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What is the Motivation for Publishing Scientific Research?

  1. May 24, 2007 #1
    I was in a library recently and was struck by the shear number of journals. Journals often focus on some very specific topic, contain many thousands of articles going back more than 100 years. What is the motivation for people to submit papers to journals? I would expect that doing so would feel like throwing needles into a haystack.
     
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  3. May 24, 2007 #2

    D H

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    Publish or perish.
     
  4. May 24, 2007 #3

    D H

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    Publish or perish

    This opinion published in Physics Review discusses the publish or perish phenomenon:
    [​IMG]
    Three recent events, taking place in rapid succession, incited me to write this Opinion. The first was an annual report from a major school of engineering whose dean proudly listed 52 papers that he wrote in the course of the previous year.
     
  5. May 24, 2007 #4

    Evo

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    This isn't philosophy, moving thread.
     
  6. May 24, 2007 #5

    siddharth

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    Discovering and sharing new facts about the world and contributing to human knowledge? must keep straight face
     
  7. May 24, 2007 #6
    Yes, but it takes a lot effort to write a 3,000-10,000 word paper in Latex. From my perspective, I have ideas and equations, but I'm unfamiliar with the journals. I'm also poorly versed with the bulk of existing research.
     
  8. May 24, 2007 #7

    Astronuc

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    There certainly is that, and I've pretty much been told that by faculty. I now review articles for various scientific and technical journals and conferences. There is a lot pressure, even without the politics in academia (:rolleyes: :yuck:)

    I've also seen cases where the same piece of work is repackaged, or there is an incremental change that really doesn't warrant a new paper, but there it is. :yuck:

    There is the sharing of technical information, but also its a matter of getting exposure to the community in hopes of getting additional support for the research.

    I am also amazed at papers with a huge number of authors, e.g. 10+. I suppose when a group does research and reports on it, everyone is entitled to credit. And face it, some big experiments require the contribution of lots of folks, and each contribution is important.
     
  9. May 24, 2007 #8

    D H

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    I did a ten year stint in a FFRDC. Take out the "pretty much" from "pretty much been told that" and you have one of the ranking metrics for members of the technical staff. Universities are much, much worse.

    My employer took on a couple of graduate interns this summer. Both want a task that will lead to a paper, just in case they decide to stay in academia. They want a head start on the paper count in their CVs.

    Did you see the cartoon in my second post on this thread?
     
  10. May 24, 2007 #9

    Monique

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    That's why everyone wants to publish in Science or Nature. If you publish there you know your research is going to impact the field. There are hunderds of small journals for people to publish in, the quality and impact of the work in those journals is very small and I only look at those if a search yields a hit and I'm curious.
    There are about 10 journals that I follow on the foot, you need to be aware what other people are doing in your field.
     
  11. May 24, 2007 #10

    Astronuc

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    Yeah - hence the comment. I could have added NASA and National Labs to academia as well.

    I can't the thought of doing a paper, just to do a paper, and in fact, I've refused to publish because I didn't think the quality of a paper was sufficient.

    I'd like to publish more, but most of what I do is proprietary or otherwise restricted.
     
  12. May 24, 2007 #11

    George Jones

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    Until reading what Astronuc wrote and your reply, I didn't get the cartoon. I thought it was about self-promotion.

    Shows the importance of correct punctuation.
     
  13. May 24, 2007 #12

    Monique

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    Some papers I've (co)authored have 10+ authors, it is not so difficult when you collaborate with different groups. Anyone who did work that was significant for the paper gets a place on the authors list, that doesn't mean that the 1st author didn't do any work or doesn't have intellectual property over the work.

    I do think that there will be a lot of researchers that put people as a co-author, so that they can be a co-author on the other's paper to get a higher publication count, but that is all politics and hard to do anything about.
     
  14. May 24, 2007 #13

    D H

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    When the author list is large, 1st author often doesn't mean much other than that your last name starts with an A, B, or C.
     
  15. May 24, 2007 #14

    Astronuc

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    I seem to remember a paper recently with something like 30-40+ co-authors on it, and another with two groups for a total of something like 30-40 co-authors. I guess those in that situation just become accustomed to it, but not having done that, I think it just looks strange.

    I've always simply referenced other work when using others' work(s) as a basis for work I've done or ideas that I have developed.
     
  16. May 24, 2007 #15

    Monique

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    When I see a large list of co-authors, the first thing I do is look what institutes they are affiliated with. From there you can distill how much work each co-author did on the paper. In my case it would be 13 authors over 5 different institutes, including 3 departments of surgery. So part of the list are surgeons that have contributed to the work by recruiting patients.
     
  17. May 24, 2007 #16

    ZapperZ

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    Note that for high energy physics experimental papers, it is not uncommon to have 100+ authors. That is just the nature of the beast.

    Zz.
     
  18. May 24, 2007 #17

    robphy

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  19. May 24, 2007 #18

    D H

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    How does one cite such a beast? V. M. Abazov, et al?
     
  20. May 24, 2007 #19
    I see all this as more the reason of not being a scienctist. the office politics is ridiculous
     
  21. May 24, 2007 #20

    ZapperZ

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    What office politics?

    Publishing is the most important means for the peer-review process, something that most of the general public are ignorant about. It is how discoveries and new ideas are vetted out and tested by your peers to see if they are valid. Science isn't done in popular media, or public forums like this. The benefits that you are reaping out of all the progress that you are enjoying came out of such a process. It isn't easy, but it is necessary.

    Zz.
     
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