How can the Biden administration reduce scientific disinformation? Slow the high-pressure pace of scientific publishing

By Matt Field, January 12, 2021

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Getting enough sleep, eating right, socializing–any decent listicle on self-care will tell you these activities are key to living a happy and healthy life. What about getting ahead in academic science? No, in that domain, relentless productivity is what’s likely to pay off. A 2018 article in Nature examined 265 authors who had published at least 72 scientific articles in a given calendar year between 2000 and 2016–on average, that means they were publishing every five days during the year (Ioannidis, Klavans, and Boyack 2018). While these authors were “implausibly prolific,” the sciences favor researchers like them who can get their work published.

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The need to keep up an intensive publication schedule might be especially acute when your scientific efforts require boatloads of government cash, and when it comes to scientific research, the government is a primary funder. “Keep in mind that your productivity, reflected by publications in reputable peer reviewed journals, is important – so don’t neglect this key aspect of your career,” reads a tip sheet on winning grants on one National Institutes of Health (NIH) website (NIAID 2020).

References

Akpan, N., and V. Jaggard. 2020 “Fauci: No Scientific Evidence the Coronavirus Was Made in a Chinese Lab.” National Geographic, May 4. https://www.nationalgeographic.com/science/2020/05/anthony-fauci-no-scientificevidence-the-coronavirus-was-made-in-a-chinese-lab-cvd/#close

As the coronavirus crisis shows, we need science now more than ever.

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