Thursday, March 29, 2012

Publish or Perish

Google scholar citations which was launched recently is a great tool to track one's technical publications and their citations. I also built my Google scholar citations page and became follower of some of the leading researchers in my research area - Computer Vision. As almost every journal or conference proceedings has been indexed in Google scholar, deliberately not citing key papers can be considered a major violation of academic integrity.

Every researcher truly benefits from such an effort by Google scholar as he/she gains the right to access almost all journals and conference proceedings as soon as they are published online. An unfortunate thing to note is that researchers deliberately avoid citing key papers which have already been published in order to avoid the loss in contribution of their paper. In recent times, I am getting repeatedly put off reading such papers in my research area.

For example, today I saw a paper by few Chinese researchers on HDR imaging (see here) published recently in an Elsevier journal. This paper cites one of my older papers (Eurographics 2009, see here) and even compares their results with this work of mine. However, these guys deliberately avoid citing or comparing their results with my later improved work in SIGGRAPH Asia 2009 (see here). The reason is that my later paper is so similar to (might have even inspired) their paper. It would have been tough for them to sneak their paper into any decent journal or conference if they had cited my SIGGRAPH Asia work.

I am terribly sad with such unethical behavior of researchers who just want to increase their paper count without much technical contribution. I feel it is almost impossible for them not to have looked at my later works as all the works till date are listed clearly in my personal webpage. The only consolation in this case is that these guys at least had the courtesy to cite and compare with my earlier work. I have had much worse experience with some other researchers in the past who had ignored citing all of relevant papers.

I do not foresee any improvement in the lack of ethics among the researchers in citing relevant works. This is mainly because of the general lack of academic integrity among the research community. Most researchers are constantly driven by the motto of "Publish or Perish". I would strongly recommend every researcher to read a popular article by Nobel Laureate Richard Feynman known as Cargo Cult Science before taking up research as a career.