Re: The Economist: Publish and perish

From: David Goodman <dgoodman_at_PHOENIX.PRINCETON.EDU>
Date: Sun, 1 Dec 2002 01:39:49 -0500

Are referees for second rate journals less likely to steal your article?

Fri, 29 Nov 2002, Arkadiusz Jadczyk wrote:

> I can't refrain from quoting the pertinent piece from "Chance and Chaos" by David Ruelle. (Notes 5 and 7 to Chapter 11, p. 179-180)
> "A few words about rejected papers may be appropriate here. A prerequisite for a successful profesional carreer, for many people, is to have
> published scientific papers in refereed journals. In other words, appointments and promotions are decided on the basis of number of published papers. This situation forces many individuals who have neither interest
> in nor ability for scientific research, to write papers and submit them to
> journals. The referees, who are themselves research scientists, are thus flooded with mediocre papers, about which they are required to produce reports. Since they have more interesting work to do, the reports are often
> hasty and superficial. Reasonable-looking papers are accepted, obviously bad papers are rejected, and good papers that a bit original and out of the norm tend to be rejected too. This is a well known problem, and nobody really knows what to do about it. Fortunately, there are many scientific journals, and a really good paper will eventually get published somewhere.
> [...]
> If you are a conscientious scientist, you will acknowledge the sources the sources of all the ideas that you use (supposing you remember). If you are unscrupulous, you will try to present as your own some results obtained by others. For example, if you find a good idea in a paper that you referee, you will try to stop the paper, and rush to publish the idea under your own name (or have one of your students publish it).
> [...]
> I have myself worked in some areas in which I could freely discuss ideas with collegues, and other areas in which it was unwise, because of the risk that the idea would be stolen."
> Ark again: I think Ruelle lists explicitly certain very important issues here. He gives possible reasons why, in some cases, publishing in second rank journals, or just only on arXiv and similar (as advocated by Andrew Odlyzko), is indeed a wise choice.
> ark

Dr. David Goodman
Biological Sciences Bibliographer
Princeton University Library
Received on Sun Dec 01 2002 - 06:39:49 GMT

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