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Stephen Fiore | Aug, 06 2017


Publish Or Impoverish

Hi Everyone - I just came across this article about a recent paper out on arXiv.  The authors did a great job tracking down the incentive systems China has put in place for publishing in top-tier journals.  There are a few interesting
findings to point out.  

First, the amount of the bonuses can be huge (see p. 15 -- e.g., “the reward value for a JASIST paper is equal to a single year’s salary for a newly hired professor while the cash award for a Nature or Science article is up to
20 times a university professors’ average annual salary.”).   Second, in addition to bonuses for publishing, there also bonuses for receiving a certain number of citations.  Third, when it comes to co-authored papers, the policies vary, but the majority only
award a bonus to first authors (see excerpt below).  The others have discounted amounts such as percentages dependent upon order of author (which makes little sense for disciplines where authorship is always alphabetical).

Anyway, this screams for follow-up analyses to see how this is affecting any number of important outcomes, such as quality (e.g., corrections, retractions, etc.), desire to collaborate, whether co-authors parse papers to submit numerous shorter papers, gaming
papers (topics) to garner citations, etc. etc. etc.
Excerpt on co-authorship
From p. 12 of article:  “The amount of individual cash rewards per WoS paper varies from 30 USD to 165,000 USD. Not all authors of a paper can claim cash rewards. In 118 out of 168 cash reward policies, universities only award cash to the first author;
some universities even require that the awarded author must be both the first author and the corresponding author in 22 out of these 118 policies. Among 25 exceptional policies, universities award cash to non-first authors whose papers were published in particular
prestigious journals (e.g., Nature, Science). Only 13 policies indicate that non-first authors may be awarded for all eligible publications, as they could get a discounted amount (e.g., half for the second author, a quarter for the third, etc.). In addition,
there is no specific requirement for authorship in 12 out of 168 policies.”

The Truth about China’s Cash-for-Publication Policy

The first study of payments to Chinese scientists for publishing in high-impact journals has serious implications for the future of research


Publish Or Impoverish: An Investigation Of The Monetary Reward System Of Science In China (1999-2016)



Stephen M. Fiore, Ph.D.

Professor, Cognitive Sciences, Department of Philosophy (

Director, Cognitive Sciences Laboratory, Institute for Simulation & Training (

University of Central Florida

Paula Stephan | Aug, 07 2017


Re: Publish Or Impoverish


View Original Post

Thanks for calling attention to this interesting article. 

In 2011, Chiara Franzoni, Giuseppe Scellato and I published an article in
Science relating incentives (including cash) to submission patterns over 10 years to the journal
Science.  The article can be found here:
.  We found that submissions increased significantly from countries that implemented cash incentives.
Paula Stephan
Paula Stephan
Professor of Economics
Georgia State University
Research Associate, NBER