I wonder that question again and again, and to be honest, I don’t have any suitable answer yet. It’s been a long time since I decided to make a Ph.D. and to begin to publish scientific papers. I don’t know if it’s worth it.
I work in a University Hospital, but I’m not a researcher or a scientist by profession. I get paid for doing my job. Being a scientific author is part of my spare time, regardless it is related to my job.
A University Hospital generates innovation and knowledge. Workers in such institutions have three main roles: caring patients, teaching and research.
It’s the librarian who encourages me constantly to catch up with my duties of publishing, but sometimes I cannot see the point of why I should invest as much effort in publishing, rather than procrastinating. She recently published a paper in a scientific journal about the role of health librarians in the training of scientific authors.
It’s a very good article, but I would like to add a few thoughts to those, because, as I mentioned above, I cant’ help wondering if such efforts are worth it.
Why should I publish?
The first aim of the scientific publication is to build and share knowledge. Above this romantic, idealistic thinking, it must be clear to us our true motivations to publish, because, over it, we have personal motivations. It’s beneficial to us.
In today’s world, the author is just as valid as the amount and the quality of his/her publications. Such an approach is extremely simplistic, but cruel reality sets in.
As mentioned above, I myself come from the world of health sciences, where publishing is not compulsory at all. It’s compulsory to get the job done. Thanks to prevailing competitiveness at all levels, we are all sorted according to our value in order to promote or to be included in a research project.
Let’s be realistic; we publish to improve our curriculum vitae, not to make the world a little better.
An author invests a huge effort to develop a research project, which will eventually provide a much deeper knowledge on a certain subject. If the author pretends to achieve any profit from that effort, the only way is to publish that research in a scientific journal, in which a peer review can add an extra value to the research project. Posters and meetings are good choices, but they lack the high value of a scientific journal.
The university hospital where I work gives the opportunity to create knowledge that may be used in caring for patients, and eventually, to improve healthcare.
So, the main advantage of working in a hospital is the ongoing feedback. When caring for patients, we must make sure to take the best decision possible, and we have to be able to impart knowledge to others. It’s some kind of vicious circle (it would be better to say virtuous circle).
Whether we want it or not, we are within this circle (caring, teaching, learning), and all we can do is to take advantage of the hospital: learning, applying scientific knowledge and developing new skills.
So, we must take advantage of our knowledge and our efforts, and we must share information. It is one way to say: my work is valuable.
Who should publish?
We all must publish because by doing so, we are learning. We all have the need of communicating, sharing knowledge and making it useful. It benefits everybody, it improves our curriculum vitae and it adds value to our work.
Regarding my last post, a word must be said about the role of librarians in publishing, for they yield continuous, neutral feedback about relevant, quality, clinical information. They provide recommendations, give advice and suggest useful tools.
As far as I’m concerned, I’ve been working with my librarian for 10 years, and I never stopped learning. Certainly, my librarian has been the most significant influence on my professional growth, for a documentalist knows the needs, the features and the basis of a developing scientific author.
This is an underestimated contribution, for a documentalist also designs search strategies, manages resources and recommends other means of publication. They should be widely acknowledged.
I strongly recommend The health sciences librarian as scientific entertainer. Thanks for your attention, I’m willing to answer any questions you might have.