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Publish or perish: Origin and perceived benefits

Perceived Benefits versus Unintended Consequences

Imad A. Moosa

‘Publish or perish’ (POP) is a phrase that describes the pressure put on academics to publish in scholarly journals rapidly and continually as a condition for employment (finding a job), promotion, and even maintaining one’s job. POP may be advocated on the grounds that a good track record in publications draws attention to the authors and their institutions, which can facilitate continued funding and the progress of the authors themselves. However, the POP culture also brings with it unintended adverse consequences that outweigh any perceived benefits. There is no consensus view on who actually coined the term ‘publish or perish’. The rise of the POP culture can be attributed primarily to the attitude of governments that look at higher education as a cost, not an investment, or those believing that it is not their job to fund education.