Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Young Astronomer Lunch Debate

I just attended this lunch debate for young astronomers. Apart from the free food (some organisation from the USA paid), we were split up to many tables with different topics and had a nice discussion with senior astronomers. At my table it was 9 PhD studends and two seniors.

The topic was how to handle the large amount of papers that is published and if one should comply with the "publish or perish" attitude. We looked at statistics of refereed papers and there was a threefold increase in the last 30 years.

Obviously, we did not find a good solution for keeping up, because if there would be one, someone probably would have thought of it. We heard anecdotes from lost important papers that were rediscovered much later and thought that in the age of ADS and similar databases, things have become much easier.

One suggestion to get the number of papers down and at the same time make papers available for free and thereby disburden libraries all over the world was to put all the costs into the page charge of journals. These would be much higher then and could be scaled by the per capita income of the publishing country, in order to not disadvantage poorer ones.

I myself have been looking for a small tool to create an own index of the papers I have read. It must be able to handle "tags" to find a paper via several catch words. It should also to get the BibTex entry from ADS and at the same time know about the corresponding astro-ph page. Is there such a thing, or must I write it myself? Can't be too difficult...

There is a free afternoon now, and I will stroll through the poster area and have a look at some of them. In late afternoon, there will be a cocktail reception.


At 11:13 PM, Anonymous Am. Hel. said...

I am curious, what is the paper publication rate these days (per year), roughly?

Also, what is it like being there, cocktails and all?

At 11:42 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

About 47 yr ago, a world famous college discovered that the number of papers published was proportional to the number of secretaries and inversely proportional to the number of profs writing papers. The obvious extrapolation was that if one hired only secretaries and no profs the school would produce an infinite number of papers . . .


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