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Big names or big ideas: Do peer-review panels select the best science proposals?

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Science  24 Apr 2015:
Vol. 348, Issue 6233, pp. 434-438
DOI: 10.1126/science.aaa0185

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  • A RELATED PROBLEM: PRODUCTION VERSUS PRODUCTIVITY
    • PEDRO MARTINEZ, ICREA Research Professor, Departament de Genetica; Universitat de Barcelona (SPAIN)

    It has become a sign of our times (maybe a negative sign) that science is taken, and
    measured, as another economic enterprise. The work undertaken in our
    laboratories needs to go through a process of evaluation that measures us
    (researchers) and what we do (publications, patents, theses, etc.) in quantitative
    terms. While I do not deny that laboratories and research teams need to be
    accountable to our funding agencies, here I would like to dispute the notion that
    output should be measured as “gross production”. “Production”, whatever different
    metrics we use to gauge it (most are highly unsatisfactory; particularly the
    "overrated" Impact Factor), does not reflect the efficiency of our research teams.
    Economists use a far more useful measure of what is being produced:
    “productivity”, which is the ratio of “gross production”/“money invested” or, if you
    prefer, the ratio of output to input.
    In order to better (more fairly) evaluate the efficiency of our teams, I think that
    funding agencies should start relying in the value of our productivity instead of our
    gross production. Implementation of such an approach would, for instance, treat
    smaller groups in a far more balanced way than how they are currently treated.

    Competing Interests: None declared.

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