«The response of the scientific community to the changing performance metrics has been entirely rational: We spend much of our time taking “professional selfies.” In fact, many of us spend more time announcing ideas than formulating them. Being busy needs to be visible, and deep thinking is not. Academia has largely become a small-idea factory. Rewarded for publishing more frequently, we search for “minimum publishable units.” Not surprisingly, many papers turn out to be early “progress reports,” quickly superseded. At the same time, there is hugely increased pressure to secure outside funding, converting most of our best scientists into government contractors. As Roberta Ness [author of The Creativity Crisis] points out, the incentives for exploring truly novel ideas have practically disappeared». Segnaliamo un contributo di Donald Gemana e Stuart Geman (John Hopkins University, Brown University) apparso sui Proceedings of the National Academy of Science con il titolo Science in the age of selfies.
L’articolo si chiude con la seguente raccomandazione degli autori:
«Alberts et al. (12) recommend fundamental changes in the way universities and government agencies fund biomedical research, some intended to reduce hyper- competition and encourage risk-taking and original thinking. Such things move very slowly, if at all. In that 2014 letter to The Guardian, Braben et al. (11) suggest that small changes could keep science healthy. We agree, and suggest one: Change the criteria for measuring performance. In essence, go back in time. Discard numerical performance metrics, which many believe have negative impacts on scientific inquiry [see, for example, “The mismeasurement of science” by Peter Lawrence (17)]. Suppose, instead, every hiring and promotion decision were mainly based on reviewing a small number of publications chosen by the candidate. The rational reaction would be to spend more time on each project, be less inclined to join large teams in small roles, and spend less time taking professional selfies. Perhaps we can then return to a culture of great ideas and great discoveries.»