The president of the Association for Psychological Science recently published a column titled, “The Publication Arms Race.” Dr. Lisa Feldman Barret’s central point is that we professors are rewarded mainly for our publications, and mainly for the quantity of those publications. The entry ticket to a faculty position at a college or university, and the key criterion for subsequent contract renewal, tenure, promotion, and other professional honors and awards is the number of published articles in the “right” journals.
The criteria have become inflated (hence the arms race catch phrase). In the academy we are rewarding publication quantity, while hoping for other outcomes as well. Dr. Barret laments that the numbers game may cause academicians to do things that don’t really advance our knowledge but get published, and bypass research that might advance knowledge but be less likely to get published.