Monday, June 01, 2015

Publicize or Perish

Noam Scheiber, Beyond Publish or Perish, Academic Papers Look to Make a Splash NYTimes (May 31, 2015):

[M]any social scientists have observed that their disciplines, which once regarded the ability to attract attention with suspicion, increasingly reward it.


[T]he benefits to academics of generating media attention may be subtly skewing their research. “The pressure is tremendous,” said James Heckman, an economist at the University of Chicago and the winner of aNobel Memorial Prize in Economic Science. “Many young economists realize that they win a MacArthur or the Clark prize, or both, by being featured in The Times.”


All of this has led to a new model of disseminating social science research through the media. Several economists at top departments said colleagues were now tailoring and pitching their academic papers to journalists, rather than writing papers and allowing the news media to discover them on their own.

One danger is that many journalists are not equipped to distinguish good science from shoddy science. That is a particular risk when the work does not wend its way through the usual academic channels before entering the news media’s consciousness.

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