Snobby Scientists

Does the preference of many scientists to only hear talks from successful institutions limit the reach of innovation?

By Edyta Zielinska | March 21, 2013

FLICKR, WILL HARTGoing to conferences with thousands of attendees and hundreds of talks, many scientists make their initial choice based on the speaker’s institution rather than the topic or merit of the work. Keith Weaver, a microbiologist at the University of South Dakota, opines in a recent issue of Nature that this tendency is pervasive in the scientific community and that it limits the potential for successful collaborations and cross-pollination.

Derek Lowe says on the blog In the Pipeline  that this practice is also common in industry. There, it’s how successful and well-known your biopharma company has been that garners the prestige. “The unspoken supposition is that a really small obscure company must have had to reach lower down the ladder to hire people, even though this might not be the case at all,” Lowe wrote.

(Hat tip to GenomeWeb)

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Avatar of: Curculio


Posts: 61

March 21, 2013

Would I be more likely to read about cold fusion if it is printed in Nature than I would if it were in Proceedings of the Physical Sciences of Greenland? Snobbiness runs rampant in science but often for legitimate reasons.

Avatar of: Duncalicious


Posts: 4

March 22, 2013

Speaking from experience, we base such decisions off the company as it's the strongest characteristic we have to gage quality. Why is that? Largely because of publications and the concrete numbers that are used to tell one firm from the next.

It's the thought leaders, publications and watchdogs that should ensure it's not the standardized perception of hiring mentioned by Lowe that these assessments are based on.

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