How do EA researchers decide on which topics to write on, and how much time to spend on it?post by BrianTan · 2020-12-31T14:33:07.407Z · EA · GW · No comments
This is a question post.
1. How do you decide or prioritize which specific research topic to pursue among many possible topics? 2. How do you decide how much time to allocate to researching and writing a specific write-up? None Answers 11 NunoSempere 6 Jamie_Harris None No comments
Hey all, I have two questions for EA researchers, although researchers in non-EA orgs can also answer:
1. How do you decide or prioritize which specific research topic to pursue among many possible topics?
I'm talking more about topics within a specific cause area, but how to pick between topics across cause areas is also useful. I have seen Charity Entrepreneurship's research process, and I think it's quite a good process of deciding what to do research on. But I wonder if there are easier versions or alternative versions of this done by other researchers or EA organizations.
2. How do you decide how much time to allocate to researching and writing a specific write-up?
Also, what do you do to make sure you are on track to finishing on time, and what do you do if you do not meet the deadline you set?
While I was working as a product designer in the software development industry, I learned the concept of "fixed time, variable scope or "fixed scope, variable time" releases. "Fixed time, variable scope" means the team would ship only the features they have finished by the deadline. Alternatively, they could choose not to ship it at all, and put the project on pause (or to not continue it at all). Meanwhile, "fixed scope, variable time" means that the team would only launch after all the features specified for that release have been finished. I wonder if researchers use either of these frameworks, such as setting a deadline and limiting the scope of research work so that it could meet the deadline, or if they just allow for deadlines to be moved (or don't set deadlines at all) if the research takes longer than expected.
I'd love to get answers to these questions. I ask because I'm currently leading EA Philippines' local cause prioritization and career advice research, where we aim to figure out what are the top local causes Filipinos should contribute to, and which career paths could be the most effective for them to take to do the most good. We're working with a few volunteers (mostly students) who are helping us do this research. We aim to write problem profiles like the ones 80,000 Hours has written. Here's a sample of our work on the scale and neglectedness of mental health in the Philippines [EA · GW].
However, I don't really have a background as a researcher, other than a couple of research papers I wrote in university. So I'm not sure what are the best practices when it comes to deciding what specific topics to pick, how to set deadlines well, or how to properly manage the scope of research projects. Any advice would be appreciated! If you know of any resources I could read or consume too, feel free to link them. And if you're also happy to have a 30-60 minute call with me on the above topics or questions, I'm happy to book a call with you as well. Thanks!
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