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Showing posts from July, 2012

In Defense of the Scientific Paper

Since leaving academia, I still find the time to serve on scientific program committees (recently NSDI, MobiSys, and SOCC) and have plenty of opportunity to read both good and bad scientific papers in various states of preparation. And although I am not required to publish papers in my current job, I certainly hope to do so -- a lot of the work we are doing at Google is imminently publishable -- it's just a matter of finding the time to sit down and write them!

Although I've blogged about how the scientific publication process needs fixing, I still feel that the process of writing a scientific paper is a hugely rewarding experience. Arguably, the primary value of scientific papers isn't in reading them, but writing them. You learn so much in the process.

Writing a paper sharpens your mental focus like nothing else. Like Japanese bonsai art or building a ship in a bottle, paper writing forces you to obsess over every meticulous detail -- word choice, overall tone, readabil…