What Should Academic NLP Researchers Focus on?

Since commercial researchers dominate the “hot” area of large language models, I’ve seen a number of people ask “what should academic researchers focus on”. There are of course huge numbers of exciting and valuable scientific research questions which are not of much commercial interest, including long-term work which wont pay off commercially for 10+ years, high quality evaluation, socially useful but low-profit applications, and using NLP to research fundamental cognitive science questions.


How effective is prompting?

I was very impressed by a recent paper that compared prompting-based MT to MT based on trained models. Results are very interesting; prompting-based MT generates fluent texts which however have accuracy problems. Also the paper itself is an excellent example of a high-quality NLP evaluation, and I recommd it to anyone who wants to do good NLP evaluations.