Publish or perish
||The examples and perspective in this article deal primarily with the United States and do not represent a worldwide view of the subject. (December 2010)|
Frequent publication is one of the few methods at scholars' disposal to demonstrate academic talent. Successful publications bring attention to scholars and their sponsoring institutions, which can facilitate continued funding and an individual's progress through a chosen field. In popular academic perception, scholars who publish infrequently, or who focus on activities that do not result in publications, such as instructing undergraduates, may lose ground in competition for available tenure-track positions. The pressure to publish has been cited as a cause of poor work being submitted to academic journals.
The phrase appeared in a non-academic context in the 1932 book, Archibald Cary Coolidge: Life and Letters, by Harold Jefferson Coolidge. In 1938, the phrase appeared in a college-related publication. The expression also appears in Eugene Garfield's article, "The Academic Man: A Study in the Sociology of a Profession", published in The Scientist in 1942.
Research-oriented universities may attempt to manage the unhealthy aspects of the publish or perish practices, but their administrators often argue that some pressure to produce cutting-edge research is necessary to motivate scholars early in their careers to focus on research advancement, and learn to balance its achievement with the other responsibilities of the professorial role. The call to abolish tenure is very much a minority opinion in such settings.
This phenomenon has been strongly criticized, the most notable grounds being that the emphasis on publishing may decrease the value of resulting scholarship, as scholars must spend more time scrambling to publish whatever they can get into print, rather than spending time developing significant research agendas.
The pressure to publish or perish also detracts from the time and effort professors can devote to teaching undergraduate (and some graduate) courses. The rewards for exceptional teaching rarely match the rewards for exceptional research, which encourages faculty to favor the latter whenever they conflict.
Many universities do not focus on teaching ability when they hire new faculty, and simply look at the publications list (and, especially in technology-related areas, the ability to bring in research money). This single-minded focus on the professor as researcher may cause faculty to neglect or be unable to perform some other responsibilities.
Another important aspect of professorship is mentorship of graduate students, an aspect rarely assessed when new faculty are admitted to a department.
Regarding the humanities, teaching and passing on the tradition of Literae Humaniores is given secondary consideration in research universities and treated as a non-scholarly activity.
- "Publish or perish". Nature 467 (7313): 252–252. 2010. Bibcode:2010Natur.467..252.. doi:10.1038/467252a. PMID 20844492.
- Fanelli, D. (2010). Scalas, Enrico, ed. "Do Pressures to Publish Increase Scientists' Bias? An Empirical Support from US States Data". PLoS ONE 5 (4): e10271. Bibcode:2010PLoSO...510271F. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0010271. PMC 2858206. PMID 20422014.
- Neill, U. S. (2008). "Publish or perish, but at what cost?". Journal of Clinical Investigation 118 (7): 2368–2368. doi:10.1172/JCI36371. PMC 2439458. PMID 18596904.
- Gad-El-Hak, M. (2004). "Publish or Perish—An Ailing Enterprise?". Physics Today 57 (3): 61–61. Bibcode:2004PhT....57c..61G. doi:10.1063/1.1712503.
- Archibald Cary Coolidge: Life and Letters, 1932, p. 308
- Association of American Colleges Bulletin, Volume 24 (1938)
- Eugene Garfield (June 1996). "What Is The Primordial Reference For The Phrase 'Publish Or Perish'?". The Scientist 10 (12): 11.
- Decca, Aitkenhead. "Peter Higgs: I wouldn't be productive enough for today's academic system". The Guardian.
- Victor Davis Hanson and John Heath, Who Killed Homer? The Demise of Classical Education and the Recovery of Greek Wisdom. New York: The Free Press, 1998.
- Thomas K. Grose, "21st Century Professor," ASEE Prism, January 2007
- Richard L.S. Evans, "Chrysoloras' Greek: The Pedagogy of Cultural Transformation."
- Herb, Ulrich. (2010) "Sociological implications of scientific publishing: Open access, science, society, democracy, and the digital divide" First Monday, Volume 15, Number 2 - 1 February 2010
- Publish or Perish calculates various statistics, including the h-index and the g-index using Google Scholar data
- Quotations related to Publishing at Wikiquote