03 July 2008

Publish or Perish

"There are many reasons why this failure to publish is a scientific crime. The most obvious is that the information is lost to the world. When the scientist who has studied species X for two decades - and published not one jot of data - gets hit by a truck, most of that knowledge will be buried with him or her. The person lying under the truck’s wheels may well have stimulated many colleagues, probably by presenting some findings at conferences (a common dodge to avoid actually writing something up). But without publications, that scientist’s work will have been largely wasted.

Part of the problem, if I may be permitted a dubious food-related metaphor, is that some scientists live for the hunt, not for the cooking and serving. These are individuals who love to solve problems. For them, results always lead to more questions, which lead to more studies, which lead to more questions, and on and on. Instead of taking time to write up the work they’ve finished, they keep returning to the field. The field is fun."

Read on...
Clapham P. 2005. Publish or perish. BioScience 55(5):390-391.

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