The Effect of “Publish or Perish” Motto on Academics
The Effect of “Publish or Perish” Motto on Academics
Retailing, warehousing and producing knowledge are the core missions of the academic scholars in the universities. Universities “warehouse” knowledge through libraries; they disseminate or “retail” knowledge via their teaching function; and they produce or “manufacture” knowledge through research (Hunt, 2000). In order to accomplish these missions, namely to enhance the production and dissemination quantum of the knowledge, governmental institutions and university administrations use incentive and reward systems (Bloom et al. , 1988).
These systems present in most universities acknowledge publications and citations as the evidence of scholarly achievement and necessity for promotion, grant, and tenure (Darko, 2003). However, incentive and reward systems in academia were considered to lead a publish or perish syndrome by keeping the academic staff under pressure (Bloom et al. , 1988). On the one hand, these systems lead to a an increase in the quantity of books and papers (Bloom et al. , 1988); on the other hand, the quality of the generated knowledge may decrease since the academics aim to reach maximum number of publications (Nyilasy et al., 2007). As it is seen, these systems have both advantageous and disadvantageous.
In this context, the objective of this paper is to analyze whether the incentive and reward systems have institutionalized a restrictive approach to knowledge development or they enhance and encourage the producing of the knowledge. On the other hand, it will be tried to compare the Turkey’s current academic environment with the other countries in the context of ethical academic behaviours.
THE OBJECTIVE OF ACADEMICS Marketing as a university discipline has several responsibilities such as; to society, for providing objective knowledge and technically competent, socially responsible, liberally educated graduates;
To students, for providing an education that will enable them to get on the “socioeconomic ladder” and prepare them for their roles as competent, responsible marketers and citizens; to marketing practice, for providing a continuing supply of competent, responsible entrants to the marketing profession and for providing new knowledge about both the micro and macro dimensions of marketing; and to the academy, for upholding its mission of retailing, warehousing and producing knowledge, its contract with society of objective knowledge for academic freedom, and its core values of reason, evidence, openness and civility (Hunt, 2002, p. 306).
In parallel with this view, Irele (1993, p. 74) claimed that “A university has three functions to perform which are to conserve knowledge; to advance knowledge; and to disseminate knowledge. It falls short of the full realization of its aim unless, having provided for the conservation and advancement of knowledge, it makes provision for its dissemination as well”.
It can be revealed from these statements that, production and dissemination of the knowledge are two of the core missions of universities. Knowledge produced by academic researchers tends to be distributed to the discipline through research books, journals, academic conferences, training and development courses ((Bloom et al. , 1988; McKenzie et al. , 2002; Nyilasy et al. , 2007). However, according to the American Marketing Association (as of now AMA) Task Force on the development of marketing, academic researchers do not produce and disseminate enough publications (Bloom et al., 1988).
Furthermore, there is a dissemination problem that academicians are not successful in disseminating the knowledge they generate (Nyilasy et al. , 2007). In order to overcome these problems and increase the production and dissemination of knowledge, and also to become more competitive, university management boards apply incentive and reward systems (Bloom et al. , 1988). INCENTIVE AND REWARDS SYSTEMS At first sight, the incentive and reward systems may be seen well functioning that it leads to increase on knowledge generation and motivate the researchers.
However there are several disadvantages and side effects of these systems and in the literature the outcomes of these systems have been criticized by several authors under the “publish or perish” mantra (List at al. , 2007;Bloom et al. , 1988; Nyilasy et al. , 2007; Brennan & Ankers, 2004; Darko, 2003; Remus, 1977; Gad-el-hak, 2004). One of the best explanation of publish or perish doctrine made by P. Van Den Berghe (1970, p. 87) as “”Publishing has become a compulsion.
The average academic author does not write because he has something to say, because he hopes to contribute to knowledge, or because he has fun doing it; rather, he writes and publishes in order to improve his vita. This document is frequently the only thing about him which his colleagues will ever read; it is the passport to academic success; and, beyond the routine acquisition of a Ph. D. , published titles are the main ornament of a vita. ” On the other hand, there are some alternative views such as Blunt (1973) claimed that equating not publishing with perishing is an over dramatization of the present condition.
In fact, in this context incentive and rewards refers to “tenure” and “promotion”. Namely, in order to get a tenure or promotion to the more senior academic positions it is essential to publish books, academic paper and be cited (Blunt, 1973). In addition, Remus (1977) claimed that publication is one of the most essential criterion for gaining tenure and promotion in a highly competitive academic environment which Remus defined this environment as a treacherous dog-eat-dog world metaphorically.
