Go check these fascinating blog posts (and particularly the comments section), for a great discussion on the subject, which got started by a post on Michael Eisen’s blog.
1) From ‘it is NOT junk’: The widely held notion that high-impact publications determine who gets academic jobs, grants and tenure is wrong. Stop using it as an excuse (which he now has updated, considering all the comments).
2) From Comradde PhysioProffe: Boycotting Paper Submissions To Glamour Journals.
3) Also, on that same blog, the day before, on a post entitled “Boycotting Paper Submissions To Non-Open-Access Journals“, Comradde PhysioProffe says:
And the way that we do this is not by telling one of these poor fuckes not to send their beautiful work to a particular prominent journal for political reasons. Rather, we fight tooth and nail on hiring, tenure/promotion, and grant review committees against the abdication of responsibility for judging the importance and interest of particular lines of research to non-scientist editors at legacy “high-impact” journals.
I also want to direct your attention to other quotes from the comments section, which I think either partly convey my opinion or that I simply want to share with you.
In any case, this is what I posted on twitter about it: “The important thing is that people who sit on committees & do the hiring and promotion realize that it’s not all about publishing in Glam J“. Note that I’m not against those journals, just against scientists who consider publishing in those journals (and NOT the candidate’s CV per se) a proxy for excellence and consider that if you don’t have those, then maybe you are not the best candidate for hiring/promotion, or worse, if you have them, even if they don’t even read them, you become to them a serious candidate and disregard others.
Let’s go with the comments. Again I’m not saying I agree with all of them, I just found them noteworthy.
The fact is it does make a difference because too many colleagues are convinced that SNC papers are a proxy for high quality. The argument that some get hired without such papers doesn’t mean that SNC papers do not increase the chances of early stage scientists to get their dream job.
But not everyone is privileged like that, and cannot be expected to do the same. I was a post-doc in the just-started lab of an assistant professor with no real reputation and definitively not plugged into the Hughes network. If I didn’t publish the most important part of my post-doctoral work in Nature, I wouldn’t have ever got job interviews at the kind of institution where I am now employed.
Of all graduate students, probably about 10% end up getting a job in academia, if that many. Out of those, there have been rumors that there have been candidates who worked 9-5 and never published in CNS and also got a job. This may be the case, but are you going to bet your rent, food and clothing on that you are going to be one of those fortunate few?
While participating on faculty candidate searches (both as a graduate student representative at one institution, and as faculty at my current institution), I have not only seen the Science/Nature/Cell (and PLoS Biology) effect, but also the “lab of origin” and “institution of origin” effect. That is, the lab (and institution) where you did your PhD and Post-Doctoral work had a substantial effect on how some members of the committee perceived the candidate. While the quality and “substantive” nature of their scientific work was also important, both the journals they published in and where they did the work seemed to (at least sometimes) override other considerations.
Dude, no one is trying to shoot the messenger. As I have already said, it’s great for people with sufficient institutional and reputational status to tell the glamour mags to fucke offe. But it is wrong to vilify those in weaker positions to go along to get along