Bean Counting

Stevan Harnad harnad at ecs.soton.ac.uk
Wed Mar 9 07:13:06 EST 2005


On Wed, 9 Mar 2005, Michel Petitjean wrote:

> Many authors do not care to be read. and often even do not care
> to read what write their colleagues.
> All they want to do is:
>   <<publish or perish: add +1 in the paper count in the CV>>

It would be interesting to affix actual quantitative figures to these
guesstimates! My own anecdotal experience is that

(1) "Many" institutional performance evaluation committees have graduated from
naive bean-counting (counting publications), to slightly less naive bean-counting,
weighting the beans with the "impact factor" (average citation count) of the
journal in which the publications appeared. Slightly less naive again is to
consider also the direct citation count for each of the candidate's beans. Under
these material circumstances, insouciance about the impact weight of
one's beans would seem rather unrealistic.

(2) "Many" authors I know (myself not excepted), when they open a text in their
own research area, immediately do a "vanity check" -- to see whether they
themselves have been cited. This too suggests something less than
utter insouciance about being read.

(3) In the online age, vanity-checks have also extended to a marked interest in
the download counts for one's publications.

(4) Last, and perhaps least, surely there are *some* researchers who still care
about whether or not their research is making an *impact*, in the sense that it is
being used and built upon. Otherwise they might just as well have put it in a
desk-drawer (having duly registered it as yet another bean, sprouted), rather than
bothering with PUBLICation at all...)

> So they prefer journals without page charge rather than OA journals.

This is a (regrettably rather common) non-sequitur: One can maximizing
one's research impact by maximizing access to one's papers in *two*
ways. The 5% ("golden") way is to try to find a suitable OA journal to
publish one's research in (5% of journals are gold: http://www.doaj.org/ ) 
and the funds to pay the charges. The 95% way is to publish one's
research in the most suitable journal, regardless of whether or not
it is gold, but also to make it OA by self-archiving it in one's own
institutional repository. (92% of journals are already "green" in that
they have given their official green light to author self-archiving:
http://romeo.eprints.org/ ).

Stevan Harnad

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