Researchers’ Individual Publication Rate Has Not Increased in a Century

Authors : Daniele Fanelli, Vincent Larivière

Debates over the pros and cons of a “publish or perish” philosophy have inflamed academia for at least half a century. Growing concerns, in particular, are expressed for policies that reward “quantity” at the expense of “quality,” because these might prompt scientists to unduly multiply their publications by fractioning (“salami slicing”), duplicating, rushing, simplifying, or even fabricating their results.

To assess the reasonableness of these concerns, we analyzed publication patterns of over 40,000 researchers that, between the years 1900 and 2013, have published two or more papers within 15 years, in any of the disciplines covered by the Web of Science.

The total number of papers published by researchers during their early career period (first fifteen years) has increased in recent decades, but so has their average number of co-authors. If we take the latter factor into account, by measuring productivity fractionally or by only counting papers published as first author, we observe no increase in productivity throughout the century.

Even after the 1980s, adjusted productivity has not increased for most disciplines and countries. These results are robust to methodological choices and are actually conservative with respect to the hypothesis that publication rates are growing.

Therefore, the widespread belief that pressures to publish are causing the scientific literature to be flooded with salami-sliced, trivial, incomplete, duplicated, plagiarized and false results is likely to be incorrect or at least exaggerated.

URL : Researchers’ Individual Publication Rate Has Not Increased in a Century


A simple proposal for the publication of journal citation distributions

Authors : Vincent Larivière, Véronique Kiermer, Catriona J. MacCallum, Marcia McNutt, Mark Patterson, Bernd Pulverer, Sowmya Swaminathan, Stuart Taylor, Stephen Curry

Although the Journal Impact Factor (JIF) is widely acknowledged to be a poor indicator of the quality of individual papers, it is used routinely to evaluate research and researchers. Here, we present a simple method for generating the citation distributions that underlie JIFs.

Application of this straightforward protocol reveals the full extent of the skew of distributions and variation in citations received by published papers that is characteristic of all scientific journals.

Although there are differences among journals across the spectrum of JIFs, the citation distributions overlap extensively, demonstrating that the citation performance of individual papers cannot be inferred from the JIF.

We propose that this methodology be adopted by all journals as a move to greater transparency, one that should help to refocus attention on individual pieces of work and counter the inappropriate usage of JIFs during the process of research assessment.

URL : A simple proposal for the publication of journal citation distributions

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arXiv e-prints and the journal of record: An analysis of roles and relationships

Authors : Vincent Larivière, Cassidy R. Sugimoto, Benoit Macaluso, Staša Milojević, Blaise Cronin, Mike Thelwal

Since its creation in 1991, arXiv has become central to the diffusion of research in a number of fields. Combining data from the entirety of arXiv and the Web of Science (WoS), this paper investigates (a) the proportion of papers across all disciplines that are on arXiv and the proportion of arXiv papers that are in the WoS, (b) elapsed time between arXiv submission and journal publication, and (c) the aging characteristics and scientific impact of arXiv e-prints and their published version.

It shows that the proportion of WoS papers found on arXiv varies across the specialties of physics and mathematics, and that only a few specialties make extensive use of the repository.

Elapsed time between arXiv submission and journal publication has shortened but remains longer in mathematics than in physics. In physics, mathematics, as well as in astronomy and astrophysics, arXiv versions are cited more promptly and decay faster than WoS papers.

The arXiv versions of papers – both published and unpublished – have lower citation rates than published papers, although there is almost no difference in the impact of the arXiv versions of both published and unpublished papers. »