Max Perutz observes in this issue that “many young scientists work too much and read and think too little” (page 11). And I agree.

It’s not just a matter of spending too much time at the lab bench; it is also too much time taken to write grant proposals, review those of others, serve on committees, and perform many other activities. While these tasks, taken individually, may be necessary and even worthwhile, too many can dramatically cut into the time spent thinking about one’s research.

Younger scientists, those who are looking to get ahead in their careers, may be particularly vulnerable to trying to do too much research too quickly and to taking on too many commitments. The reward system of science actually encourages this, as when tenure or promotion decisions are tied, openly or implicitly, to publishing in quantity and serving on committees.

In a series of letters appearing...

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