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So you want to be a Super Researcher?

Do you know the publication culture of the research group that you are joining? 

For prospective PhD students and early career researchers, joining a new research group is an extremely exciting time. Many factors affect which research group to join including geographical location, host institution, research area, group leader etc. One area that is not often considered is the publication culture of a research group.

What is publication culture and why is it important?

Publications are the ‘hard currency’ of academia which can affect scientific credibility, employments, appraisals and grant applications. Publication culture is a broad term that takes into account the number of publications, the impact of the publications and the general productivity of a research group and network. As the responsibility of writing up articles often fall onto the shoulder of postdoctoral fellows and PhD students, they must be aware of the publication culture of their prospective group as it will significantly influence their work (and related stress), at least in the next few years.

The majority of researchers will welcome the opportunity to publish. However, the pressure to publish may lead to ‘excessive publishing’ and undue pressure on postdoctoral fellows and PhD students. Many anecdotal incidences have highlighted that balancing the pressure to publish numerous papers every year whilst conducting high-quality research is an overwhelming experience. Therefore, we advocate that the publication culture of a prospective research group should be part of the consideration when looking for future fellowships.

The ‘Super Researcher’ app

The ‘Super Researcher’ app is designed to help researchers make an informed decision about the publication culture of a research group. Using text-mining methods and publication data from Scopus, the ‘Super Researcher’ app enables easy browsing of an institute and an individual’s publication culture. The ‘Super Researcher’ app concisely summarises the number of publications and the number of ‘Super Researchers’ affiliated with an institute. It also lists all publications of an author, as a first, middle or last author, and the total and average citation per publication per year. Besides, the app provides information on an author’s network of co-authors, giving a broader view of the publication culture in his or her research group. Importantly, the app also delivers a breakdown of scientific journals that said author publishes in. 

Who is a ‘Super Researcher’?

The app uses the number of first-author publication(s) per year to define a ‘Super Researcher’. The first author is normally the person who contributed most to the published work, including writing up the article. Therefore, to inform publication culture and estimate time spent on publication-related work, using the number of the first authorship is the closest approximation. However, how many first-author publications qualify as a researcher to be a ‘Super Researcher’? This is the best part of the app – the user gets to decide the publication threshold to be considered a ‘Super Researcher’. We believe that individual researcher has different aspiration and expectation of their new position and should be empowered to decide for themselves how much workload is acceptable. 

Where can I find more information about the ‘Super Researcher’ app?

For more information regarding the app including the methodology, limitations and case study, please read the full publication: 

https://www.biorxiv.org/content/10.1101/2021.02.18.431804v1

How can I contact the team behind ‘Super Researcher’ app?

Please email us at:

superresearcher1991@gmail.com