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The Scientometric Bubble Considered Harmful

Abstract

This article deals with a modern disease of academic science that consists of an enormous increase in the number of scientific publications without a corresponding advance of knowledge. Findings are sliced as thin as salami and submitted to different journals to produce more papers. If we consider academic papers as a kind of scientific ‘currency’ that is backed by gold bullion in the central bank of ‘true’ science, then we are witnessing an article-inflation phenomenon, a scientometric bubble that is most harmful for science and promotes an unethical and antiscientific culture among researchers. The main problem behind the scenes is that the impact factor is used as a proxy for quality. Therefore, not only for convenience, but also based on ethical principles of scientific research, we adhere to the San Francisco Declaration on Research Assessment when it emphasizes “the need to eliminate the use of journal-based metrics in funding, appointment and promotion considerations; and the need to assess research on its own merits rather on the journal in which the research is published”. Our message is mainly addressed to the funding agencies and universities that award tenures or grants and manage research programmes, especially in developing countries. The message is also addressed to well-established scientists who have the power to change things when they participate in committees for grants and jobs.

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Acknowledgments

Partially funded by project PMI USA1204, Centro de Innovación en Tecnologías de la Información para Aplicaciones Sociales, Universidad de Santiago de Chile, Chile.

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Correspondence to Gonzalo Génova.

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Génova, G., Astudillo, H. & Fraga, A. The Scientometric Bubble Considered Harmful. Sci Eng Ethics 22, 227–235 (2016). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11948-015-9632-6

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Keywords

  • Ethics in scientific publications
  • Careers in Academia
  • Research Assessment
  • Scientometrics
  • Impact factor