You know what’s crazy?
I’ll tell you what’s crazy, completely crazy. There’s a small group of people, scientists, that do everything for free. I mean not exactly everything, but almost, and then they give it away. How crazy is that? Once they do an experiment they give it all away, everything. They publish the abstract, the methods, the analysis, the results, the discussion, everything! And they give it away for FREE. You can go to the library or go online and look it up. It’s ALL there. Heck, with everything they give away, you could repeat the experiment again, exactly. They do all this work, and they give it all away. How crazy is that?
And it’s not just a few scientists. It’s almost every scientist. It’s like a cult. They’re all crazy. They’re all giving away everything they do.
And you know what’s even more crazy? They’ve been doing this for three and a half centuries. That’s how long they’ve been doing this crazy thing they call “peer-review publishing.” Giving away everything they know for free.
And you know what’s even crazier? If you want to get a job as a scientist, you have to agree that you’re going to belong to this crazy cult. Want to join the faculty at a prestigious university, where you can think new thoughts and write them down and do your research and have a bunch of grad students do experiments that you’re too busy to do? Great. If you’re good enough we’ll let you join our club, but there’s just one caveat: you’ve got to give away everything you do. All of it. For free. Sounds crazy, doesn’t it?
In fact, the unspoken rule of this cult states that if you don’t give away enough original thinking, we’ll banish you from the cult. You don’t get to teach at our top-notch university any more. We’ll kick you to the curb and send you off to some ninth-rate college where you’ll teach the basic principles of your discipline to bored students who couldn’t care less for the rest of your life. Sorry. It feels brutal, doesn’t it? It’s crazy, but you see, we have a Rule.
The Rule is simple: Publish or Perish. If you don’t regularly come up with original thinking, and write it down, and make it interesting to read, and give it away for free, you can’t stay in our cult. That’s crazy, but that’s the Rule.
What do you get in return? Almost nothing. It’s just this tiny, crazy thing. It’s hard to measure; it’s so small it doesn’t weigh anything. It’s a by-product, really. Some call it credibility. Some call it reputation. It’s crazy, but it’s important enough that it can make—or break—your career. You want to be invited to stand on the podium because what you’re saying is so important that everyone will write it down? Fine, give away your thinking and make sure it’s original. In fact, if you give away thinking that’s original and important enough, you can even stand on the podium as they hand you a Nobel prize. You can’t buy one of those, you know. You can only get one by giving away what you know. For free. How crazy is that?
And you want to know what’s really crazy? Crazier than everything I’ve said so far? We ALL have to play by this Rule now. That’s crazy, but it’s true. It’s Publish or Perish for all of us. It’s not just for scientists and academicians; they were just ahead of their time.
They called it peer-reviewed publishing for the last three and a half centuries. Now, the rest of us call it content marketing. (At the core, they’re exactly the same thing.) It can make—or break—your career. If you don’t regularly come up with original thinking, and write it down, and make it interesting to read, and give it away for free, you can’t stay in whatever cult you desperately want to be a part of. We’ll kick you to the curb. You don’t get any of this tiny, crazy thing that’s hard to measure; it’s so small it doesn’t weigh anything but it carries a lot of weight. Some call it credibility. Some call it reputation.
You know what’s crazy? You want credibility? You want reputation? You want to be the top search result in Google? You want to be invited to stand on the podium because what you’re saying is so important that everyone will write it down?
Follow the Rule. It’s simple. Publish or Perish. It applies to all of us, not just scientists. Now that’s crazy.
David Chapin is the CEO of Forma Life Science Marketing where he works with scientifically-based companies to Make the Complex Compelling. You can follow him at @dschapin. You can reach him at david[at]winwithoutpitching[dot]com.