Results-driven research imperative increases publish-or-perish pressure

July 15, 2014

A push at universities and funding bodies to produce marketable research may be exacerbating the usual publish-or-perish pressure felt by researchers. Dan Guitton, a professor at McGill University, told the Montreal Gazette that “having industry partners decide what research they want is very unlikely to generate great discoveries. This is only killing universities.” Nevertheless, some see close ties with business as a necessity if scientists want to innovate. “Not all research should be applied, but we should facilitate it when we can,” said Guy Breton, rector at the Université de Montréal. Breton notes that the cost of maintaining research is very high for universities, and that faculty grants often don’t cover indirect costs. But the drive to produce, as one researcher put it, “a sexy new result” often means researchers are taking more risks, potentially with careers on the line. This can lead to mistakes, or even fudging data, in spite of university safeguards against such dishonesty. Montreal Gazette