Does Publish or Perish Kill Innovation?

If you’re a professor, you’re no stranger to the term “publish or perish.” And for good reason. The publish or perish phenomenon has been around since 1927 when consistent publication became the golden performance metric of successful professors. If faculty wanted to keep their jobs, they had to have the papers to prove they deserved it.

This trend is certainly alive and well today. In 2009 the University of Ottawa discovered that approximately 2.5 million—yes, million—scholarly scientific articles are published every year. Since the entire point of publish or perish is to create output, the standard certainly seems to be doing its job.

But at what cost?

Plenty of academics have opinions on publish or perish, but does any real evidence exist of its overarching positive or negative effects? The only way to find out—ironically—is to check out the published research.

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