Publish or perish: The innovator’s dogma.

Consider these three very illuminating ideas: (perhaps it rings true with my own confirmation, biases!)

This lack of correlation between publication and innovation is an outcome of

1) Goodhart’s Law, first enunciated by the British economist in 1975: “Any observed statistical regularity will tend to collapse once pressure is placed upon it for control purposes”.

2) Marilyn Strathern puts it more succinctly — “When a measure becomes a target, it ceases to be a good measure”.

3) This means that while publications may be a good estimator of innovative thinking, when people are tasked to publish for the sake of employment, it ceases to be an estimator of anything at all.

The author further writes:

Anybody who has been in the vicinity of academic publishing would know that acceptance of a paper for publication depends on (a) choice of an ‘acceptable’ subject (b) the ‘methodology’ of research and ‘style’ of representing it and (c) the ‘literature review’ and ‘references’ that weave a delicate but readily perceptible network that cycles through a self-sustaining ‘citation index’.

If it walks and quacks like a duck, it is a duck:

The originality of the idea or the elegance of its implementation has little impact on the acceptance of a paper in a scholarly journal.As long as it looks, walks and quacks like a duck — oops, like an academic paper — then it must be an academic paper worth publishing.

I can’t read the editor’s mind because their public utterances are entirely different from their actions.

On a personal note, I landed up with difficulties in getting my papers accepted for publication because the peer reviewer couldn’t understand the “technology” aspect. I can’t blame the “seasoned faculty” for such a thing. Snapchat, for example, is utterly alien to me but it is not for lack of trying. It is about value addition in my workflow. Telegram works like a linear application that gets my work done; Snapchat is more of a fad. Likewise, I can understand difficulties that people face whenever the issue about bots comes up, but whenever Telegram updates its Bots API, I am excited to try out the changes.

Papers should get out something new and fundamentally innovative. The rest of the article details the educational methodologies to encourage “out-of-the-box” thinking. Still, it is difficult because most “successful companies” would find comfort with the winning formula. Why change when the existing recipes contribute to the bottom line, anyway?

On the other hand, I am not discounting the importance of papers to step into academia. There’s a specific criterion for selection, and the “winners” have been able to learn the rules of the game. The rest of us must look up to them as “influencers” 🙂

via The Do’s And Don’ts Of Innovation For New India