Algorithms that describe a researcher’s mind:
(a) Work on the paper “closest to publication”. => downside: can reduce the willingness to solve difficult problems because they are farther from publication
(b) Always switch to more interesting topic, when you see one. => downside: you’ll never get anything published (but upside can be that you learn a lot about different topics, at least superficially)
(c) Define a “larger than life” problem and dedicate your whole life for it. => downside: somebody else might solve it before you, or it may not be solved during your lifetime at all
(d) Scope the field you are interested in and formulate a “research roadmap” or agenda that consists of several studies. Then conduct the studies sequentially. => downside: very hard to implement if funding is project-based and you cannot secure funding for each study.
(e) Find a niche that “nobody dominates” and focus all your research in that niche. => downside: you will likely end up with few citations, because there aren’t many people working on it.
(f*) Chase the trendy new topic perpetually, always switching your focus according to what seems to interest other people. downside => you will likely not gain deep knowledge in any field, or make a fundamental contribution since making one tends to require years of work.
I wonder, how many researchers would recognize themselves in each of these algorithms?
*NOTE: the difference between b) and f) is that in b), your own interests drive you, whereas in f), other people’s interests (as you perceive them) drive you.