Publish or Perish mantra in the medical field: A systematic review of the reasons, consequences and remedies

Salman Y. Guraya, Robert I. Norman, Khalid I. Khoshhal, Shaista Salman Guraya, Antonello Forgione


Objectives: Generally, academic promotions, job retention, job mobility, and professional development of a medical faculty members are judged primarily by the growth in publication outputs. Universities and research institutions are more likely to recruit and promote those academics carrying voluminous résumés with larger number of published articles. This review elaborates the causes and consequences of the pressure to publish and the ways and means to cope with this paradigm.

Methods: In 2015, database of Abstracts of Reviews of Effects, LISTA (EBSCO), Medline and Oxford University Library were searched for the English language full-text articles published during 2000-2015, by using MeSH terms “pressure to publish”, “urge to publish”, “research ethics”, “plagiarism”, “article retraction”, “medical field”. This search was further refined by selecting the articles in terms of relevancy and contents.

Results: This research showed that some universities offer generous grants to researchers with a high h-index and with more publications in elite journals, which promise an enhanced prospect of citations and elevation in the scientific rankings of the funding institutions. This generates an involuntary obsession to publish with the primary intention to obtain promotions, high scientific rankings, and improved job security. This compelling pressure to publish results in widespread publication of non-significant research with a high index of plagiarism that eventually leads to an increased frequency of retractions.

Conclusion: Research centers and academic institutions have an obligation to train their academics in sound scientific writing and to apprise them of the publication ethics and the grave consequences of plagiarism and research misconduct. 


How to cite this:Guraya SY, Norman RI, Khoshhal KI, Guraya SS, Forgione A. Publish or Perish mantra in the medical field: A systematic review of the reasons, consequences and remedies. Pak J Med Sci. 2016;32(6):1562-1567.   doi:

This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

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