In this article, related to a talk given at the International Meeting “Photosynthesis Research for Sustainability–2015”, we honor Dr. George C. Papageorgiou, a highly respected scientist and an outstanding teacher and mentor. Praising him for these virtues, indispensable for research sustainability, we also bring to discussion aspects that undermine nowadays both education and research sustainability. We argue that these aspects are principally created by the predominant bureaucratic system, which, by favoring short-term utilitarian orientations and obeying “market laws”, jeopardizes university freedom and autonomy, and has turned to “measuring” scientific “production” and establishing accordingly designed funding policies and hiring/firing/promotion criteria, which lead to merit-chasing, grant-hunting, changes in publication practice, and suppression of heterodox ideas. Such system impedes research, creates antagonism, and drives the potentially creative researcher away from originality and discovery, and from the unique satisfaction and benefit that these bring.
This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.
Buy single article
Instant access to the full article PDF.
Price excludes VAT (USA)
Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout.
Allen J.F.: Research and how to promote it in a university. — Future Med. Chem. 2: 15–20, 2010.
Blankenship E., Tiede D.M., Barber J. et al.: Comparing photosynthetic and photovoltaic efficiencies and recognizing the potential for improvement. — Science 332: 805–809, 2011.
Brembs B., Button K., Munafὸ M.: Deep impact: unintended consequences of journal rank. — Front. Hum. Neurosci. 7: 291, 2013.
Campbell P.: Escape from the impact factor. — Ethics Sci. Environ. Polit. 8: 5–7, 2008.
Callier V., Polka J.: Fellowships are the future. — Nature 528: 155–156, 2015.
Colquhoun D.: Challenging the tyranny of impact factors. — Nature 423: 479, 2003.
Colquhoun D.: How to get good science. — Physiol. News 69: 12–14, 2007.
COPE-Committee of Publication Ethics: Report: How to handle authorship disputes: a guide for new researchers. — http://publicationethics.org/files/2003pdf12_0.pdf, 2003.
COPE-Committee of Publication Ethics: Report: Ethical guidelines for peer reviewers. — http://publicationethics.org/ files/Ethical_guidelines_for_peer_reviewers_0.pdf, 2013.
DORA-San Francisco Declaration on Research Assessment: Putting science into the assessment of research. — http://www.ascb.org/dora/, 2012.
Editorial: Citation data: the wrong impact?–Nature Neurosci. 1: 641–642, 1998.
Editorial: Cash-per-publication is an idea best avoided. — Nature 441: 786, 2006.
Egilman D.S., Druar N.M.: Corporate versus public interests: community responsibility to defend scientific integrity. — Int. J. Occup. Env. Heal. 17: 181–185, 2011.
Fang F.C., Steen R.G., Casadevall A.: Misconduct accounts for the majority of retracted scientific publications. — P. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 109: 17028–17033, 2012.
Garfield E.: The history and meaning of the journal impact factor. — JAMA-J. Am. Med. Assoc. 295: 90–93, 2006.
Garwood J.: A conversation with Peter Lawrence, Cambridge. “The heart of Research is sick”. — Lab Times 2: 24–31, 2011.
Genty B., Briantais J.-M., Baker N.R.: The relationship between the quantum yield of photosynthetic electron transport and quenching of chlorophyll fluorescence. — Biochim. Biophys. Acta 990: 87–92, 1989.
Ginsberg B.: Tenure and academic freedom: The beginning of the end. — http://www.academicmatters.ca/2012/05/tenure-andacademic-freedom-the-beginning-of-the-end/, 2012.
Hirsch J.E.: An index to quantify an individual’s scientific research output. — P. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 102: 16569–16572, 2005.
Hubel D.H.: The way biomedical research is organized has dramatically changed over the past half-century: Are the changes for the better? — Neuron 64: 161–163, 2009.
ICMJE-International Committee of Medical Journal Editors: Recommendations for the conduct, reporting, editing, and publication of scholarly work in medical journals. — http://www.icmje.org/icmje-recommendations.pdf, 2015.
Kern H.: Humboldt’s educational ideal and modern academic education. — http://www.drc.uns.ac.rs/presentations/05_DS/ 03-Prof.Dr.HeinrichKern.pdf, 2010.
Kromdijk J., Głowacka K., Leonelli L. et al: Improving photosynthesis and crop productivity by accelerating recovery from photoprotection. — Science 354: 857–861, 2016.
Lawrence P.A.: Rank injustice. — Nature 415: 835–836, 2002.
Lawrence P.A.: The politics of publications. — Nature 422: 259–261, 2003.
Lawrence P.A.: The mismeasurement of science. — Curr. Biol. 17: 583–585, 2007.
Lawrence P.A.: Lost in publication: how measurement harms science. — Ethics Sci. Environ. Polit. 8: 9–11, 2008.
