Are questions asking for what the current research topics in a certain field allowed? Under what circumstance would they be? In case they are allowed, after how much time would it be allowed to ask the same question again, perhaps after a big discovery? Regarding this last point, while it's true that new answers could always be posted, it could also happen that the question stays buried unupdated.

EDIT: The reasons I think questions of this kind could be useful are:

  1. Undergraduate and Graduate students having to decide wich path to chose could use a clear explanation of some of the active research topics. Furthermore, they may not be used or don't have enough knowledge to understand what those topics are just by reading scientific journals. As Jon Custer noted in the comments, conferences may be an alternative, but it really depends on what you university actually offers and one could be interested in looking for something else anyway.
  2. While it's true that the answer changes with time, I think at any given time these questions could be answered. Of course, the answer is not unique, but so are answers to questions about references and those are allowed.
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    $\begingroup$ Any given field has a number of current research topics, which can be found by looking through the relevant journal(s) and going to conferences (or seminar talks at your local university). Since there is no definitive answer now or at any point in time, this sort of question does not fit well into the StackExchange question/answer model. $\endgroup$
    – Jon Custer
    Commented Mar 24, 2021 at 20:56
  • $\begingroup$ @JonCuster I edited the question, answering to the points you've raised. $\endgroup$ Commented Mar 24, 2021 at 21:03
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    $\begingroup$ "What are the current research problems in <field>" is almost certainly too broad, and a big-list question. It might be a sensible question for a subsubfield. $\endgroup$
    – knzhou
    Commented Mar 24, 2021 at 23:05
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    $\begingroup$ Moreover asking people on the web, whom you’ve never met and don’t know you, and who do not represent a representative sample of working physicists, is now something I would recommend. $\endgroup$ Commented Mar 25, 2021 at 0:13
  • $\begingroup$ Seems like some of these comments would be good answers $\endgroup$ Commented Mar 25, 2021 at 1:37
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    $\begingroup$ Related (duplicate?): State-of-the-art tag? $\endgroup$ Commented Mar 25, 2021 at 20:23
  • $\begingroup$ @EmilioPisanty I have read that post before posting my question. I do not think they refer to exactly the same thing, a proof being the fact that the questions linked in that post are accepted and actually quite popular, while the kind of questions I'm talking about seem not to be welcome. $\endgroup$ Commented Mar 25, 2021 at 21:53

1 Answer 1


Consolidating some ideas expressed in the comments here...

This is a Q&A site. We want questions that have a single, definitive answer that will not change in time rather than open-ended questions that might need to be updated in the future. "What are the current research problems in ..." is too broad of a question; there could be many answers that gave correct content, yet none of the answers could be definitely marked as "the answer" to the question.

The reasons I think questions of this kind could be useful are...

This is a common misunderstanding about the site. The usefulness of a question does not determine if it fits into the Stack Exchange model or policies of PSE. Additionally, just because a question isn't suited for PSE does not mean it isn't useful (or a good question, relevant to physics, interesting, fun, helpful to others, challenging, etc.).$^*$ I agree it would be extremely useful for people to learn more about the frontiers of a certain physics field. However, PSE is just not the right place for that.$^{**}$

$^*$e.g. full homework solutions to various exercises cold be helpful to many struggling students, but PSE does not want to be a homework-help site, so we do not allow posting and solutions of homework-like questions.

$^{**}$Just like how I love tutoring and helpingb students learn physics through worked examples, but PSE is not the place for that.

  • $\begingroup$ While I still disagree on the open-endedness of those questions (because of the analogy with references questions), I see what you mean with the other points mentioned. What would be other ways someone could get that kind of information on this site, perhaps on the chat? $\endgroup$ Commented Mar 25, 2021 at 8:16

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