Naturalism News Peer review Science

Scientists should publish less?

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What’s hot? What’s not?/Niklas Bildhauer, Wikimedia

Or, we are warned, they will be “swamped by the ever-increasing volume of poor work.”

Imagine, on the virtual heels of: Authors: There is a worrying amount of outright fraud in psychology (But, they say, it may be no more common than in other disciplines), we get this:

From science policy analyst Daniel Sarewitz at Nature,

Mainstream scientific leaders increasingly accept that large bodies of published research are unreliable. But what seems to have escaped general notice is a destructive feedback between the production of poor-quality science, the responsibility to cite previous work and the compulsion to publish.

More than 50 years ago, Price predicted that the scientific enterprise would soon have to go through a transition from exponential growth to “something radically different”, unknown and potentially threatening. Today, the interrelated problems of scientific quantity and quality are a frightening manifestation of what he foresaw. It seems extraordinarily unlikely that these problems will be resolved through the home remedies of better statistics and lab practice, as important as they may be. Rather, they would seem — and this is what Price believed — to announce that the enterprise of science is evolving towards something different and as yet only dimly seen.

Current trajectories threaten science with drowning in the noise of its own rising productivity, a future that Price described as “senility”. Avoiding this destiny will, in part, require much more selective publication. Rising quality can thus emerge from declining scientific efficiency and productivity. We can start by publishing less, and less often, whatever the promotional e-mails promise us. More.

The comments are interesting. So many of them are variations on: All talk, no action.

Maybe it all has to end that way. It could have something to do with naturalism.

After all, if our brains are shaped for fitness, not for truth and there is no free will, as naturalists believe, then we couldn’t discover facts anyway. We can only advance careers, like wolves getting the best of the carcass.

See also: If peer review is working, why all the retractions?

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3 Replies to “Scientists should publish less?

  1. 1
    inquisitor says:

    Unfortunately, the “publish or perish” ethos in most universities leads to many papers being published that are not all that interesting, or important.

  2. 2
    Robert Byers says:

    I have read a lot of papers in geomorphology etc and note authors write about what little they have to say.
    It is publish or perish and its the prestige of accomplishment that you must make these papers.
    Yet I still see, like in music, that a top 100 is maintained by citation.
    Why isn’t that simply the great decider??
    There are more researchers today then ever and the easy stuff went quick in the previous centuries.
    People are having trouble figuring out the next steps.
    Then walls of error, like evolutionism, are in the way too.
    Get rid of that and BOOM more papers will appear to figure out how biology actually works. A better world.

  3. 3

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