I hate the 'publish or perish' mantra of academia. I really do. To me, it takes the focus away from doing great work and waiting until it's truly ready for public consumption and instead stresses us out as we try to ensure our publication record is up to snuff.
I particularly dislike the mantra these days because it's so easy to document what we're up to online. If committees for scholarships, tenure, etc want to see whether we are doing good research, they could in theory find out in other ways, for example from our discussions, blogs, websites, and more online (assuming of course that we researchers got better at taking advantage of such media). The full process, including the failures, could be captured. Granted, it's not as official as a peer reviewed paper and false information could be spread, but in some ways it's a more full and genuine glimpse into someone's research ability, while the published papers come to represent the most polished work possible. Perhaps if we wanted this to become a standard, we could find ways to ensure the information available outside of published work is useful and trustworthy.
I certainly hear of many others who dislike the current way of things as well. But, as they point out, it's the way you have to play the game in academia. True, but is generating knowledge for the purpose of playing the game really going to result in the best outcome? And is the length of someone's publication list really a good indication of the value they are bringing to the world?
I'd love to see a fundamental shift in our thinking when it comes to publishing. I do believe that the process of peer review and the ability to share the outcome of our research is important, but I wish the emphasis was more on high quality results than the insatiable need to just get something out there.
Do you feel the same way? How would you change the system if you could change anything?