Research is a highly competitive profession where evaluation plays a central role; journals are ranked and individuals are evaluated based on their publication number, the number of times they are cited and their h-index. Yet such evaluations are often done in inappropriate ways that are damaging to individual careers, particularly for young scholars, and to the profession. Furthermore, as with all indices, people can play games to better their scores. This has resulted in the incentive structure of science increasingly mimicking economic principles, but rather than a monetary gain, the incentive is a higher score. To ensure a diversity of cultural perspectives and individual experiences, we gathered a team of academics in the fields of ecology and evolution from around the world and at different career stages. We first examine how authorship, h-index of individuals and journal impact factors are being used and abused. Second, we speculate on the consequences of the continued use of these metrics with the hope of sparking discussions that will help our fields move in a positive direction. We would like to see changes in the incentive systems, rewarding quality research and guaranteeing transparency. Senior faculty should establish the ethical standards, mentoring practices and institutional evaluation criteria to create the needed changes.
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