Number of Publications

The number of publications is an important parameter for the evaluation of scientific impact; however, it can be a misleading factor as well. While it is imperative to have as high as a possible number of publications, it is also important to understand that not all types of scientific publications have the same scientific strength. Let us first discuss what is scientific publication and what are the main types of scientific publications that exist.

Main types of scientific publications:

What is scientific publication?

Scientific publication is a disseminated research published in some form and made available to the scientific community. The scientific publication has significance if it is peer-reviewed, i.e. if other experts from the field have checked the work (in whatever form it is) and approved it for publication.

Many authors agree that peer review is a fundamental criterion for publication to be considered scientific. Of course, there is a question of the quality of peer-review. Some conferences or journals have higher, some have a lower quality of peer review. After all, the quality of peer review is one of the crucial parameters that make difference among journals and publishers. Among all, papers published in internationally recognized, peer-reviewed scientific journals with values of impact factor are the most important scientific publications.

If for some reason you have to classify scientists according to the number of scientific publications, for example, if you need to select a new member of your institute, then you could be in a problem. The total number of scientific publications tells little about the scientific strength of disseminated results. For example, one scientist could have 20 scientific publications, among which 15 publications could be abstracts in conference proceedings and the remaining 5 could be papers published in a highly ranked journal with impact factors. Other scientist could have 20 publications, but all of them being published in highly ranked journals with impact factors. Which scientist has a more important scientific impact? You might think that the later one is more important, but still, it doesn’t have to be that way. What if one paper of the firstly mentioned scientist had a tremendous scientific impact and helped in curing, for example, some disease? Obviously, relying only on the number of scientific publications is a slippery road and you should use other parameters in deciding which candidate is having a higher scientific impact.

The same challenges apply if you want to compare the scientific contribution of institutions. For example, two institutions could have a similar number of scientific publications, but one of those institutions could be having a much higher number of papers published in journals with impact factors than the other institution. Therefore, as it was mentioned at the beginning of this page, the number of scientific publications can be a misleading factor.