Academic publications as spam

From an article by Luis von Ahn on academic publications:

… there is an insane number of papers written every year, the vast majority of which contribute very little (or not at all) to our collective knowledge. This is basically spam. In fact, for many papers (including some of my own), the actual idea of the paper could be stated in one paragraph, but somehow people manage to write 10 pages of it.

3 thoughts on “Academic publications as spam

  1. Isn’t this why they started the citation index?

    The idea is to judge productivity (especially with regard to tenure decisions) by how many papers cite one’s work, rather than how many papers one produces. Or you could think of it as a weighted measure, where the number of papers is weighted by the number of citations of that paper appear in published papers.

    If I recall correctly, something similar was why Google originally led the pack as a search engine in the dark ages — their idea was to rank results (at least in part) by how many other websites link to the result.

    Anyway, apropos of academic publications and spam, no discussion would be complete without a reference to SCIgen.

  2. It’s all related to the pressure to publish, of course. If we didn’t measure our worth by the length of our publication lists, we could concentrate on only accepting (and then only writing) papers that were worth reading.

    The same is true, and for the same reason, of patents. I figure at least 95% of the software patents out there are garbage, failing to meet at least one, and often two or all three, of the criteria: useful, novel, non-obvious.

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