Not To Be Trusted With Knives











{February 12, 2008}   Publish or Perish. True Dat.

Lately, I’ve been doing a lot of writing of the I-would-like-to-keep-my-job variety. That’s how things go in the world of science – we spend a lot of time writing applicants for money to fund our projects, reports to tell our funders that we are spending their money wisely, and publishing our findings to (a) show our worth as scientists so that we may get jobs/promotions/more funds to do research and (b) actually move the field forward/make some kind of impact in the world. If I’m making (b) sound like a bit of an afterthought, it’s only because it kinda feels like a bit of an afterthought sometimes. The part where we publish in order to share our work with others so that what we learn through our work can be used to make the world better is supposed to be what it’s all about. But I can assure you that “publish or perish” isn’t the mantra of the academic because we’d just *die* if we didn’t get to share our work with the world.

Anyhoo, I’ve been doing lots of writing, and talking to other people who have been doing lots of writing2, and I remembered that I’ve been meaning to blog about this paper from the Annals of Improbable Research3. Highlights of the paper include:

Nominally, science involves discovering something new about the universe, but this is not really necessary. What is really necessary is a grant.

and

The real purpose of introductions, of course, is to cite your own work (e.g. Schulman et al. 1993a), the work of your advisor (e.g. Bregman, Schulman, & Tomisaka 1995), the work of your spouse (e.g. Cox, Schulman, & Bregman 1993), the work of a friend from college (e.g. Taylor, Morris, & Schulman 1993), or even the work of someone you have never met, as long as your name happens to be on the paper (e.g. Richmond et al. 1994).

and

Be sure to spend at least 50% of your time (i.e. 12 hours a day) typesetting the paper so that all the tables look nice

It’s funny because it’s true.

1OMG, Googling “publish or perish” led me to this site, where you can buy software called “Publish or Perish,” which is “designed to help individual academics to present their case for research impact to its best advantage.”
2Hi Jen! Hi Dan!
3Brought to you by the same people who granted me membership in the Luxuriant Flowing Hair Club for Scientists.

Photo by paperbackwriter. w00t for Creative Commons licenses!

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dan says:

Is it wrong that after noticing the ‘hi dan*’ in the footnotes I immediately wondered how I could add this to my cv or the introduction to my next work?

* I am assuming that I am the only dan you know (LOL)



You’re very right about academia not being the only ones who need to publish or perish. Non-profits are constantly writing grants in order to stay afloat. I’m sure there are others, but since that it my “area of expertise” it came to mind first.

Thanks for the picture credit! It’s weird to see my pictures up on other people’s blogs!



Beth says:

@dan – Yup, you are the Dan to whom I was referring. And no, it’s not wrong to wonder how you could add this reference to your CV. Which makes me think, I’d have a great publication list if I listed each blog entry as a publication. Which, technically, they are.

@paperbackwriter – yeah, I’ve worked for non-profits before and remember the constant writing of grant applications. Fortunately, in that case, I pawned that work off on someone else and got to focus on the fun stuff. In my job now, I have to do it all!



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