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As a young researcher, it is really interesting for me to gain knowledge in different topics related to my major. I attend many conferences and seminars in my field, I read papers and books which I find related to my major.

However, I sometimes find it disturbing to my research productivity when I read a book or two about one research field and then I find another interesting research paper and try to read some papers about that field of research.

I have the feeling that this changing of research path is disturbing my research productivity. Now, I have read so many papers and books in many branches of my field, but I have not gone in depth of any of them. Although I have good vision about the research fields I have studied, but I think that having no concentration on one or two research fields will be disturbing for me in long period of time.

Reading many books and papers in many fields gives me good vision about those fields, gives me ideas on some interesting research topics but also disturbs my concentration on one research field. I have the feeling that this is a good path for short period of time that I want to find my way; but in long term, I will miss my concentration on a research field.

  • As a young researcher who is just trying to find his research path which I want to stay in, how should I make sure that this is the topic I want to do research in my whole academic life?

  • How should I stop my interest to learn new topics disturb my research productivity in future?

  • How should I overcome my desire to do research in many research fields and work on different research topics and stick to just one or two research fields and read papers and books only related to the research topic which I want to work on in long period of time?

The questions above are so close to each other and I think they can be answered under one question post.

  • In a way, this is equally valid when browsing scientific literature. – O. R. Mapper Feb 17 '15 at 10:25
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    Related questions: here and here. – Kimball Feb 17 '15 at 15:18
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As a young researcher who is just trying to find his research path which I want to stay in, how should I make sure that this is the topic I want to do research in my whole academic life?

You can't. The world will progress, funding will change and your interests are likely to develop as well.

How should I stop my interest to learn new topics disturb my research productivity in future?

There is inherent trade-off between focused work on a predefined topic and an open-ended mind-wandering. The current climate in academia seems to focus on productivity, which (in my opinion *) is not good for any non-incremental progress.

But as long as you find enough time to publish good papers, I wouldn't bother about not being focused enough (publishing requires you to focus, whether you like or not).

How should I overcome my desire to do research in many research fields and work on different research topics and stick to just one or two research fields and read papers and books only related to the research topic which I want to work on in long period of time?

Don't take a narrow (and, I think, common) definition of productivity as sticking to a narrow field and never wandering around. If you read a research-level book on another field (not just - its first chapter) then it is not shallow.

* Piotr Migdał, There are no projects like side projects (on Albert Einstein, John Bell and John Carmack)

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    Piotr, I definitely agree on your * point. In fact, I came from industry into my program with a solid background in functional analysis and software engineering, and have found that when I do focus on a narrow problem I am very productive and can solve research problems more quickly than our typical student. – daaxix Feb 17 '15 at 19:21
  • Your crucial point is "as long as you find enough time to publish good papers". However, I find this hard to know if I have spent enough time to focus on research. That said, I acknowledge the importance of doing side projects. – Ooker Apr 5 '16 at 13:24
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As a social sciences researcher and PhD Candidate myself I very much enjoy reading about (and sometimes participating in) studies that are beyond my narrow scope of Ed Psych. The more I understand about everything the more I see how many different things are inter-related and I see connections to things that others who don't venture out as much miss out on. I don't think that there is such a thing as too much knowledge. I read almost everything I can get my hands on. Even though my focus is on how people learn, I follow neuroscience, media, technology, sociology, and even DNA and evolution research. Sometimes they uncover something that is not useful for them, but is insightful for me.

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