Since AMA (1988) claimed that publications in the marketing field is not enough and there need to overcome the impediments in order to increase the quantity of the publications. The AMA assessed several suggestions to motivate the researchers; the researchers must be provided large scale funding source and faculty release time for their research; the average revision time of the journals must be decreased as much as possible, thus further expenditures of time and effort of both reviewers and authors will be prevented; special workshops and consortia must be supported related to the need of the researchers.
To sum up, this system is very effective and advantageous in order to motivate the researchers and achieve a maximum number of publications. However, there are also some disadvantageous and side effects of this system. In the next section the negative effects of this system will be criticized. SIDE EFFECTS OF INCENTIVE AND REWARD SYSTEMS As discussed in the preceding sections, the system puts the researcher under the pressure of publishing more and more books, journals and conference papers.
The strong and undesirable incentives motivate especially the young academics through knowledge development (Blunt, 1973). However, it is extremely short-term in orientation and the system discourages risk-taking in the development of new ideas, discourages investment in long-term projects on significant issues, and instead encourages minor improvements in establishing ideas (Bloom et al. , 1988). On the other hand, the young academicians have started to publish books without getting enough wisdom in a particular field (Gad-el-hak, 2004).
When the researcher’s age and experience increase, they provide fewer contributions to the journals. The AMA stated the possible reason for this situation as following; (1) A sense that the rewards for research and publication have been less than expected or are simply insufficient to justify additional effort. (2) A cumulative frustration with the competitive review processes of the major journals of the field. (3) An increased need or desire for outside income during the middle years of one’s career.
(4) An increased capability to undertake activities that hold higher personal value (e. g. , teaching, consulting, administrative positions) than does research and writing(Bloom et al. , 1988, p. 4). Another important issue affected by the system is the quality concern. Publish or perish philosophy makes the researchers give more importance to the quantity of the publications rather than quality (Lofthouse, 1974). In order to get a tenure or promotion, most researchers focus on publishing as much as they can, even sometimes they use “cut-and-paste” to reach their goals.
Furthermore, to fulfil the increasing demand for publishing papers, everyday more and more journals enter the academic market. Thus, there have been the journals stratified into several quality categories which fits different quality papers (Gad-el-hak, 2004). However, since journals are peer reviewed they can preserve their quality in balance (Bloom et al. , 1988). The quality concern is emerged in book publishing as well and probably more noteworthy that there is no need to be reviewed which makes it easier to publish a book than a journal article accepted (Gad-el-hak, 2004).
Gad-el-Hak (2004) provided some extreme examples related to the quantity of publications. The first one is a dean of major school of engineering listed 52 papers that he wrote just in a year which equals to publishing a paper every week. In the second example, a professor was introduces at a meeting as the author of 80 books in his 20 year career which is equal to a book every three months. Citation documents the ? ow of information and the links within and among disciplines or other units of analysis (Goldman & Grinstein, 2010).
The number of citations is a dominant criterion for promotion, salary increases and funding. It also will determine to what extent the individual researcher is seen as a thought leader. On the other hand, it is an indicator of quality, innovativeness and contribution of the publication to the science. Therefore, the researchers try to maximize the number of times they are cited (Verniers, 2010). However, except the articles published in top journals which represent the core of a discipline, most articles receive few or no citation (Van Dalen & Klamer, 2005).
Also some researchers use make citation unethically. For example, authors generally do not actually consult some of the references they cite, some authors add references at the completion of a research because they support the researcher’s arguments or findings authors often reference well known authors in order to add credibility and prestige, and that misquotations of what is actually written in the references are prevalent (Goldman & Grinstein, 2010, p.1389)
As Hunt (2000) claimed another mission of academics is the retailing the knowledge in terms of teaching. However, since the “publish or perish” motto force the academics to focus on publications, especially the young academicians give less emphasis to the teaching function (Blunt, 1973). On the other hand, this motto also affects the relationship level between the practitioners and academicians. Brennan and Ankers (2004, p. 511) claimed that “It seems clear that although academics would like to get closer to practitioners, they are inhibited by institutional factors, such as academic reward systems and the “publish or perish” culture”.
