As a graduate student and early in my career I was obsessed with the number of publications (A, please). But now I notice that numbers is much less important than quality or impact. Some people write few papers, but each one has big impact. That’s what you really need.

Everyone in my field agrees on the top 5% of papers, and probably the bottom 25%. But it’s anyone’s guess for the rest. So quality is a tricky and often an unmeasurable thing. You can always measure them on being well-written and with good analysis. But hearing the phrase ‘that’s a good problem’ about your paper is a good sign in my field.

I have heard many times: ‘X writes too many papers,’ usually said of someone with lots of publications in good journals, but no big impact ones. And everyone thinks that they know a good paper when they see one. Funny though that we can disagree about which ones are the good ones.

I’ll just keep plugging away.


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