“Publish or Perish” + A severe excess of people competing for a shrinking number of faculty positions = disaster
Today’s link comes via The New York Times, but is a topic that has been trending in various academic circles for a while now. The gist of the argument is that academic journals are seeing more and more retractions of peer reviewed papers, often because data in those papers is outright fabricated, or other types of misconduct occur. In our increasingly competitive academic environment, with far too many people competing for far too few faculty positions, this can only get worse. Without serious reform, the very fundamentals of the integrity of published scientific research are in peril. In a social environment full of scorn toward and attempts to undermine science, especially when politically convenient, this sort of news is the last thing we need to see. Hopefully, with the rise of symptoms like this, the scientific community, and those controlling the purse strings, will be more driven to bring about serious reform, top to bottom. I, personally, won’t be holding my breath.