Bob told me the other day (the other week, actually, as I’m stacking up posts here with a roughly one-month delay) that I shouldn’t try to compete with the electrical engineers when it comes to length of C.V.: according to Bob, these dudes can have over two thousand publications!
How do they do it? First, an EE prof will have tons of graduate students and postdocs, they’re all writing papers and presenting at conferences, and they all stick his name on the author list. Second, these students and postdocs write up and publish every experiment they do. Including (especially!) computer experiments.
And . . . all these people writing paper cite each other, so they quickly rack up thousands of citations.
Upon hearing this, my first reaction to this was fear, plain and simple. One of the distinguishing characteristics of my own research record is that I have so many publications and citations. Those electrical engineers . . . how dare they go around devaluing my currency!
But then I started thinking some more, and I realized that the EE profs’ system is the logical endpoint of some things I’ve actually been trying to do. I advice lots of students and postdocs and would be happy to have more in my orbit. I encourage them to publish early and often and to take the initiative, to themselves write up what they’ve done. If this were all to happen, then, yes, there’d be zillions of publications running around.
But maybe that wouldn’t be a bad thing. I’ve done lots of small experiments and analyses that, if I’d written up and published, maybe would be useful to others. We’re doing a few of these right now. We’ll typically do lots of experiments in order to understand our methods, then we only publish a small part of this (all based on our guess of what the journal referees might want to see). Now that we can publish on the web, it’s probably a good idea to publish more. So maybe the EE profs have the right idea. We just have to ditch the idea of a linear “C.V.” that lists all of one’s publications. (Even now, such lists, if unstructured, can be difficult to navigate.)