Since the Publish or perish culture suppresses the academics, they are tempted to perform unethical behaviours such as copying research, faking data and statistics, intentionally leaving out erroneous findings (Van Dalen & Klamer, 2005). (List et al., 2007) made a research on this topic and proved that some researchers have falsified the research data; also they became co-authors of the papers without contributing.
In addition, Remus (1977) very clearly identified the publication tricks as following; Joint Author Trick, colleagues write papers independently, and they add his / her colleagues name to the paper. Thus, in average both get more point. Experimental Trip trick, in some cases the academics force the students to participate in experiments. Thus, they can set up experiments in a very short time and free of charge.
Graduate Student Gap, Graduate students perform great effort to show him qualified, so the academics may use them for library research, analyze and write up the data, or to find new creative research topics. Senior Author Trick, sometimes the junior academics use the name of senior, well-known authors in their studies without their contribution to publish their articles in top journals and books in quality publishers. Kitchen Sink Trick, since the data gathering phase is time consuming, they may use the same data more than once for different articles.
In order to overcome the side effects of the publish or perish concept, Gad-el-Hak (2004) offered some suggestions such as; resumes submitted to promotion and tenure committees should be limited to listing only 5–10 the most significant publications; co-authors should contribute meaningfully to a publication and no name should be added merely because he or she is a member of a research group, or worse, the head of the group; journals should publish their impact factor and it should be an important consideration when libraries decide which journals to drop; Completed book manuscripts should go through peer review before publication.
PUBLISH OR PERISH SYSTEM IN TURKEY In this section, as an academic member in a university, I will express my observations about the functioning of publish or perish system by comparing with the outside of Turkey. There is an incentive and rewards system in Turkey as well. For example, In order to apply for an Associate Professor position, academicians have to get at least 6 points by publishing books, articles, conference papers and being cited (UAK, 2012). In addition, The Scientific and Technological Research Council of Turkey (TUBITAK) makes payment for the articles published in top journals in order to motivate academics.
However the side effects in terms unethical academic consequences of the system is very similar to the other countries. Probably, one of the most important factors is they are assigned many courses to teach and also they are charged with administrative work load. The most common unethical behaviours in Turkey are plagiarism refers to stealing from other authors’ publications without citation and permission, duplication which is publishing the same or similar papers in different journals or conferences, Fabrication which is making up unreal results and publish, and Salamization refers to slicing up one research in more or less identical papers (Ruacan, 2008).
As indicated in the AMA task force report (1988), most of the senior academicians slow up researching and publishing, instead they mostly focus on consulting to the private sector companies, administrative functions, organizing conferences in their most productive period in Turkey as well. On the other hand in order to increase the quantity of their publications some academics search for the journals, mostly in third world countries such as African journals, that they can easily publish their unqualified articles.
Furthermore, some of the academics make a deal with publishing companies to publish their book. Actually, the aim is not selling the book and making profit. In most cases the only reason is just getting point to get a promotion or tenure. In addition, authors in Turkey use joint author trick which was stated by Remus (1977) to gain more point. For instance, there are three colleagues and each of them prepared a paper. If they publish them as single authored in an international journal, each will get 3 points independently.
However, if they write the other two colleagues’ names as co-authors each will get 5. 4 point which is approximately twice of the former choice (UAK, 2012). CONCLUSION To sum up, producing and disseminating of the knowledge is one of the most crucial missions for the universities. To accomplish this duty, the administrative directors of the universities and Institutes of Higher Education use some incentive and reward systems. However, in some cases these strategies put the academic staff under the pressure which is called as the “Publish or Perish” motto.
Thus, in order to survive in the academic world, the members sometimes look for some unethical ways such as plagiarism, salamization, duplication, fabrication, joint author, publishing unqualified books, and so on. While the quantity of the publications increases, their quality may decrease. In my opinion, being academic members must be encouraged by increasing the salary of the member, providing extra opportunities, to increase the attraction of being a faculty member.
Thus, the more qualified people will demand to be an academician and the cumulative quality of the universities and academics will increase and probably there will be a decrease in the rate of unethical academic behaviour. On the other hand, some reformations must be made to prevent the unstandardized proceedings, patronages, and unfairness: In this way, the motivation and quality of the junior academic personnel will increase and they would be more productive. REFERENCES Berghe, P. (1970).
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University/College: University of California
Type of paper: Thesis/Dissertation Chapter
Date: 23 September 2016
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