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Punished by metrics

perceived and unnoticed consequences in scientific research

Comprar por 1.000 pontos no plano fidelidade

about the work

“Another observation made by Taylor was that

productivity is also related to

the maximum income of the worker.



I can't pinpoint exactly when the metrics we see today started, but I remember readings around Taylor (Taylorism), in my production engineering course. I remember doing works where everything was measured, I remember that the basis of Taylorism was time. 

Most people, even unconsciously, are intimidated by someone who posts a lot: they often don't even consider topics, areas and context. The number itself is often frightening. If I told you that Brazil takes an annual loss of 10 million reais, the word loss will remain, without even putting this number into perspective:Alison Ledgerwood highlights our difficulty dealing with negative results. I turned down a postdoc myself, looking back now, because the researcher hadn't published in years. That is, whether we realize it or not, it enters our unconscious. See the session of this work“Publish or Perish in the Life of the Young Researcher”.

Some seem to argue that mass publishing (Publish or Perish), the most productive academic, is a contamination of the academic milieu of this way of thinking, apparently initiated in the United States. In this logic, everything can be boiled down to quantity, the more the better.

Every metric, at least the ones we know today, simplifies reality: and the price you pay is the simplification of intelligence, the flattening of creativity, the diminution of human intellect. Leaving out great complexity: some more, some less, but every metric seeks to simplify what is complicated.

Generally, this is done to make decisions: in the academic world, who will get the funding for your research, and even more so, who will get all the funding, in some cases. So much faith is put in the metric that they make the biggest mistake amateur investors make: putting all their eggs in one basket. Any minimally educated investor knows that we must diversify. Says one of the greatest presidents of the United States "An Investment in knowledge pays the best dividends'' Benjamin Franklin.

Why our obsession with metrics? Why are we increasingly stuck with metrics, creating social and self-defeating traps for everyone? How did we get to one of the biggest accumulations of capital in single hands in history without being able to do anything? Why do metrics justify meritocracy wrong? Why do we want to financially recognize many professionals such as researchers and professors, but fail miserably in practice? Why do we insist on feeding a machine that does not produce real wealth, only monetary gimmicks? Why do we exploit some on behalf of others, justifying it with weak metrics? Worst of all: why do we exploit the weakest and youngest in the name of these crooked metrics?

Unfortunately, these are questions I would like to have the answers to myself. However, I will present you with some insights. As I saw Daniel Markovits say inThe Meritocracy Trap: One of the biggest problems with criticizing meritocracy is the lack of an alternative way. I've always criticized proofs saying "evidence doesn't prove anything", and it really doesn't. But what would be the alternative?

I believe we should at least try, but we prefer to maintain the status quo, even when anyone with the slightest bit of sense realizes the problem and the precipice we are heading towards.

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