How Should You Distribute Your Craft Beer?

So you’ve made your own craft beer and want to start selling it around the country and possibly around the world. Where to begin? It should be straightforward but the food and beverage industry is...

News Company - avatar News Company

The Mobile Liberation and Imprisonment

We all walk around with a device in our pockets that are capable of things that go way beyond just calling someone. They are little entertainment and communication devices that have shaped our daily r...

News Company - avatar News Company

3 lessons from behavioural economics Bill Shorten's Labor Party forgot about

Three simple lessons from behavioural economics would have helped the Labor Party sell its economic credentials.www.shutterstock.comThe Australian Labor Party’s 2019 election campaign showed a d...

Tracey West, Lecturer in Behavioural Finance, Griffith University - avatar Tracey West, Lecturer in Behavioural Finance, Griffith University

‘Bright white skeletons’: some Western Australian reefs have the lowest coral cover on record

Corals at Scott Reef in 2012, and at the same site during the 2016 mass bleaching.James Gilmour/AIMSDiving on the remote coral reefs in the north of Western Australia during the world’s worst bl...

James Paton Gilmour, Research Scientist: Coral Ecology, Australian Institute of Marine Science - avatar James Paton Gilmour, Research Scientist: Coral Ecology, Australian Institute of Marine Science

From sharks in seagrass to manatees in mangroves, we've found large marine species in some surprising places

When we think of mangrove forests, seagrass meadows and saltmarshes, we don’t immediately think of shark habitats. But the first global review of links between large marine animals (megafauna) a...

Michael Sievers, Research Fellow, Global Wetlands Project, Australia Rivers Institute, Griffith University - avatar Michael Sievers, Research Fellow, Global Wetlands Project, Australia Rivers Institute, Griffith University

Aboriginal mothers are incarcerated at alarming rates – and their mental and physical health suffers

Being separated from their children affects the mental well-being of Aboriginal mothers in prison.ChrisMilesProductions/ShutterstockAboriginal women are the fastest growing prison population in Austra...

Sacha Kendall, Post-doctoral research fellow in public health, University of Technology Sydney - avatar Sacha Kendall, Post-doctoral research fellow in public health, University of Technology Sydney

How close is Sydney to the vision of creating three 30-minute cities?

Sydney CBD is highly accessible and remains clearly the dominant centre in the metropolitan region.Holli/ShutterstockThe Greater Sydney Commission has proposed a 40-year vision of a metropolitan regio...

Somwrita Sarkar, Senior Lecturer in Design and Computation, University of Sydney - avatar Somwrita Sarkar, Senior Lecturer in Design and Computation, University of Sydney

Hidden women of history: Ennigaldi-Nanna, curator of the world's first museum

The National Museum of Iraq photographed in February 2018. Many of the pieces discovered at the ruins of Ur, arranged and labelled by Ennigaldi-Nanna, can be found here.Wikimedia CommonsIn this series...

Louise Pryke, Lecturer, Languages and Literature of Ancient Israel, Macquarie University - avatar Louise Pryke, Lecturer, Languages and Literature of Ancient Israel, Macquarie University

The 'pulse' of a volcano can be used to help predict its next eruption

The 2018 eruption of Kilauea volcano was preceded by damage of the magma plumbing system at the summit.Courtesy of Grace Tobin, 60 Minutes, Author providedPredicting when a volcano will next blow is t...

Rebecca Carey, Senior Lecturer in Earth Sciences, University of Tasmania - avatar Rebecca Carey, Senior Lecturer in Earth Sciences, University of Tasmania

Queensland paper backtracks after using violent imagery to depict Annastacia Palaszczuk

Social media backlash and a Queensland government complaint to the Australian Press Council has forced the Sunshine Coast Daily to apologise to its readers for picturing Queensland Premier Annastacia ...

Jenna Price, Senior lecturer, University of Technology Sydney - avatar Jenna Price, Senior lecturer, University of Technology Sydney

Bowen carries baggage into Labor leadership contest

Shadow treasurer Chris Bowen is running for Labor leader, despite carrying the baggage of being the architect of election policies, especially on franking credits, now being blamed after Saturday&rsqu...

Michelle Grattan, Professorial Fellow, University of Canberra - avatar Michelle Grattan, Professorial Fellow, University of Canberra

US-China relations are certainly at a low point, but this is not the next Cold War

Though a Cold War between China and the US seems unlikely, there are still repercussions of a deepening rift.Roman Pilipey/EPATrump’s long-threatened trade war with China is now a reality. Beiji...

Nick Bisley, Head of Humanities and Social Sciences and Professor of International Relations at La Trobe University, La Trobe University - avatar Nick Bisley, Head of Humanities and Social Sciences and Professor of International Relations at La Trobe University, La Trobe University

Here's how to make opinion polls more representative and honest

Better opinions polls are more expensive because pollsters need to spend more effort getting a representative and honest sample of voters.ShutterstockIn 2012, US statistician Nate Silver correctly pre...

