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BMJ Open. 2016 Feb 17;6(2):e008681. doi: 10.1136/bmjopen-2015-008681.

How do scientists perceive the current publication culture? A qualitative focus group interview study among Dutch biomedical researchers.

Author information

1
Department of Internal Medicine, VU University Medical Center, Amsterdam, The Netherlands Department of Psychiatry, Tergooi Hospital, Hilversum, The Netherlands.
2
Department of Medical Humanities, VU University Medical Center, EMGO+ Institute, Amsterdam, The Netherlands.
3
Department of Epidemiology & Biostatistics, VU University Medical Center, Amsterdam, The Netherlands Faculty of Humanities, Department of Philosophy, Vrije Universiteit, Amsterdam, The Netherlands.
4
Rathenau Institute, The Hague, The Netherlands.
5
Department of Internal Medicine, VU University Medical Center, Amsterdam, The Netherlands.

Abstract

OBJECTIVE:

To investigate the biomedical scientist's perception of the prevailing publication culture.

DESIGN:

Qualitative focus group interview study.

SETTING:

Four university medical centres in the Netherlands.

PARTICIPANTS:

Three randomly selected groups of biomedical scientists (PhD, postdoctoral staff members and full professors).

MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES:

Main themes for discussion were selected by participants.

RESULTS:

Frequently perceived detrimental effects of contemporary publication culture were the strong focus on citation measures (like the Journal Impact Factor and the H-index), gift and ghost authorships and the order of authors, the peer review process, competition, the funding system and publication bias. These themes were generally associated with detrimental and undesirable effects on publication practices and on the validity of reported results. Furthermore, senior scientists tended to display a more cynical perception of the publication culture than their junior colleagues. However, even among the PhD students and the postdoctoral fellows, the sentiment was quite negative. Positive perceptions of specific features of contemporary scientific and publication culture were rare.

CONCLUSIONS:

Our findings suggest that the current publication culture leads to negative sentiments, counterproductive stress levels and, most importantly, to questionable research practices among junior and senior biomedical scientists.

KEYWORDS:

EDUCATION & TRAINING (see Medical Education & Training); MEDICAL ETHICS; QUALITATIVE RESEARCH

PMID:
26888726
PMCID:
PMC4762115
DOI:
10.1136/bmjopen-2015-008681
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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