Essay on Quality Over Quantity Required for Science to Flourish

Submitted By bdarcy12
Words: 1185
Pages: 5

Quality over quantity required for science to flourish
Billy D’Arcy
Macquarie University

The standard for which academics have been judged over the years has come into question. Is it fair to judge an academics worth on the sheer rate of journal articles produced? This the question discussed in the article, ‘Is publication rate an equal opportunity metric?’ Surely quantity must surrender to quality as the impact of a single article on the scientific community must be prioritised over many articles which contribute little. However in the modern world of academia the path to the top is too often associated with constant production of articles, as opposed to taking years to compile research that will have a significant impact on society. While a policy of quality over quantity seems like a logical solution, there are reasons for its non-occurrence. Quantity of articles is easily measured and helps to propel the author’s public ranking as an academic. Although this system relies on a complete absence of bias on the part of the academic community as such bias could deter certain groups from producing articles for publishing and as such reduce diversity in the scientific community.
An even more worrying problem has simultaneously occurred, alongside the implementation of metrics. The number of women involved in academia, more specifically publishing research in the sciences has dropped dramatically. The reason for this is not as clear as one would hope with a number of ambiguous variables playing a part. Undergraduate science courses such as ecology have seen a healthy increase in female enrolments, yet the number of women progressing onto careers in research is falling. Gender stereotypes such as motherhood taking priority over an academic career, seem like an appropriate response. This argument is further supported by the fact that the mere propagation of these stereotypes themselves can contribute to the problem. However it is not that simple, with research indicating that a women’s family role has little impact on their decision to pursue scientific research. Instead, smaller, less obvious factors appear to play an integral role. Alarmingly, a number of consecutive studies have revealed there may be a difference in publication rate between males and females. This could lead to a bias against women and in turn, discourage women from pursuing further publications. The research behind this reveals that women have a lower publication rate than their male counterparts. So naturally, in a scientific community that rewards quantity of publications over quality, women are forced to fall behind. Without a high publication rate, women receive fewer grants to conduct research, fewer promotions in their field and less public recognition from the scientific community. This results in women being discouraged from all angles as they are forced to make a choice that they should not have to. They can either no longer pursue scientific research or fall in line with their male counterparts and begin churning out publications at a higher rate, sacrificing quality for money, advancement and recognition.
The most revealing part of this study into female publication rates is that although women publish less, their work receives more citations. This indicates a greater impact on the scientific community and society as a whole. So in essence, women are producing a higher standard of research than men but are not being rewarded for doing so. As previously mentioned this blatant bias deters certain groups (women) from publishing and as such greatly reduces the diversity in the scientific community. However difference in career absences between men and women do not explain why different genders apply different publication strategies. Regardless of what causes these differences, they must be taken into account when considering women for publication grants and promotions. Unless this happens women will continue to suffer and the scientific