Lawrence P.A.: Real lives and white lies in the funding of scientific research: the granting system turns young scientists into bureaucrats and then betrays them. — PLoS Biol. 7: e1000197, 2009.
Lawrence P.A.: Rank, reinvention and the Nobel Prize. — Curr. Biol. 22: R214–R216, 2012.
Lawrence P.A.: The last 50 years: Mismeasurement and mismanagement are impeding scientific research. — Curr. Top. Dev. Biol. 116: 617–631, 2016.
Lee A., Dennis C., Campbell P.: Nature’s guide for mentors. — Nature 447: 791–797, 2007.
Lorenz C.: Will the universities survive the European integration? Higher education policies in the EU and in the Netherlands before and after the Bologna Declaration. — Sociol. Internat. 44: 123–151, 2006.
Lorenz C.: If you’re so smart, why are you under surveillance? Universities, neoliberalism, and New Public Management. — Crit. Inquiry 38: 599–629, 2012.
Monastersky R.: The number that’s devouring science: the impact factor, once a simple way to rank scientific journals, has become an unyielding yardstick for hiring, tenure, and grants. — Chron. High Educ. 52: A12, 2005.
Morrish L.: Raising the bar: the metric tide that sinks all boats. — https://academicirregularities.wordpress.com/2015/11/26/raising-the-bar-the-metric-tide-that-sinks-all-boats/, 2015.
Oxborough K., Baker N.R.: Resolving chlorophyll a fluorescence images of photosynthetic efficiency into photochemical and non-photochemical components–calculation of qP and Fv′/Fm′ without measuring Fo′. — Photosynth. Res. 54: 135–142, 1997.
Petsko G.A.: Goodbye, Columbus. — Genome Biol. 13: 155, 2012a.
Petsko G.A.: Out of Africa. — Genome Biol. 13: 162, 2012b.
Power M.: The Audit Society: Rituals of Verification. Pp. 183. Oxford University Press, Oxford 1997.
Rossner M., Van Epps H., Hill E.: Show me the data. — J. Cell Biol. 179: 1091–1092, 2007.
Seglen P.O.: Why the impact factor of journals should not be used for evaluating research. — BMJ 314: 498–502, 1997.
Shore C.: Audit culture and illiberal governance. Universities and the politics of accountability. — Anthropol. Theor. 8: 278–298, 2008.
Simkin M.V., Roychowdhury V.P.: Read before you cite!–Complex Syst. 14: 269–274, 2003.
Spinak E.: Ethical editing–Ghostwriting is an unhealthy practice. — SciELO in Perspective, http://blog.scielo.org/en/2014/01/16/ethical-editing-ghostwriting-is-an-unhealthy-practice, 2014.
SSIC-Swiss Science and Innovation Council: Press Release: “50 years of the Swiss Science and Innovation Council: Plea for Quality over Quantity”. — http://www.swir.ch/images/stories/pdf/en/Press_release_50_years_SSC_EN.pdf, 2015.
Stamatakis K., Allakhverdiev S.I., Garab G., Govindjee: Honoring George C. Papageorgiou. — Photosynthetica 54: 158–160, 2016.
Tanaka A., Makino A.: Photosynthetic research in plant science. — Plant Cell Physiol. 50: 681–683, 2009.
Taverne D.: How science upholds civilization, human rights and democracy. — Nature 459: 774, 2009.
The PLoS Medicine Editors: The impact factor game. It is time to find a better way to assess the scientific literature. — PLoS Med. 3: e291, 2006.
Vanclay J.K.: Impact Factor: outdated artifact or stepping-stone to journal certification? — Scientometrics 92: 211–238, 2012.
Walsh J.P., Lee Y.-N.: The bureaucratization of science. — Res. Policy 44: 1584–1600, 2015.
Williamson J.R.: My h-index turns 40: my midlife crisis of impact. — ACS Chem. Biol. 4: 311–313, 2009.
Wilsdon J., Allen L., Belfiore E. et al.: The Metric Tide: Report of the Independent Review of the Role of Metrics in Research Assessment and Management. — http://www.hefce.ac.uk/pubs/rereports/Year/2015/metrictide/Title,104463,en.html, 2015.
Yamada D.: What is academic tenure?–https://newworkplace.wordpress.com/2011/08/22/what-isacademic-tenure/, 2011.
Dedicated to George C. Papageorgiou, who has been serving for more than 50 years the science and education of photosynthesis with integrity and devotion.
Acknowledgements: We thank Prof. John F. Allen (University College London, UK) and Prof. Robert C. Jennings (University of Milan, Italy) for critical reading of the manuscript and valuable suggestions.
Rights and permissions
About this article
Cite this article
Tsimilli-Michael, M., Haldimann, P. Sustainability of photosynthesis research–when research is impeded by the cults of audit and management. Photosynthetica 55, 391–400 (2017). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11099-017-0686-3
Additional key words
- academic merit
- academic freedom
- research assessment