Sunday, July 11, 2010

We need deans who can read, not just count

In the Chronicle of Higher Education a month ago, there's a fantastic rant on sharp critique of the culture in science that privileges publication numbers at the expense of quality: We Must Stop the Avalanche of Low-Quality Research by American academics Mark Bauerlein, Mohamed Gad-el-Hak, Wayne Grody, Bill McKelvey, and Stanley W. Trimble.

The entire article is worth your time, and packs quite a punch. Here's an excerpt from the end:

... [W]hat we surely need is a change in the academic culture that has given rise to the oversupply of journals. For the fact is that one article with a high citation rating should count more than 10 articles with negligible ratings. Moving to the model that Nature and Science use would have far-reaching and enormously beneficial effects.

Our suggestions would change evaluation practices in committee rooms, editorial offices, and library purchasing meetings. Hiring committees would favor candidates with high citation scores, not bulky publications. Libraries would drop journals that don't register impact. Journals would change practices so that the materials they publish would make meaningful contributions and have the needed, detailed backup available online. Finally, researchers themselves would devote more attention to fewer and better papers actually published, and more journals might be more discriminating.

Best of all, our suggested changes would allow academe to revert to its proper focus on quality research and rededicate itself to the sober pursuit of knowledge. And it would end the dispiriting paper chase that turns fledgling inquirers into careerists and established figures into overburdened grouches.


  1. Ankur Kulkarni said...

    Kya baat hai! Thanks for the article Abi.