Friday, 22 June 2012

Quantity not Quality?

Academia seems to be more & more obsessed with quantity these days.  I'm no exception, I'm an avid fan of the new google scholar metrics page.  But recently a letter was published in Trends in Ecology and Evolution suggesting that this may not be a great idea.

One of the really interesting points from my point of view was that the increased pressure to have more of everything (papers, citations, grants etc.) leads to bigger and bigger groups, which causes more of the people, papers and funding to be concentrated on certain areas, which may not be the best areas for scientific advancement. These groups may not be doing the most exciting research, they're just publishing the most, drowning out the other papers.

The concept of big groups is always one that's irked me, mainly because you do so much better in a big group.  You can get your name on more papers, you have more colleagues to bounce ideas off and to use as contacts later on in your career. So from my point of view, always having worked in very small groups, it was mostly jealousy that set me against large groups.  But I'm beginning to think, after reading this letter, that there may be some actually good reasons for being anti-big group.

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