Archive for April, 2012

The narcissistic personality disorder could be roughly defined as a psychological disorder in which people need to point their importance and need admiration. After few years in science I realized that a lot of scientists, especially neuroscientists (don’t ask me why), develop this kind of syndrome without thinking at the consequences…I mean looking ridicules. I’m fascinated and surprised by these kind of scientists and I started having mental trips just to understand how an intelligent person could become like that. I start thinking about possible traumas during their PhD or post-doc period, about which kind of scientific/professional education those guys have received and what does it mean for them being scientists, just matter of power and glorification?…
Of course I have never found a clear answer to my mental masturbation because in the field we’re so hypocrites that no one is brave enough to make this kind of comments (it isn’t politically correct and we like being hyper-politically correct). I’d be interested to know how other bloggers see scientists in order to understand whether it is just my mental distortion or not.

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As my first post of this newly born science-related blog I decided to highlight an interesting PNAS editorial “Impacting our young” (Marder E. et al., 2010) that I strongly recommend to young scientists.
Ph.D students, post-docs and PIs are running their professional life using the impact factor (IF) as main parameter of their productivity and scientific quality. Higher your IF is better (clever) you are…but, as we know, IF is not synonymous of IQ and unfortunately sometimes there isn’t linear correlation between IF and quality (of course this is not the rule).
With time science started struggling between the “publish or perish” mentality and the IF number, many post-docs and researchers decided to give up changing their job and many labs had to close their doors.
If you don’t get high IF papers your life is gonna become a nightmare: no applications, no fellowships, no seminars, no salary, no grants…no positions! All of this generates a storm of hysterical reactions (anxiety, fear, frustration, depression and negative competition) which in turn dramatically affect scientific production and mostly the quality of our product (knowledge). How many papers have been retracted? How many frauds have been made? How many times did you hear of people fabricating or faking data? Well…as you may imagine it’s easy to find a link between psychological/professional pressure and research quality.
For sure it isn’t an easy issue! Science needs to be judged and scored and quality should be the motivational value.
Now the point is: knowing all of that what do we do to change such crap system? Are we able to find a solution for such problem?