The Medawar Zone is the area of problems which are most likely to produce fruitful results. Problems that are too simple are unlikely to produce novel or significant results. Problems that are too ambitious may not succeed at all or may be rejected by the research community at large. This is illustrated in the figure:
In an article on creativity in research, Craig Loehle named this zone after Sir Peter Medawar, a Nobel prize-winning medical researcher who was active from the 40s to the 60s. In The Art of the Soluble, Medawar suggested that there seems to be a certain time when scientific questions seem especially ripe for answering, whereas other questions remain elusive and out-of-reach from investigation.
- Stopping to Think, and Other Strategies for Promoting Scientific Creativity
- A Message from the Right Side of the Medawar Zone
- Choosing a Research Project
- Loehle, C. 1990. A guide to increased creativity in research inspiration or perspiration? BioScience 40:123-129.
- Medawar, P. B. 1967. The Art of the Soluble. Oxford Univ. Press.