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Journal Impact Factor Shapes Scientists’ Reward Signal in the Prospect of Publication

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  • Frieder Michel Paulus
  • Lena Rademacher
  • Theo Alexander Jose Schäfer
  • Laura Müller-Pinzler
  • Sören Krach

Abstract

The incentive structure of a scientist’s life is increasingly mimicking economic principles. While intensely criticized, the journal impact factor (JIF) has taken a role as the new currency for scientists. Successful goal-directed behavior in academia thus requires knowledge about the JIF. Using functional neuroimaging we examined how the JIF, as a powerful incentive in academia, has shaped the behavior of scientists and the reward signal in the striatum. We demonstrate that the reward signal in the nucleus accumbens increases with higher JIF during the anticipation of a publication and found a positive correlation with the personal publication record (pJIF) supporting the notion that scientists have incorporated the predominant reward principle of the scientific community in their reward system. The implications of this behavioral adaptation within the ecological niche of the scientist’s habitat remain unknown, but may also have effects which were not intended by the community.

Suggested Citation

  • Frieder Michel Paulus & Lena Rademacher & Theo Alexander Jose Schäfer & Laura Müller-Pinzler & Sören Krach, 2015. "Journal Impact Factor Shapes Scientists’ Reward Signal in the Prospect of Publication," PLOS ONE, Public Library of Science, vol. 10(11), pages 1-15, November.
  • Handle: RePEc:plo:pone00:0142537
    DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0142537
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Yu-Wei Chang, 2019. "Are articles in library and information science (LIS) journals primarily contributed to by LIS authors?," Scientometrics, Springer;Akadémiai Kiadó, vol. 121(1), pages 81-104, October.
    2. Osterloh, Margit & Frey, Bruno S., 2020. "How to avoid borrowed plumes in academia," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 49(1).

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