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Beer Drinking Researchers Publish Fewer Papers


A new study has shown that researchers who spend more time in the pub produce fewer papers. According to Thomáš Grim, the author of the study, there is a correlation between the amount of beer drunk and the quantity, and quality, of scientists’ research.

Grim, an ecologist at Palacky University in the Czech Republic, found that researchers who drank more beer per year produced a lower number of papers, and gained fewer total citations (mentions of their research in other scientists’ work) and citations per paper.

The study set out to determine whether social activities play a role in determining the quality of publications, and as Grim points out in the paper, “One of the most frequent social activities in the world is drinking alcohol”.

Grim’s research, soon to be published in the ecological journal Oikos, was carried out in two different areas of the Czech Republic, the country with the highest beer consumption rate in the world. “In the UK, we’d like to think we don’t experience these effects because we don’t tend to consume quite so much alcohol,” said Sasha Dall, a mathematical ecologist at the University of Exeter, speaking to Null Hypothesis.

The obvious short-term consequences of a night on the tiles were mentioned as part of the problem, alongside more long-term effects such as depression and lack of co-operation with others.

Decreased quality of papers was also linked with the employability of the researcher. Grim suggests that drinking copious amounts of beer might not only affect the current paper being published, but the researcher’s future financial income and social status.

Others claim they have experienced benefits from the consumption of alcohol in terms of original thought. Professor Innes Cuthill, a behavioural ecologist at the University of Bristol, was surprised by Grim’s results. “I would have thought the relationship would have been the other way round.”

So will this revealing study put scientists off their pints? Unlikely.

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Dr. Mark Steer
Null Hypothesis, the Journal of Unlikely Science
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01 Dec 2008
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