The philosophy of impact factor is killing young scientists

Posted: April 3, 2012 in Neuroscience, Science Politic

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 How many papers have been retracted?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?

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