One of France’s most prolific scientific authors doesn’t exist – and that’s on purpose

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One of France's most prolific scientific authors doesn't exist - and that's on purpose


One of the most prolific scientific authors in France is in fact a form of protest.

Image via Wikipedia.

Camille Noûs is a very busy bee. His scientific writings cover topics ranging from molecular biology to geography and socio-economics. Needless to say, such impressive work has earned them stellar indicators in international rankings and a bit of influence. Which makes the fact that Camille Noûs isn’t a real person just a little embarrassing.

False for a cause

Noûs (which means “us” or “we” in French) is the product of RogueESR, a group of French academics who “work in higher education and research” and “strongly reject education and research policy. led by the current government ”. The fictional author was intended to show how easily current search ranking systems can be exploited.

“Camille Noûs’ dazzling scores in international rankings will quickly illustrate the absurdity of the indicators used to assess research results,” explained the group for Release.

Camille has been publishing for about a year now, having already co-authored an impressive number of studies. This is a “symbolic character” aimed at showing that research is a collaborative process and not a process in which individual “stars” advance fields and ideas on their own.

Camille’s existence is intended to dig holes in the French government’s emphasis on meritocracy (or “Darwinism” in the words of the CNRS president) which, according to the group, completely denies this collective process.

“I saw it as an act of protest, a good way to demonstrate that the way in which scientific publication and scientific evaluation [done is] not in line with academic values ​​”, explains Stéphane André, professor at the University of Lorraine and one of the first to put the name of Camille Noûs as co-author of one of his articles.

“The advent of rankings based on the list of published articles pushes researchers to no longer want to advance knowledge but their own number of publications. ”

An independent administrative authority has been set up by the French government – the High Council for the Evaluation of Research and Higher Education (HCERES). Essentially, this body is responsible for deciding who’s great and who isn’t, and a key metric they use to determine that is (ultimately) the number of papers each researcher has published.

For most of us, this is not the most important news. But overall, the way research is conducted has a huge impact on our quality of life – it creates the medical devices and techniques we use to stay healthy, produces new and better products, improves productivity. , etc.

Camille Noûs may be fictional, but the problems that made them necessary are very real. Science is not a boon, only some are allowed, it should not be an elite trap. It’s something that concerns us all, and it’s something that everyone should take a step further and appreciate. It also shows that many researchers are tired of the current academic framework, of the monopoly of entities such as journals or councils that decide their fate on the basis of biased or arbitrary measurements.

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