Academia takes a very narrow view of what constitutes “output”. Rewards (such as funding or tenure) are given out on the basis of (1) publications, preferably first-author, preferably in so-called high-impact journals; (2) citations, in the same journals and (3) previous rewards – “demonstrated ability in securing funding”. I always find that last catch-22 clause particularly amusing.
I started to think about this when I read What is principal component analysis? [DOI 10.1038/nbt0308-303], in the current issue of Nature Biotechnology (subscription only). Now, I’m not criticising the article or its publication: it’s well-written, educational and a good basic overview of PCA for biologists who have not previously encountered the method. However, my first reaction was to recall a number of excellent blog posts on the same topic that I’ve read recently. For example:
- Deriving biological meaning from principal components analysis – by Mike
- PCA at Open Mind part 1, part 2, part 3, part 4
The Nature Biotechnology article is recognised by academia and qualifies for academic rewards. The blog posts – which are longer, more detailed, written by enthusiastic communicators and in theory, accessible to a much wider audience (as opposed to people with a subscription to Nature Biotechnology) – are not.
It doesn’t seem right to me. How does your institution evaluate and reward “non-traditional” output?