[URBANTH-L] NEWS: Come All Ye Scientists, Busy and Exhausted, oh come ye, oh come ye, out of the lab

Angela Jancius jancius at ohio.edu
Sun Dec 23 00:26:40 EST 2007

From: Kristopher Olds <olds at geography.wisc.edu>


Xmas Workaholism among Scientists
Posted by Eric on December 20th, 2007

A remarkable letter in today's correspondence section of Nature. For some 
odd reason, a group of scientists from Oxford and the National University of 
Singapore thought it would be a good idea to investigate the level of 
research activity of scientists during the holidays.

In order to find out how many submissions were made to academic journals on 
Christmas Day between 1996 and 2006, Richard Ladle, Ana Malhado and Peter 
Todd searched Google Scholar for articles received on 25 December. Even 
taking into account the overall increase in the volume of submissions, there 
were about 600% more manuscripts received by journals on 25 December in 2006 
than in 1996.

The authors suggest four potential reasons for this move towards seasonal 
workaholism among scientists:

We are collectively falling victim to the 'publish or perish' institutional 
culture, in which our professional success depends almost exclusively on our 
publication record.

The pressure on scientists to publish is paralleled by an increase in their 
administrative and teaching workloads. This pushes research and, in 
particular, writing into vacation periods.

With the wide-scale implementation of electronic submission systems in the 
late 1990s, most journals are now 'open for business' every day of the year.

Although Christmas Day seems to be an ideal opportunity to get on with some 
blissfully uninterrupted research, we would urge our fellow scientists to 
keep their laptops turned off and enjoy a bit of Christmas spirit. You never 
know, Santa might then be more inclined to bring you that most popular of 
presents - a paper published in Nature!

[Richard J. Ladle, Ana C. M. Malhado & Peter A. Todd. Come all ye 
scientists, busy and exhausted. O come ye, O come ye, out of the lab. Nature 
450, 1156 (20 December 2007)]

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