"Doing Good Physics": Narrative and Innovation in Research

This article examines how physicists use stories in doing physics and in understanding who they are in relation to other physicists. In particular, the article explores how physicists: 1) use narratives of past research successes as a way of teaching the elusive process of "doing good physics"; 2) use narratives of past failures as "cautionary tales" that allow listeners to learn from the mistakes of others without suffering the embarrassing or potentially dangerous consequences of making similar mistakes; and 3) use narratives as metatheoretical commentaries to highlight relationships between theory, experiment, and the "real world" of human interaction.