Publications and Vanity Metrics: an update

I talked a few posts ago about how scientific publications might be vanity metrics in disguise– good for showing an illusion of progress, but the enemy of true breakthroughs. Here’s a quick update to that thought: Peter Higgs, the British physicist whose work was the foundation behind the recent discovery of the subatomic particle bearing his name (the Higgs Boson) and who I mentioned in that post, might agree.

Speaking recently with the British newspaper The Guardian, Higgs expressed his belief that “no university would employ him in today’s academic system because he would not be considered ‘productive’ enough.” Higgs is also quoted as expressing doubt that a similar breakthrough [to his work on the Higgs Boson] could be achieved today, due to the pressure to publish.

The full article can be found here from The Guardian’s website. Please read it.

I wonder if there are any researchers alive today who can match the impact-per-publication of Peter Higgs. Somehow I doubt it.


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