There is an argument in my institute that ISI journal publication incentive (in ISI journals only) should be omitted. However, the opposition, including me, believe that such monetary incentive would motivate young researchers who are low paid researchers to publish their work in ISI journals. I checked some of the international universities and found similar discussions tend to agree that incentive is necessary for young publishers and researchers.

What is the status in your institutes and to what extent do you think payment for ISI journal publication encourages researchers to work more seriously?

NOTEs: 1- Please consider that the focus is on legitimate peer reviewed ISI journal publication ONLY, not any other publications such as conference or predatory open access journals.

2- FYI, in Computer Science, publishing in a legitimate peer reviewed ISI journal takes from 6 months to 2 years. If a novice researcher can publish in 6 months, he/she is considered very lucky and brilliant.

  • 1
    Do you mean personal money or research money? At our institute, there is significant money for each publication, but it's all research money and tied to the group as a whole (although PhD students some rights to claim part of it for work-related expenses).
    – gerrit
    Commented Jul 3, 2013 at 10:18
  • without research money work is hard. No money, no research :) I mean personal money that encourages researchers to rigorously publish.
    – Espanta
    Commented Jul 3, 2013 at 11:19
  • 2
    It seems like you are mixing apples and oranges here. Incentivizing authors with potential payouts won't shorten the time it takes to publish (it might actually have the opposite effect, if publications get swamped with marginal work in hopes of cash payouts). Moreover, many research efforts take years of work before they have matured enough to submit for publication. If young researchers aren't motivated by the opportunity to (a) get all that hard work prominently recognized, and (b) put their "name on the map," so to speak, I wonder how much a few hundred bucks would add to the motivation.
    – J.R.
    Commented Jul 3, 2013 at 14:12
  • What are "ISI journals", "legitimate ISI journal publications", and "legitimate peer reviewed ISI journals"? Commented Jul 3, 2013 at 19:45
  • 1
    @coderinnetwork thanks for your hard work to connect me to a country without having enough clue on what you are talking about! Probably Iran is the only country you know in the world. Better to study more and think twice before labeling a country as this or that. Please go and read about research funds in Malaysia, Singapore, Korea, Pakistan, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and many other countries who hire researchers for ISI papers to elevate in World rankings for attracting intl students.
    – Espanta
    Commented Jun 8, 2017 at 3:32

2 Answers 2


What is the status in your institutes and to what extent do you think payment for publication encourage researchers to work more seriously?

I've never worked in an environment with payment for publication, so my impressions are based on observing it from the outside. I'm sure it encourages publishing more papers, but publishing more papers is different from working more seriously:

  1. Publication payments encourage mediocre submissions, since success is defined by having a paper in a certain type of journal, regardless of how good or bad the paper is. In many cases the optimal strategy is not to work hard on writing a few excellent papers, but rather to write as many mediocre papers as possible and then submit them repeatedly in a search for lenient editors and reviewers.

  2. In addition to the quality issue, payments per paper create an incentive to break work up into least publishable units.

  3. Publication payments complicate coauthorship decisions, based on how the money is awarded. If every coauthor receives a fixed amount, then it creates a financial incentive to add honorary authors. On the other hand, if a fixed amount of money is divided among all the authors, then it creates an incentive to remove less important but legitimate authors. (And if it's just the "first author," then that magnifies the importance of who that author is.) Either way, authorship is being decided based partly on financial pressure, rather than intellectual contributions.

Of course, all these issues are already serious problems in academia, with or without publication payments, but adding direct financial incentives just makes them worse. In addition, using a fixed formula heightens the tension by removing ambiguity. With hiring, one might worry that hiring committees will count papers instead of judging their quality, but at least some of them will prefer two great papers to five mediocre ones. By contrast, the incentives with publication payments are unambiguous, which strengthens their effects.

  • I guess (not sure) world university ranking agencies need publication multiplicity when ranking universities and this is what growing universities need. Am I right or wrong?
    – Espanta
    Commented Jul 3, 2013 at 13:56
  • 3
    Your points 1--3 are a perfect example of Goodhart's law: "When a measure becomes a target, it ceases to be a good measure." Commented Jul 3, 2013 at 20:53
  • this is what growing universities need — [citation needed]
    – JeffE
    Commented Jul 4, 2013 at 7:33
  • "I guess" indicates that there is no citations and is personal guess only.
    – Espanta
    Commented Jul 4, 2013 at 13:21

There is one incentive: publish or perish.

Without publishing, young researchers will have a limited chance of a good career in academia. Without good publications, obtaining grant money will be difficult. Without grant money, you will be given more teaching duties and less chance to research. Without publications, you will not be granted tenure. You may end up with a teaching position, which is fine if that's what you want, but the chances of doing research will diminish.

Telling a long term story is perhaps a good way of motivating students.

We certainly don't pay them to publish, though they do get the opportunity to go to conferences to present their work, but only if they have work to present.

  • 1
    Your point about grant money is interesting. One could argue that, if the research was funded with grant money, you've already been paid to do the research, so why should you get paid again to publish the results? That would be like double-dipping.
    – J.R.
    Commented Jul 3, 2013 at 9:11
  • 3
    @J.R. Possibly, except one never actually sees any of the grant money as cash-in-hand. Commented Jul 3, 2013 at 9:25
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    @J.R. Many young researchers, especially students are low paid researchers who have no interest to publish, but to finish their study and get the degree. Especially for those students who are under pressure of publishing paper in ISI journals (not all ISI journals, valid and high quality journals, no predatory journal) incentive can be a hoping point.
    – Espanta
    Commented Jul 3, 2013 at 11:00
  • 3
    @Espanta: I guess you are not talking about PhD students. PhD students who have no interest in publishing are in the wrong business. Commented Jul 3, 2013 at 11:04
  • 2
    @Espanta: A PhD is about research. I really question the value of doing research if it is not published. In our faculty, you cannot receive a PhD unless you have published. Commented Jul 3, 2013 at 11:28

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