Africa Scientists Peter Martell/AFP/Getty Images

La nouvelle fuite des cerveaux dans le monde scientifique

DUBAI – En décembre 2013, le prix Nobel de physique Peter Higgs a dit au journal britannique The Guardian : «  Aujourd'hui, je n'obtiendrais pas un poste universitaire. C'est simple : je ne pense pas que je serais considéré comme assez productif ». Ayant publié moins de 10 articles depuis ses travaux révolutionnaires de 1964, Higgs estimait qu’aucune faculté ne l’embaucherait aujourd’hui.

Les chercheurs sont bien conscients de la formule « publier ou périr ». Ils doivent publier, à un rythme toujours plus soutenu, les résultats de leurs recherches dans des revues scientifiques évalués par des pairs pour l’avancement de leur carrière, protéger leurs emplois et obtenir des financements pour les institutions qui les emploient. Mais qu’en est-il pour les scientifiques et autres universitaires, comme ceux du Moyen-Orient, dont les travaux de recherche diffèrent des orientations des principales revues scientifiques - auxquelles ils n’ont d’ailleurs que peu accès –  qui peuvent faire toute la différence dans une carrière ?

Les universitaires et les institutions qui publient beaucoup dans les revues spécialisées obtiennent de meilleurs scores de productivité, qui se traduisent par des avantages importants en termes de perspective de carrière et de financement de leurs recherches. Que ces publications aient un impact mesurable sur leur domaine d’étude est, malheureusement et trop souvent, une préoccupation secondaire. Les incitations qui leur sont proposées font que la quantité prime fréquemment sur la qualité.

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