Why “Prestige” is Better Than Your h-Index

Psychological science is one of the fields that is undergoing drastic changes in how we think about research, conduct studies and evaluate previous findings. Most notably, many studies from well-known researchers are under increased scrutiny. Recently, journalists and researchers have reviewed the Stanford Prison Experiment that is closely associated with the name of Philip Zimbardo. Many consider Zimbardo a “prestigious” psychologist. In the discussion about how we should think about doing science in times of the “replicability crisis”, the issue of “prestige” comes up in different forms. Among the recurring questions: Should we trust what prestigious researchers say? Should we put more faith in articles published in prestigious journals?

It seems as if some consider prestige to be something bad: Prestige is not earned through hard work but through capitalizing on past successes and putting oneself in the spotlight. They, in my experience, often criticize journals or conferences for inviting only prestigious authors or speakers. Others (knowingly or unknowingly) put a lot of trust into prestige, for example by accepting theories from prestigious sources more easily.