sonal gratification derived from scholarship and discovery, recognition by peers, and academic promotion and tenure, as well as enhanced responsibility and outside financial opportunities. The successful researcher can attract continuing research support and can enjoy a reputation that opens new opportunities for prestigious appointments.
The academic reward system today is influenced largely by research performance and productivity, sometimes measured by the number of publications or total amount of research support acquired by individual faculty. Intellectual contributions, teaching, and service to the university and the public are considered in varying degrees depending on the institution and discipline. However, there appears to be an imbalance, with emphasis on publication output and research support as the basis for promotion and tenure (Boyer, 1990).4
Quantitative measures of productivity have occasionally become substitutes for the critical evaluation of scientific work. This reliance on numbers arises in part because departmental peers are less able to evaluate the contribution of an individual researcher to large scientific projects or to interdisciplinary teams with an applied research approach. Attribution of credit among individuals on multiauthored publications is also difficult. Even when the form of an individual's contribution is clear, the significance of the contribution is often arguable.
The “publish-or-perish” dictum can lead to overspecialization, overemphasis on short-term projects, and the organization of research communication around the “least publishable unit.” Theoretical approaches, including computer simulations, that yield especially rapid results can be favored over tedious programs of fundamental experiments. An excessive emphasis on quantitative measures of scientific productivity can penalize scientists who make responsible attempts to protect the quality of science (i.e., by delaying publication until they have completed a series of experiments instead of publishing each experiment). As Jackson and Prados (1983) have observed (p. 464):
Good scientists may publish a lot or a little. But there is a very definite evil in a university that allows or encourages tenure committees to set standards of, say twenty published papers or abstracts in four years as a minimum requirement for consideration, or to discard as irrelevant any paper in a branch of science other than the tenure candidate's principal field of specialization.
Some institutions have responded to the emphasis on large numbers by limiting the number of publications reviewed for promotion