What to do about peer review, publication, and tenure

As someone about four years into a University faculty position, I am about to enter a pre-tenure review process.

I am doing research, of which I am proud. Yet, as this article points out, there are so many agendas colliding in ways that have nothing to do with the exploration or sharing of new knowledge.

This quote is particularly on target:

How did things get so bad? It’s all about competition, supply and demand. Modern science is done in the context of a tournament mentality, with a large number of competitors (scientists) vying for a small number of prizes (jobs, tenure, funding). To be competitive, scientists must prove their “worth” through publications, and this pressure has created unanticipated challenges in how scientists report their own work and evaluate that of others – ultimately resulting in unacceptable delays in sharing sound science.

On the other side of this hazardous passage is the burgeoning credibility of online and open source journals, which can both promote the free (in all senses) sharing of knowledge AND at times exhibit predatory practices towards researchers.

I have no answers, but take some comfort in this article's conclusion:

Peer review clearly isn’t perfect, but rather than simply bypassing it and releasing even more information into an overloaded system, we should focus on making it better. The first step is to reset and clearly state our standards for quality in both publishing and peer reviewing. The outcome will certainly be fewer publications in biomedicine, but their individual impact will be greater. As a result, scholars will have a fighting chance to dedicate more time to evaluating new research and keeping up with the literature, which will facilitate progress.

cover image by MEDIACRAT. Reused under CC BY-SA 3.0