Scientific Impact: Stressing Quality over Quantity

Posted on February 12th, 2015

The time during which scientists could spend years and years on a single study is long gone. As in many sectors, you need to show the results of your efforts in fast facts and hard numbers. It is often argued that in scientific inquiry, quantity is prevailing over quality these days. The amount and type of publications are used as measures of performance and quality of scientists. In the Dutch valuation system, an article publication in a native scientific journal is worth one point, in an international i.e. English scientific journal two points, a book is worth one point, etc. One needs to score at least a predetermined threshold amount of points each year. So the more you publish, the more points you get and the better you perform, according to this system.

Although it is clear that some kind of quality measurement system should be in place to legitimize the use of (public) funds, more and more opinions are voiced against the current system. In the end, science may benefit more from one really good publication instead of three weak ones, but there is currently only an incentive for the latter.

The call for quality above quantity has become stronger over the years. As a result, ESB – a Dutch economic journal – has changed its annual ranking system of Dutch scientists in the Economic discipline. Whereas scientists were first ranked according to their amount of output, they are now ranked according to the impact of their output. It means that only publications in a selected number of impactful international journals count: as a consequence, not all publications count (previously, a book chapter or native professional journal publication counted too, but it doesn’t anymore). Additionally, the counting of articles and thus the ranking of scientists is weighted according to the impact factor of the journals. As a consequence: the ranking value of international publications now varies across journals (previously, every international journal publication was worth two points).

As a result of the changed ranking policy of ESB, its 2014 ranking is now headed by a new number one: Prof. Dr. Daan van Knippenberg of RSM Erasmus University. In previous years – i.e. before the recent change – Daan had already positioned himself structurally among the top10 scientists. His recent election confirms that he not only publishes a lot, but what he publishes is relevant and has impact too.

Daan van Knippenberg is the Scientific Director of S-ray Diagnostics. Having Daan on our team underpins the relevance of the scientific knowledge that we bring to practice.

This post is written by Hester Mourik and Marco de Haas and is based on the ESB publication about its 2014 ranking. The full ranking can be reviewed on the ESB website.

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