The Scientist 10[12]:11, Jun. 10, 1996


What Is The Primordial Reference For The Phrase 'Publish Or Perish'?

By Eugene Garfield


More than a year ago, I was asked by Joshua Lederberg, University Professor at Rockefeller University, if I knew the original reference for the ubiquitous expression "publish or perish." Little did I realize what odd paths this simple question would lead me down.

Like many other scientists and scholars, I had used this familiar phrase in many talks over the past 30 years. A literature search turned up only a few articles and letters in research journals, but none of the authors had cited a source for this common expression. I also searched dictionaries, including the incomparable Oxford English Dictionary, in print and online, but to no avail.

Indeed, even inquiries on several Internet newsgroups dealing with quotations proved to be frustrating. I enlisted the help of...

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