Beer and Publications

OK, so I was going to write about bioinformatics and phylogenetics in this blog, and here is my second post already that ignores both!
I just read a paper testing the relationship between beer consumption and publication output of ecologists in the Czech Republic. Apparently the higher your consumption the lower your total number of publications, total number of citations and citations per paper. Damn.
One of my colleagues just said she was very surprised that there wasn’t a positive relationship. I wouldn’t have been entirely surprised if the relationship had been the other way either- I’ve always thought most “thought science” was actually done in pubs and coffee rooms. But it seems that might not promote actually doing the experiment or writing the stuff up.

Grim, T (2008) “A possible role of social activity to explain differences in publication output among ecologists” Oikos, doi: 10.1111/j.2008.0030-1299.16551.x
“Publication output is the standard by which scientific productivity is evaluated. Despite a plethora of papers on the issue of publication and citation biases, no study has so far considered a possible effect of social activities on publication output. One of the most frequent social activities in the world is drinking alcohol. In Europe, most alcohol is consumed as beer and, based on well known negative effects of alcohol consumption on cognitive performance, I predicted negative correlations between beer consumption and several measures of scientific performance. Using a survey from the Czech Republic, that has the highest per capita beer consumption rate in the world, I show that increasing per capita beer consumption is associated with lower numbers of papers, total citations, and citations per paper (a surrogate measure of paper quality). In addition I found the same predicted trends in comparison of two separate geographic areas within the Czech Republic that are also known to differ in beer consumption rates. These correlations are consistent with the possibility that leisure time social activities might influence the quality and quantity of scientific work and may be potential sources of publication and citation biases.”

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