continuous publication and what it takes to publish

Kevin Boyack kboyack at MAPOFSCIENCE.COM
Fri Aug 22 11:59:28 EDT 2014

Dear Colleagues,


Some of you may be aware of a recent PLOS One paper
that Dick Klavans and I published with John Ioannidis. In this work we
explore continuous publication and show that those who publish continuously
(each and every year) have much higher impact than those who don't. This
result comes as no great surprise to most of us; it simply adds some
quantitative proof to what we have long assumed.


I've been reading some of the comments that have been made about this work,
some positive, some negative. The purpose of this email is not to clarify or
refute any particular point, but is rather to mention what I consider to be
the most useful commentary I've seen. 


Bill Gardner gives a perspective on what it takes to publish a paper
-percent/). He cites a previous post by Brian McGill
es-a-person-write-a-lot-of-papers-and-the-superstar-researcher-system/), who
in turn reflects on a paper written in 1957
( by William Shockley, a Nobel
Prize winner in Physics. Shockley, among other things, provided a strawman
list of factors (or what we might call tasks) involved in publishing a
paper. This list may or may not be correct and/or complete, but that isn't
the point. The point is that getting a paper published requires a lot of
steps, and that there are really no shortcuts. 


As I think back to my education in engineering, I remember being taught the
general process in a cursory way, but I really didn't learn what it takes to
publish until I started to do it. I imagine many of you will have had a
similar experience. 


Now for the question: Can this learning process by accelerated for the next
generation of researchers? Is it worth our time to make students aware of
the process in more than a cursory way? I don't have the answers to these
questions, but I think they are worth asking, and recommend that reflection
on this topic is worth our time.





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