What is Good Research?

Co-hosted by Hang Lung Mathematics Awards (HLMA) and the Asia Society Hong Kong Center, the inaugural event of the HLMA 20th anniversary public talk series “Shaping our Future” was well received by over 300 participants on Tuesday, January 9, 2024.  Mr. Ronnie C. Chan, Chair of Hang Lung Properties, delivered the opening remarks, followed by a thought-provoking discussion on “What is Good Research” between Prof. Nancy Ip, President of The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, and Prof. Xiang Zhang, President and Vice-Chancellor of The University of Hong Kong, with Dr. Gerald Chan, Co-Founder of the Morningside group, as moderator.

Before discussing what good research is, Dr. Gerald Chan encouraged the audience to think about what science is. He emphasized that it is not the subject matter that makes a field of inquiry science; rather, it is the method of inquiry that makes a subject science. A subject is considered science if the approach and mode of inquiry conform to the scientific method.

Prof. Nancy Ip emphasized the value of curiosity-driven research and mission-oriented research to a knowledge-based society. Curiosity-driven research may lead to unexpected breakthroughs, while mission-oriented research may lead to practical solutions. She believes both are important and reinforce each other. She adds that research equips students with critical thinking and problem-solving skills.

Prof. Xiang Zhang noted humanity’s natural aspiration to pursue intellectual excellence. When people pursue something out of pure curiosity, there can be many unexpected outcomes. He continued that in today’s universities, the teachers invite students into the laboratory, where knowledge is created through research instead of transferred. Prof. Zhang encourages risk-taking and thinking big.

This public talk series marks the first-ever initiative of HLMA with the aim of fostering societal knowledge through engaging and informative discussions. During the year, we will be inviting leaders and experts from various fields to share their insights. Please stay tuned for the coming exciting discussions.

The full video of the panel discussion has been uploaded on Asia Society Hong Kong Center’s YouTube channel: