The pressure to publish is transforming research tribes to article factories

The prime reason behind conducting research is to uncover facts, information that constitutes evidence, knowledge, productivity and wisdom. The second is to build research skills of professionals. There could be other reasons, But it is obvious that there is no other good reason for conducting research.

However, with the increasing pressure to publish among academic researchers, the focus of research has slowly shifted to identification of factors, determinants and differentials related to a problem or a construct. In this line, many research tribes produced several papers addressing factors associated with X, Y, Z etc. Note that almost all of the papers are about associations, and papers addressing causation are very rare.

Consideration of several factors affecting a single outcome led to the production of an overwhelming number of research papers. This has transformed some of the research units and research ‘tribes’ in to manuscript factories. These factories produce research articles, and I can call them ‘article factories.’ They try to related everything under the sky to a problem. Most of the associations tests are not planned before the data is collected. Many are contemplated at the analysis stage. That’s one of the reasons that datasets of large cohorts are not made public for a long time until all possible papers are produced and published.

In short, the transformation in some research ‘tribes’ and units is from facts to factors and then to factories. They have to undo this evolution to get back to where they were at the beginning. But how can they reverse this transformation?