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Critical Focus | Published or Be Damned


2023, Volume 70:2, p. 82 – 93, 2023


Brian J. Ford

Scientific publishing is a racket. Research for the author’s book Nonscience Returns reveals how academics battle to have more papers in print than their rivals, no matter what the cost.

Click. You’ve won a prize and it’s worth $11,690. For that money, two of you could fly from Washington to New York in a private jet, have a chauffeur-driven Rolls Royce take you for lunch at Masa, the most expensive restaurant in America, and fly home sipping vintage cognac. Something that endures? What about a Rolex Oyster — Winston Churchill and John F. Kennedy owned Rolexes, and so does Barack Obama. World-renowned rapper Jay-Z has several. Alternatively, what about a luxurious Cunard voyage? You could both cruise the Caribbean from New York in a Princess Grill suite aboard the world’s greatest liner, Queen Mary 2. Oh wait, you might have research to publish. This money would allow you to print 1,000 copies of a satisfyingly stout book (50 color pages, 200 more with text and diagrams), professionally bound in dark blue cloth-covered boards, like the textbooks you may remember from your student days. Or you could publish a single research paper in Nature.

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