The downside of bibliometrics: let’s reinvent the wheel – and patent it!

Bibliometrics such as the h-index and g-index are often used to judge the quality of a researcher’s work.  They are often used in the tenure review process, to help evaluate grant applications, and to promote entire academic departments (side note: I really like the folks at Albany so I mean them no disrespect – they really are a quality department).  But here’s where the danger comes in.  As absolutely hysterical as it sounds, some doctor at St. Luke’s in New York has reinvented calculus and named it after herself.  What’s worse, is that this article, according to Google scholar, has received 161 citations!  That certainly bodes well for Dr. Tai’s h-index.

Incidentally, pre-med students at my own institution are not required to take calculus (which is why we, in physics, are required to offer a separate, non-calculus-based introductory physics course).  It doesn’t make me confident in the medical community (not that I was to begin with).

Hey, while we’re at it, let’s reinvent the wheel – and patent it!


3 Responses to “The downside of bibliometrics: let’s reinvent the wheel – and patent it!”

  1. rdmounce Says:

    do you ever feel that they (med students) have information that you should know? or, in other words, are they equally bright, but what is that nature of *being* bright? You obviously are. Are they? Does learning calculus, or any discipline, by its disciplined nature, become something better in the person because of the objects studied? It is good exercise, in any case, no doubt. well, I am assuming a nature of “good” in recommending calculus as an exercise.

    Liked your post, in any case. The classic med student is the one in Young Frankenstein… “isn’t it true?” ha ha

    • quantummoxie Says:

      Sure, many of them are very bright students. But they’re not always inquisitive and I think that’s the key. For example, about eight years ago I had a pre-med student who aced my intro physics course (which is very, very hard to do). I run my labs based on the “discovery” method (purely applied Socratic method that forces them to puzzle things out for themselves [though with guidance, obviously] – that is absolutely the only way you can really learn, well, anything, in my opinion). This student absolutely hated those labs and said to me once, “I just want someone to tell me what to do.”

      That is an exact quote. I will never forget it. My response to her was my standard response to pre-med students with similar complaints. Who’s going to tell you what to do when I show up in your office with some disease you’ve never seen before and have no idea how to treat? Who’s going to tell you what to do when I show up in your O.R. and have a complication during surgery that you never learned about in a class?

      A good doctor needs to be inquisitive. A good doctor needs to want to learn new things constantly. He/she should be insatiable when it comes to acquiring knowledge. And a good doctor needs to question everything just as a good scientist should.

  2. Don’t know 🙂

    If you think of it my way, she’s really doing it your way. She’s inventive, finding a logical way that she, to her knowledge, haven’t seen any other medical practitioner doing. If you had had her at an early stage in your class she might have thought of something else, which just might have been more interesting. Then again, this is supposing she never have been introduced to those concepts before, which might be questionable.

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