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A hypothesis to stop “Publish or Perish”


1 Department of Physiology, Nil Ratan Sircar Medical College and Hospital, Kolkata, India
2 Department of Physiology, Raiganj Government Medical College and Hospital, Raiganj, West Bengal, India

Date of Submission10-Feb-2021
Date of Decision11-May-2021
Date of Acceptance19-May-2021

Correspondence Address:
Himel Mondal,
Department of Physiology, Nil Ratan Sircar Medical College and Hospital, Kolkata - 700 014, West Bengal
India
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/mjdrdypu.mjdrdypu_110_21



How to cite this URL:
Mondal H, Mondal S. A hypothesis to stop “Publish or Perish”. Med J DY Patil Vidyapeeth [Epub ahead of print] [cited 2022 Dec 6]. Available from: https://www.mjdrdypv.org/preprintarticle.asp?id=336735



The phrase “publish or perish” is a bitter truth for the academic advancement of researchers and university teachers including medical teachers all over the world.[1] If you do research and do not publish, you get no credit. We know that communication of the research findings to the people is inevitable. However that communication should not be under pressure. In this article, we are proposing a hypothetical model, especially for medical teachers in India. We hope that this would reach the potential stakeholders for possible application.

The current system of research publication is depicted in [Figure 1]. In this flow, medical teachers prepare a proposal, get it passed from the institutional ethics committee, and conduct the research. Then, they prepare the result and manuscript, send it to journals, got it passed through editorial and peer review, and finally get it published. If it is not published, no credit is provided who had conducted the research. Perhaps, this model created the phrase – “publish or perish.”
Figure 1: Current system for getting credit of a research

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Among the other recommendations, San Francisco Declaration on Research Assessment suggests that the quality of the research should not be judged by the quality (e.g., indexing in a reputed bibliographic database, journal impact factor) of the journal where it is published. Furthermore, all the research work should be considered along with research publication for promotion. The emphasis should be on the scientific content, not the publication metrics.[2]

A new researcher may make mistakes while preparing their proposal, research report, and write the manuscript. In addition, intentional or unintentional plagiarism can bring disgrace to the institution. Hence, the whole research process till the submission of the final manuscript is monitored by several universities across the globe.[3] In Indian medical institutions, although the research proposal passes through a rigorous review by a scientific committee and ethical committee, the manuscript is rarely checked before publication, keeping trust in the authors. Research result manipulation is a dark side of science, and it is done to impress the journal editors and reviewers. To curb this practice, some journals started a type of research publication called “Registered report (RR).” In this type, the journals first evaluate the research proposal, suggest revision with the input of peer reviewers, and approve it. Then, the research is conducted with an assurance that the result, be it negative or positive, would be published. An analysis of RR in 2019 showed that 66% of the RRs in replicative studies disagree with the original hypothesis. Hence, this model may help in reducing publication bias.[4]

Several journals allow the posting of the article in preprint servers that is open to all. Anyone can browse the articles and comment on them; however, the decision on the article does not rely on the comments. The authors may consider using those comments during revision of the manuscript. Some journals (e.g., F1000Research [https://f1000research.com/]) fully rely on the reviewers' comments on the article posted in their journal website. In this model, the authors submit a paper to the journal and suggest peer reviewers. After getting the article processing charge, the journal initially checks and then posts the article in their website awaiting reviewers' comments. If the reviewers approve the article, then it is processed for final publication (i.e., indexing). If it is not approved, the article still remains published on the journal website.[5]

With this background, we propose a hypothetical model of research publication for Indian medical faculties. The model is depicted in [Figure 2]. The first four steps are similar to the previous model shown in [Figure 1]. However, after preparation of the result and manuscript, it is submitted to the institutional statistics expert for detection of any technical error in data analysis. Besides, the whole manuscript and image, if any, checked for plagiarism. After passing through these checks and necessary revision, the manuscript is submitted for institutional review (i.e., internal peer review).[6] After amendment, the final manuscript is uploaded in a central preprint repository (national level, controlled by a central commission; to create). This manuscript is kept online for external peer review. After the peer review and necessary revision, the amended manuscript is uploaded to the central repository. The manuscript is linked with the unique identifier of the medical teacher (e.g. National Medical Commission identifier for teaching faculty available at https://www.nmc.org.in/information-desk/teaching-faculty) for ease of identification. The authority, approving promotion, gets verified research output of the medical teacher from the central repository.
Figure 2: Proposed system for getting credit of a research

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Then, optionally, the authors may think of publishing the manuscript in any suitable journal. In this decentralized model, the major works are done at the institution level with a rigorous technical and scientific check at multiple stages. In this model, the researchers are not pressured to publish the manuscript in so called “top,” “average,” or “dubious” journal for credit. Perhaps, this research-centric approach for medical teachers would both promote the research work in the institution with scope for timely promotion without pressure for publication.

We agree that this model will not bring any revolution, but it can bring evolution.

Acknowledgment

The clipart used in figures is sourced from different websites that provide their content with “Creative Commons License.” We thank all the contributors who created the contents and provided those under the said license.

Financial support and sponsorship

Nil.

Conflicts of interest

Both the authors are medical teachers in Government Medical Colleges.



 
  References Top

1.
Banerjee A. Science in the time of corona: That uneasy feeling. Med J DY Patil Vidyapeeth 2021;14:115-6.  Back to cited text no. 1
  [Full text]  
2.
San Francisco Declaration on Research Assessment. Available from: https://sfdora.org/read/. [Last accessed on 2021 Apr 30].  Back to cited text no. 2
    
3.
Abbott A. The science institutions hiring integrity inspectors to vet their papers. Nature 2019;575:430-3.  Back to cited text no. 3
    
4.
Chambers C. What's next for registered reports? Nature 2019;573:187-9.  Back to cited text no. 4
    
5.
Kirkham J, Moher D. Who and why do researchers opt to publish in post-publication peer review platforms? – Findings from a review and survey of F1000 Research. F1000Res 2018;7:920.  Back to cited text no. 5
    
6.
Mondal S, Mondal H. Reduce burden of questionable publication from Indian authors: Young academicians' perspective. Muller J Med Sci Res 2018;9:120-1.  Back to cited text no. 6
  [Full text]  


    Figures

  [Figure 1], [Figure 2]



 

 
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