Funding: What Changes ?

Gregory R. Harriman gregoryh at bcm.tmc.edu
Thu Jan 25 14:46:09 EST 1996


In article
<Pine.SOL.3.91.960125131745.147A-100000 at mcmail.CIS.McMaster.CA>,
berezin at MCMAIL.CIS.MCMASTER.CA (Alexander Berezin) wrote:

> If (in your view) my proposals are non-sensical, than why 
> you bother argue with me ? What drives your to post so
> much in reply to my postings ?

     Speaking for myself, because I would like to see proposed changes
lead to improvement in science.  That requires ideas that make sense.

> And IF INDEED YOU WANT CHANGES, than what sort of changes 
> you propose, and how you propose to implement them ?

     To give you one example of an idea previously proposed by Bill Tivol
which I agree with wholeheartedly:

Bill Tivol previously wrote:

     "If the quality of publications were the foundation for career
advancement and funding, the motivation would be to publish fewer papers,
each of which would be more complete--APR or no APR.  I have to agree that
some quality control is necessary, but if the system rewarded quality
instead of quantity, the QC problem would be more easily solved."

     We've probably all known people who are very adept at publishing
papers which contain the minimal publishable unit "MPU".  Like an assembly
line, they churn out one paper after another.  Each one contributes
marginally to what was already known.  Yet, they develop an impressively
long, if not substantive, CV.  If the focus was on quality rather than
quantity then the inevitable result will be fewer bad papers being
published just to add to the length of the CV.  The subtle pressures that
govern how scientists behave would be changed towards more constructive
behavior.  This seems like a sensible and more easily accomplished first
step.


Greg Harriman



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