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Junior researchers

Hasty publication compromises rigour

The period between submitting a paper and its publication can sometimes exceed the time invested in achieving the results (see Nature 530, 148–151; 2016). Meanwhile, acquiring funding still hinges on clocking up publications in journals with high impact factors. These pressures pose a difficult choice for researchers, especially those in the early stages of their careers.

To compete for a faculty position or an independent grant, a PhD student must publish a handful of papers and then keep the ball rolling as a postdoc with at least one paper every year. The importance of publishing fast is hammered home during this period when, in our view, the emphasis should instead be on the reproducibility of results. In this battle for survival and growth, it is scientific rigour that might pay the price.

Even improvements in performance indicators — using citation counts, for example — are of little help to an early-career researcher. We need to move away from the 'publish or perish' ethos and towards incentives that reward scientific quality.

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Correspondence to Madhur Mangalam.

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Karve, S., Mangalam, M. Hasty publication compromises rigour. Nature 531, 305 (2016).

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