Skip to main content

Thank you for visiting You are using a browser version with limited support for CSS. To obtain the best experience, we recommend you use a more up to date browser (or turn off compatibility mode in Internet Explorer). In the meantime, to ensure continued support, we are displaying the site without styles and JavaScript.

How to succeed in science: a concise guide for young biomedical scientists. Part II: making discoveries


Making discoveries is the most important part of being a scientist, and also the most fun. Young scientists need to develop the experimental and mental skill sets that enable them to make discoveries, including how to recognize and exploit serendipity when it strikes. Here, I provide practical advice to young scientists on choosing a research topic, designing, performing and interpreting experiments and, last but not least, on maintaining your sanity in the process.

This is a preview of subscription content

Access options

Buy article

Get time limited or full article access on ReadCube.


All prices are NET prices.

Figure 1: Another reason for small experiments.


  1. Yewdell, J. W. How to succeed in science: a concise guide for young scientists. Part I: taking the plunge. Nature Rev. Mol. Cell Biol. 10 April 2008 (doi:10.1038/nrm2389).

  2. Huxley, T. H. Nature: aphorisms by Goethe, Nature 1, 9–11 (1869).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  3. Goodman, A. Intuition (The Dial Press, Bantam Dell Publishing Group, 2007).

    Google Scholar 

Download references


The author is grateful to the many junior and senior scientists who shared their insights into scientific success. B. Dolan, K. Grebe, S. Hensley and J. Ishizuka made valuable suggestions for improvements to the manuscript.

Author information

Authors and Affiliations


Related links

Related links


Jonathan W. Yewdell's homepage

Profession Jokes

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Yewdell, J. How to succeed in science: a concise guide for young biomedical scientists. Part II: making discoveries. Nat Rev Mol Cell Biol 9, 491–494 (2008).

Download citation

  • Published:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI:

Further reading


Quick links

Nature Briefing

Sign up for the Nature Briefing newsletter — what matters in science, free to your inbox daily.

Get the most important science stories of the day, free in your inbox. Sign up for Nature Briefing