Scientific career paths: Choosing a research topic


Nobel Laureates give their perspectives on how to choose a good research topic, and scientific problem, to work on.

Type of Activity

working independently



Age Group

Undergraduate to Teacher


These videos were filmed as part of the Nobel Prize Inspiration Initiative.
choosing-a-research-topic RSC Recommended


  • Bruce Beutler discusses what makes a good scientific question.
  • Michael Brown answers the question 'What makes a good research question?' and offers advice for scientists deciding what to work on.
  • Tim Hunt answers the question: What makes a good research problem?
  • Martin Chalfie answers the question: What makes a good research topic
  • Paul Nurse explains that you can't always map out your career.
  • Barry Marshall answers the question: What should drive your choice of research topic?
  • Oliver Smithies gives advice on how a scientist should choose their research direction.

These videos are from the Nobel Prize Inspiration Initiative's (NPII) YouTube account, which can be found here. The NPII is a global programme designed to help Nobel Laureates share their inspirational stories and insights with the worldwide scientific community, and especially with early career scientists.