Speedy Publication is Hurting Science Quality

by Alla Ditta Raza Choudary
Blog_Choudary_ImageSpeedy publication of relatively trivial, and often scarcely refereed research articles in mathematics (and probably in most other academic disciplines), in journals with so-called high-impact factor, has set a rather dangerous trend of research in most of the world’s developing nations.

These journals usually publish quite superficial research, sometimes for a not negligible article processing fee, the page-charge. They even ask the authors, directly or indirectly, to include extended bibliographies in their papers, obviously meant to boost the impact factor of the journal. This is a trend that may, in the long run, be a threat to the global research community, substituting “good research” with “popular research”. However this is not, at present, the most dangerous part of the system. The real threat is something more fundamental,associated with these kind of research publications.

Governments in numerous developing countries are now trying to encourage research in mathematics and other scientific disciplines. For this purpose, these governments give awards, prizes and various financial incentives to their researchers. But not knowing how to evaluate the quality of research, the government bodies in these developing countries have found a very easy way out. They just add up the impact factors of the publications of the researchers applying for some national award or prize. The persons with the highest sums of impact factors are declared to be the winners. This process provides strong encouragement for publishing a large number of trivial papers (there are examples of young researchers publishing 30 to 50 papers a year) in journals with positive impact factors. During the past decades the research performance in such countries has taken a very different meaning, a meaning that honors triviality, mediocrity and non-creativity.

Why Have a Workshop for Women in Physics?

By Shobhana Narasimhan

Womenphysics1“But what do you do in a workshop like this?”
“Tell me, do you really think that there is a need for a workshop like this?”
“I completely disapprove of activities that are segregated by gender.”
“I think it is wrong for ICTP to be involved in such workshops. ICTP is for scientific activities.”
“I am very curious to know what you women discuss…tell me, you sit there and criticize men, huh?”

These are some of the more puzzled or hostile reactions I have received (mostly from men in physics) about the two “Career Development Workshops for Women in Physics” that I have helped organize at ICTP, together with Liz Simmons and Erika Coppola.

Sometimes, I feel that the fact that I am interested in organizing activities for women in physics is like having a fondness for romance novels by Georgette Heyer, or actually liking Pizza Hut pizza …it is to be kept a dark secret, suggesting I am not to be taken entirely seriously as a physicist, and may even be…ai ai ai…a FEMINIST!

Welcome to Multiverse!

by Kelsey Calhoun

ictpflowersWelcome to the ICTP Multiverse! This blog is a home for all sorts of stories from the global community of physicists and mathematicians connected to the Abdus Salam International Centre for Theoretical Physics. ICTP has a dual mission: to promote research excellence, and to support the development of sustainable science in developing countries around the world, spreading opportunity and resources where they are needed.

Over more than fifty years, thousands of scientists have studied at, worked at, visited, collaborated with, or been supported by ICTP. Each of those scientists has many stories–about their science, cultures, challenges, and lives, stories that sometimes go untold because they don’t necessarily qualify as “news.”

Multiverse is a new home for those stories, to make sure they get told. Research doesn’t happen in a vacuum: scientists are human too, and humans are a storytelling species. This blog will provide a backstage look, a glimpse into the process and lives of scientists and the science they publish.

Most of the posts will be written by scientists or students from the ICTP community, so the stories will be in their own words. We hope these words will inspire you to learn more about physics and mathematics, to share your enthusiasm about science, to study physics and math, or to support physicists and mathematicians in your community. If a post sparks a thought, please leave a comment below the blog posts. We’d like to hear from you.

“Science is the common heritage of mankind,” said Abdus Salam, ICTP’s founder. We hope you enjoy the stories of this heritage, from a community using a global approach to tackle pressing problems of our time.

Kelsey Calhoun is a science writer in the Public Information Office at ICTP.