Working hypotheses

4. Thesis: Precarious working conditions are reinforced by problematic evaluation structures and false incentives in the system.


A career in academic research is a constant comparison of forces, fueled by the Wissenschaftszeitvertragsgesetz. If the decisive criterion for new hires is the number of publications, this tempts people to work hastily or carelessly – a phenomenon that is frequently observed. After all, “If you want to be successful in science, you have to publish a lot. The result [can be] half-baked results, unrepeatable experiments, pseudo-journals.” This problem in the scientific career process is described as publication pressure. The short form “publish or perish” sums up the extent of the problem. Those who do not publish do not participate in the race for permanent positions and thus become invisible to the system. Assessment structures emphasize quantity over quality, so that the trustworthiness of research results is compromised. This type of evaluation diminishes the scientific and social added value of the work done. An additional consequence is the flood of literature: It becomes more difficult to sift through publications and to classify them in the current state of knowledge.

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