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Science Moneyball: The Secret to a Successful Academic Career 42

Posted by samzenpus
from the publish-or-perish dept.
sciencehabit (1205606) writes "For biomedical researchers who aspire to run their own labs, the secret is to publish frequently, as first author, and in top journals. That career advice may seem obvious, but this time it's backed up by a new analysis of data scraped from PubMed, the massive public repository of biological abstracts. The study, reported today in Current Biology, uses the status of last author as a proxy for academic success. Those corresponding authors are likely to be running their own labs, the brass ring that young researchers are trying to grab. See what your chances are using Science's PI Predictor graph."
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Science Moneyball: The Secret to a Successful Academic Career

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  • Re:Chicken or Egg (Score:5, Insightful)

    by OneAhead (1495535) on Monday June 02, 2014 @06:55PM (#47150549)

    Regarding the "publishing quality results is what will get you that" part, I'd argue it's exactly the opposite. Maybe we have a different idea of quality, but really groundbreaking science is high-risk science and will rarely get you the prescribed frequent publications, especially early in a project. Dull "me-too" science will. So will milking out every small incremental finding in a separate publication and spending more time writing and revising papers than doing actual science. This is partially demonstrated by the fact that papers in "lesser" journals count just as much.(*) To me, this is a big part of what's wrong with the current state of science.

    (*) At the same time, I feel we should do away with journal rankings and impact factors altogether. They're a relic from the pre-internet age, where it wasn't trivial to know the number of citations an individual paper or author gets. But that's a different discussion.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday June 02, 2014 @07:59PM (#47150955)

    There is always this complaint about people going for low-hanging fruit, though groundbreaking ideas do not happen in isolation. It is rare to find people with very strong results and not having a paper trail of other results on related problems.

    You need a constant stream of good publications, though not groundbreaking ones, to get your lab funded, and while you keep that alive you can work on your crazy ideas on the side. This is at least one proven approach for having a career in academia while not risking your life's dream for something that might not work out. Most other strategies are pure lottery and many fail, unable to pursue their life dream because they thought too big without a backup plan.

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