by PhilipJ on 19 March 2006
It seems like one of the problems in science (both grad school and pre-tenure) is that so often your professional life hangs in the balance based on the opinions of others. There is no quantitative contract that you sign that says once you have done X, Y, and Z you graduate. Sure, there may be a three paper requirement, but fulfillment of that requirement is subjectively evaluated by your comittee. For a discipline that prides itself on objectivity, repeatability, and quantifiability, we seem to lack that in our careers.
We are peer reviewed from the minute we enter graduate school and pass our courses, and we hope that our peer reviewers (committee members) are fair. If you talk to anyone who has ever had a paper refereed, they will tell you this often isn’t the case. The same issues exist for new professors up for tenure. The problem, as sciencewoman points out, is that there is no truly objective criteria for evaluation. But given the recent issues over the arXiv trackback policy and objectively defining a “practicing scientist”, I don’t know that the alternative is any better.