South Africa: stop personal profit from publication payouts

David Hedding rightly questions South Africa’s practice of financially rewarding researchers for their publications (Nature 565, 267; 2019). To my knowledge, and to that of my colleagues at other tertiary institutions here in South Africa, these subsidies are put towards further research (see K. G. Tomaselli S. Afr. J. Sci. 114, 4341; 2018). Using them for personal profit does indeed risk undermining our country’s scientific reputation and should be stopped.

Some might argue that personal reward helps to attract and retain researchers. I find that unlikely, because academic salaries in South Africa are second only to those in Canada (P. G. Altbach et al. in Almanac of Higher Education 89–99; NEA, 2013).

Punitive measures should be introduced for publication in predatory journals. Subsidies that scale according to journal rank (using the SCImago Journal & Country Rank indicator, for example) would also help to stem the flow of weak papers and those that ‘salami-slice’ research results.

Nature 566, 182 (2019)

doi: 10.1038/d41586-019-00548-5
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