Editor in chief of nature: it's time to change the rules for scientific research evaluation

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Editor in chief of nature: it's time to change the rules for scientific research evaluation

2017-05-25 20:37:15 666 ℃

Editor's note

At the end of April this year, "nature" (Nature) signed the "San Francisco declaration" of scientific research evaluation, evaluation don't advocate scientific research over reliance on periodical index based on science and technology, the daily reported the timely introduction of "end effect factor" tyranny ", is the time", caused widespread concern in the community. "Nature" has been opposed to the impact factor to evaluate the achievements in scientific research, in order to express this view and respond to the question, "nature" and the nature of scientific research editor Philip Campbell (Sir Philip Campbell), specifically wrote a signed article, hope that through science and technology daily this influential platform, and China science topic sincere communication.

As editor in chief of nature, I am very concerned about the impact of scientific research papers published in magazines. Every year, scientists around the world have sent us about 11 thousand papers, we edit and proofread technology strictly, only about 800 articles will be published. In recent years, the proportion of Chinese papers has been increasing, which is really gratifying. But how to measure the influence of nature? How best to assess the impact of each scientist? Most importantly, will these assessments be misused? How can we avoid being abused?

A measure of research impact papers index is the number of times an article is referred to other papers, which cited. The paper is highly cited and many scientists will be proud of it. Some papers on nature will be cited hundreds of times in the first two years after publication.

Nature, however, has published many papers that have been cited less frequently than this. But we still think these papers are important - we believe in our own judgment, and we think the author should be proud of it. This is because of the importance of measuring papers and other standards. Some papers may not be cancer genomics that, at the peak of the referenced, but in some areas of knowledge still can bring extraordinary views, such as how microbes in the environment to grow, or how our ancestors in ancient times development tools. We love these papers!

Of course, we also like the results of research published in other journals. Throughout the history of science, many of the most useful high citation papers are not published in nature or other more selective journals, such as science or the cell. If scientists are asked where they are most proud of their research, they tend to answer a list of other less well known and less cited journals. And, as more and more researchers focus on solving social challenges, more valuable and highly practical research, published in a traditional journal, not very conspicuous, these journals tend to be put into application of science at any time.

In other words, "nature" and other journals that are critically selective and have high impact factors represent only a small portion of important scientific literature. But look at the current practice of many people in academia, and you will think these journals are so important. In a highly competitive field, university administrators and subvented organizations are often obsessed with these journals. It seems to them that if you don't publish your paper in these glamorous journals, you're a loser. And, in some institutions, you get a big bonus if you publish a successful paper in these journals.

In 2013, a group of scientists and organizations declared war against the harmful ways of assessing individual scientists. They signed the "San Francisco declaration" (San Francisco research and assessment of Declaration on Research Assessment, referred to as DORA or the "San Francisco declaration"), emphasizing the evaluation index based on the thesis, especially the influence factor, was a misuse and harmful to the scientific community, so promise to avoid such practices.

Over the years, the journal Nature and its publications have also published editorials condemning the practice. Recently, as a publishing house, we have also added ways to assess our own success and reflect more on our work performance with more information. We believe that we can fulfill these principles in good faith, so I signed the San Francisco declaration last month on behalf of journals such as nature.

Managers of some universities and subvented organizations are not allowed to use crude reference indicators to judge individual researchers, which will undoubtedly make unfair treatment of excellent researchers. I hope our actions will send a clear message to these managers. They need to change the rules to assess scientists with finer and more appropriate standards. For example, researchers may consider the most meaningful studies as the focus of their assessment. Bonuses should be stopped when papers are published in highly influential journals.

Audit: Guan Jing