Metrics: a long-term threat to society

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A predictive h-index formula for measuring a scientist's potential success (D. E. Acuna et al. Nature 489, 201–202; 2012) might be convenient for decision-making by hiring committees and funding agencies, but such metrics threaten the researcher's wider contribution to society.

Long-term creativity is needed if scientists are to inspire the younger generation. As Albert Einstein said, “creativity is the residue of time wasted” — but researchers are no longer in a position to waste time.

Research pressures also curtail the quality of teaching and supervision, and disadvantage mothers who are trying to build a scientific career (K. R. O'Brien and K. P. Hapgood Oikos 121, 999–1004; 2012). Moreover, early burnout means that some highly trained scientists are being lost to society.

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Correspondence to Malgorzata Blicharska.

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Blicharska, M., Mikusinski, G. Metrics: a long-term threat to society. Nature 490, 343 (2012) doi:10.1038/490343a

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