Adrian Barnett, Professor of Statistics; President of the Statistical Society of Australia, Queensland University of Technology - avatar Adrian Barnett, Professor of Statistics; President of the Statistical Society of Australia, Queensland University of Technology

After Clive Palmer's $60 million campaign, limits on political advertising are more important than ever

Clive Palmer didn't win any seats for his party in the election, but he says his massive advertising spend was "worth it" to prevent Bill Shorten from becoming prime minister.Darren England/AAPCan bil...

Marian Sawer, Emeritus Professor, School of Politics and International Relations, Australian National University - avatar Marian Sawer, Emeritus Professor, School of Politics and International Relations, Australian National University

imageIt's the research that counts.Library by Shutterstock

I love my job. I’m trying to understand how plants build themselves out of thin air. It’s exciting, it’s creative, it’s beautiful and on top of all that it’s important and useful. I like working with other people with different perspectives and I like the sharing of ideas and the piece-by-piece building of understanding from careful observation, experiment and analysis. Then there are those rare eureka moments when suddenly something that was obscure makes sense and unconnected ideas fit together to make a satisfying whole.

All these motivations for life as a researcher are evident in the results of a survey conducted as part of a project led by the Nuffield Council on Bioethics to examine the culture of scientific research in the UK. The 970 survey respondents, most of whom work in universities, picked improving their knowledge, making discoveries for the benefit of society and satisfying their curiosity to describe what motivates them in their work; and they identified collaboration, creativity, openness and multidisciplinary working as hallmarks of a high quality research culture.

But the project has also uncovered threats to the vibrancy of this intellectual melting pot. While participants in the project acknowledged the positive influence of competition in driving up the quality of research, they also expressed concerns about the current criteria used to find the competition winners.

Competition in science

Science has always been competitive. There are more ideas for new research projects than there is money to fund them – and there are more people wanting to pursue careers in research than there are jobs for them to fill.

With the expansion of the scientific enterprise, the current squeeze on resources and the drive toward more assessment at all levels, researchers are spending increasing amounts of time competing for funding and for jobs, and assessing the applications of their peers for funding and for jobs. Some aspects of research assessment are reasonably objective: have these experiments been designed rigorously? Does this researcher have an established track record in using these techniques?

However, many aspects are fundamentally subjective and inexact. Is this project exciting? Will this person revolutionise the field? All these judgements take time and careful perusal, and all of them require the judges to accept the subjectivity of the exercise. But time is in short supply and scientists don’t like basing their decisions on subjective criteria.

As a result a range of easy-to-collect metrics have been widely adopted as proxies for scientific excellence.

Publish or perish

Researchers are now assessed almost entirely on the research papers that they have published in peer-reviewed journals. These are easier to assess than important but less-tangible qualities such as public engagement and training and support provided to colleagues. But even assessing papers is time-consuming and subjective. So instead, it is now common to use proxies such as the number of times other people have cited the papers.

However, garnering significant numbers of these is only possible for papers published some time ago, so often quality is assessed by the perceived prestige of the journal in which the paper is published. Although it is widely agreed that using journal prestige in research assessments has serious limitations, the researchers who took part in our study were clear that publishing in prestigious journals is still thought to be the most important element in determining whether researchers gain funding, jobs and promotions.

The wrong incentives

A relentless focus on publishing papers in prestigious journals can lead to a wide range of non-ideal practices, such as over-claiming the significance of research findings, sticking to trendy areas of science and leaving important but confirmatory results unpublished due to lack of incentives to spend the time writing them up.

This can erode the quality of science in the short term, but the long-term effects are even more worrying. If research stops being about finding out how the world works for the benefit of society, and becomes being about competing to get your work published in a particular journal, then the most creative and brilliant people will go and do something else. The people who stay in research will be those mostly motivated by wanting to look good according to some semi-arbitrary yardstick. This is causing widespread unease in the research community.

So what should be done about it? The good news is that since assessment processes are implemented almost entirely by the very researchers who are worried about them, it should be possible to change them. However, another clear result from the Nuffield project is that everyone in the system – funders, universities, publishers and editors, professional bodies, and researchers – claim to be powerless to change things, believing that it is someone else’s responsibility.

We hope the findings of the project will stimulate discussion and debate about how to shift the culture back to its roots in creativity and innovation, coupled with rigour and openness. If left unchallenged, the current trends will inevitably influence what science gets done and therefore what we learn about the world, what problems we’re able to solve and whether public funding is well spent. This is not just some arcane academic debate, it matters to everyone.

image

Ottoline Leyser is Deputy Chair of the Nuffield Council on Bioethics, which carried out the survey mentioned in this article

Read more http://theconversation.com/the-dark-side-of-research-when-chasing-prestige-becomes-the-prize-35001