The following poem, "Publish or Perish," has won the (English-language category) prize in the Euroscience Open Forum (ESOF2006) Poetry Competition, sponsored by the Andrea von Braun Stiftung. The award of 300 euros has been donated by the author to the Alliance for Taxpayer Access in support of our efforts to promote the adoption of the Federal Research Public Access Act (FRPAA) in the US.
Publish or Perish
As Science is mere structured common sense,
her means but trial-and-error made intense,
the only virtue setting her apart,
and raising her above (some think) mere Art,
is her convergence ever on consensus:
collective, self-corrective her defenses.
A flagellant, she boldly does defy
Reality her schemes to falsify.
And yet this noble jousting were in vain,
and all this pain would yield no grain of gain
if Science were content, a shrinking violet,
her works from all the world e'er to keep private.
Instead, performance public and artistic,
restraining all propensities autistic,
perhaps less out of error-making dread,
than banal need to earn her daily bread.
For showbiz being what it is today,
work's not enough, you've got to make it pay.
What ratings, sweeps and polls count for our actors,
no less than our elected benefactors,
for Science the commensurate equation
is not just publication but citation.
The more your work is accessed, read and used,
the higher then is reckoned its just dues.
Sounds crass, but there may be some consolation,
where there's still some residual motivation
to make a difference, not just make a fee:
the World Wide Web at last can make Science free.