I just received a copy of The Survival of a Mathematician: From Tenure-Track to Emeritus, by Steven Krantz, to review for MAA Reviews.
I am only two pages in and I have already found something interesting (on p. xiv, to be precise).
It is a hard fact that most American Ph.D. mathematicians write very few papers. According to recent statistics from the American Mathematical Society, of those authors who publish anything at all in their careers:
- About 43% publish only one paper
- About 15% publish only two papers
- About 8% publish only three papers
- About 75% publish five or fewer papers
Unfortunately, he doesn’t cite the study. I tried looking at the AMS website and couldn’t find it. I’d really like to read more about this study. Who are mathematicians surveyed? Those who earn a Ph.D. who currently teach full time? What constitutes a publication? How do they handle the fact that the data come from mathematicians at different stages of their careers? How does it break down according to type of institution? And the question I most want to know—how many publish zero papers?
If anyone has a link to the survey, please post it in the comments.
Here’s a fun quote that my provost sent me a few years ago (I don’t know who Eric Bach is):
“If ‘publish or perish’ were really true, Leonhard Euler would still be alive.”—Eric Bach
On a related note, I encourage people to volunteer to do reviews for MAA Reviews. They provide a great service to the mathematical community. Plus reviewing for them is a great way to get free books. MAA reviews is run by Fernando Gouvêa.