Thursday, June 17, 2010

Is Too Much Research Being Published?

The authors of an article in The Chronicle of Higher Education certainly think so. The article seems to be behind the curve on what is happening:

1. Here in Australia, for example, government financial incentives to universities used to favor quantity explicitly over quality but that has changed. Depending on the field either journal quality or number of citations will be the way things are measured quantitatively.

2. Being able only to submit your best publications over a given period is routine here at least in research evaluation and grant applications.

3. Comments about print are silly as no-one reads print journals anymore. I only print out a very few key articles myself. Mostly I read them on a laptop. I do 90% of my reading of all sorts on my laptop (maybe it being a Mac helps :)).

4. There is no need to read everything in the area of ones interest if one knows how to do research properly. You need to read the most cited articles and articles in top journals. The rest can be safely ignored.

5. At top universities around the world quantity of publications has never been favored over qualtity.

There are, however, huge numbers of new open access journals popping up all over the place right now.

The flip side of the coin is that suppression of research results is bad for science. This results in "publication bias" which can lead to a misleading estimate of the size of a given effect. Meta-analysis of course can help overcome this to some degree.

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