April 4, 2021 (Part 3)

I woke up around 530 am. I cleaned up my area and now I am back to my portable standing desk. I think I became fatter the past weeks even though I ate so much more seafood than red meat. I have been sitting more and more, writing more and more emails and other admin documents. These activities will likely contribute to the death of my research, but I am thankful that I still manage to get ideas here and there and write things up.

I found some comfort in some passages from Joshua Schimel's Writing Science. Incidentally, I got this gem from a used bookstore in Taichung (of all places!!). Schimel writes: ""Publish or perish" may be the basis for survival, but it is not (italics) the basis for success." He then follows with "remember who your real peers are". But a part of me feels that these passages are getting less and less true given that journal publishing is becoming more of a business and that there really is a pecking order for journals. I would say that many are content on publishing at not so reputable outlets and then survive. I wonder what will happen to their students in the future. But then, if I do not publish, what will happen with my own good works? This is a conundrum.

The most comfort I got from the book was "You may survive by publishing a lot of papers, but you will only succeed by writing good ones -- papers that are clearly structured and tell a compelling story. Quality ultimately trumps quantity, and it will stand out in a crowded scientific universe." But I also wonder about a researcher's responsibility in a do no harm sense. I would argue that researchers should not add noise and must strive to add strong signals to the literature. But what if the noise crowds out the signal? Surely, publishers could no longer use the Mark Zuckerberg argument.


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