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Opting Out of the Numbers Game

As a long-time student of the scientific journal, I have witnessed incidences of unwarranted co-authorship, repeated publication of the same work, and the practice of "salami science"—the slicing of a single research project into its least publishable units. In large part, such behavior by authors can be ascribed to a growing and long excessive pressure to publish in great quantity. This pressure has also been cited as contributing to recent, notorious cases of scientific fraud. Unfortunat

Eugene Garfield
As a long-time student of the scientific journal, I have witnessed incidences of unwarranted co-authorship, repeated publication of the same work, and the practice of "salami science"—the slicing of a single research project into its least publishable units. In large part, such behavior by authors can be ascribed to a growing and long excessive pressure to publish in great quantity. This pressure has also been cited as contributing to recent, notorious cases of scientific fraud. Unfortunately, our academic review and reward system, which too often focuses on numbers, may occasionally encourage misconduct both great and small.

A good alternative has been suggested. Marcia Angell, deputy editor of the New England Journal of Medicine, and DeWitt Stetten, of the National Institutes of Health, have independently suggested that a ceiling be placed on the number of works a committee considers in making promotion and grant decisions. Angell has proposed that a...

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