’s been a nice place to work. The right place for me.”

Pamela Bjorkman
David Baltimore Professor of Biology and Biological Engineering, California Institute of Technology (USA)

“Don’t be reluctant to ask questions during meetings and seminars. If you didn’t understand something, it’s likely that others didn’t either. Don’t feel guilty for combining a career with raising children. Speak up if you see inequities in science for women and under-represented minorities.”

Hongjie Dai
J.G. Jackson & C.J. Wood Professor of Chemistry, Stanford University (USA)

“I would give myself a pat on the shoulder, and say, ‘keep going’.”

Thomas Carroll
Research Physicist, Center for Computational Materials Science, U.S. Naval Research Laboratory (USA)

“I would say don’t be afraid to take risks. Maybe they don’t work out, but when you are young you have plenty of time to try something else.”

James Levinsohn
Director of the Jackson Institute for Global Affairs, Charles W. Goodyear Professor in Global Affairs, and Professor of Economics and Management, Yale University (USA)

“Work on problems that are interesting and the rest will work out.”

Find out more about our 2020 Citation Laureates here.