Knowledge and Communication

Do Publications in Low-Impact Journals Help or Hurt a CV?

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Using psychology professors as participants, the present study investigates how publications in low-impact psychology journals affect evaluations of a hypothetical tenure-track psychology job applicant. Are "weak" publications treated as evidence for or against a candidate's ability? Two experiments revealed that an applicant was rated as stronger when several weak publications were added to several strong ones, and was rated as weaker when the weak publications were removed. A third experiment showed that the additional weak publications were not merely viewed as a signal of additional strong publications in the future; instead, the weak publications themselves appear to be valued. In a fourth and final experiment, we found that adding a greater number of weak publications also strengthened the applicant, but not more so than adding just a few. The study further suggests that the weak publications may signal ability, as applicants with added weak publications were rated as both more hard-working and more likely to generate innovative research ideas. Advice for tenure-track psychology applicants: Don't hesitate to publish in even the weakest journals, as long as it does not keep you from publishing in strong journals. Implications of the market rewarding publications in low-impact journals are discussed.
Bibliographic citation: Donnelly, Kristin; McKenzie, Craig R. M.; Müller-Trede, Johannes, "Do Publications in Low-Impact Journals Help or Hurt a CV?", Journal of Experimental Psychology: Applied, 2019, (Online)

Reference: 10.1037/xap0000228 (DOI)
Date: 20/05/2019
Author(s): Donnelly, Kristin; McKenzie, Craig R. M.; Müller-Trede, Johannes
Document type: Article in Journal (refereed)
Languages: English