What’s more important, producing many low quality publications, or only a few high quality ones? I’m sure most people would agree that it’s the latter, and yet I’m expected to put out 3 publications in every 2 year cycle.
That doesn’t give me much time to plan a very rigorous study (or studies), implement it, evaluate it, write it up, get it reviewed and finally, to get it published. If I want to collaborate with anyone, its even harder. Earlier this week I read this post by @thesiswhisperer in which she mentions how the “…urge to write is driven by an interest in career maintenance – pure and simple”. That’s kind of how it feels for me right now. I know that if I want to progress, I need to produce.
On the other hand, I think that as a novice author / researcher / academic, I should be spending more time learning how to do good research, and be under less pressure to produce. Increasing the number of publications required to establish oneself in the field is a trend that sends a message to young academics that being prolific is more important than being prodigious (Mehlenbacher, 2010).
My question is this: do I strategically plan my academic career based on how many articles I can get out the door, or do I focus on producing fewer papers which add something meaningful to the field? I know what the answer should be, but it just doesn’t seem practical right now. There’s always going to be the tension between “quality vs. quantity” (links to PDF, via Thesis Whisperer), but at the moment it feels like it has to be an either /or proposition.
Note: the title of this post was taken and modified from the PDF presentation by Dr. Ted Brown that I link to above.