Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Old-Fashioned Scholarly Virtues

Professor Dr. Lorenzo Perilli, "What Researchers Really Want," 86 Humboldt Kosmos 46 (Dec. 2005):
Peace, time and trust. These three words sum up what research really needs. The demands of day-to-day research are just the opposite: haste, immediate results and accepting mistrustful controls. What counts is the quantity. You have to see to it that you publish as much as you can and get cited as often as possible. At the end of the day, publications and citations are simply lumped together and counted. Whether the work is of low quality or even insignificant is of no interest. ...

Scientific progress, whether it be in the humanities or the natural sciences, often evolves from originality, from turbulences in the calm flow of routine. But originality is not recognised and accepted. It takes time for new and unusual ideas to establish themselves. If a citation index or an impact factor (i.e., the principle of "let's see how often I'm cited"), both of which are being applied more and more nowadays, had been used to assess the value of young Albert Einstein's or Kurt Goedel's work, a research proposed by either of them would never have attained a position in the academic world.

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