Be Data Driven

Principle Scientist, Wei Wang, shares his advice on how to approach an "impossible" idea
problem solving

“It’s been tried but didn’t work,” or “It’s impossible.” How often have you been told this, especially from a senior-level scientist or professional, when you had an idea to try? It could be a true statement if it is supported by plenty of data and results. However, that statement is sometimes based on insufficient data or an opinion from previous knowledge and experience. In that case, be data-driven and design some experiments to prove it.

You might have designed a good experiment, but did you make the best of the data generated from weeks or even months’ worth of experimenting? Before saying, “I didn’t have any useful information from that experiment,” and moving on to the next one, look at the data. Sometimes, the signals could be slightly above the noise level or be one weird/unexpected data set. Especially in cases where you relied on another team to run the experiment and summarize the data for you, small signals might be treated as noise from their technical background.

When you have a good data set, think more profound, and analyze it from different angles. Have you ever noticed multiple high-quality peer-reviewed journal articles based on one good data set? Whenever possible, try to analyze the data using statistics to conclude with more certainty whether a result is significant. 

Wei Wang, Principle Scientist, Arkema Inc., High Performance Polymers division
Wei Wang, Principle Scientist, Arkema Inc., High Performance Polymers division

Wei Wang is a Principal Scientist in Arkema’s High Performance Polymers division since 2021, focused on research and development of Kynar® PVDF-based one-component and two-component waterborne and powder coatings. Before that, he spent 11 years in R&D of polymer synthesis and coatings formulation at PPG, Coatings Innovation Center. He is the recipient of 2020 Gordon Moore Medal award. He is currently a member of the Technical Program Committee of AMPP (The Association for Materials Protection and Performance), and a voting member of ISO standards. He earned his PhD degree in Chemical Engineering from Queen’s University, Canada in 2010. Dr. Wang has published 16 journal articles, and he holds 25 granted and pending U.S. patents.

The opinions expressed in this article are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect the view of their employer or the American Chemical Society.

Wei Wang, Principle Scientist, Arkema Inc., High Performance Polymers Division

Wei Wang is a Principal Scientist in the High Performance Polymers division at Arkema Inc.

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