The post title is an aphorism that riffs on how much of a college professor's reputation is based on how many articles or books he or she has in print. A mediocre teacher can gain an edge in angling for a tenured professorship if he or she has more articles than a better teacher.
But since most Ph. D.'s aren't required to take a single course on teaching in order to earn their degrees, the contest may wind up being between two mediocrities. Which makes me think the college should just save themselves the grief and put the mediocrities on a public ballot like political offices do.
Anyway, some folks connected to the Journal of Vibration and Control took the importance of published material seriously enough that they developed a fraud ring of fake peer-reviewers to support the value of a submitted article. "Peer-review" is the process by which other people in a field of expertise examine an article to see if the author's methodology is sound. A reviewer need not agree with the conclusions, but either way, if they come across serious errors in procedure or testing, they will alert the journal which will in turn contact the article's author and ask, "What's up?"
It seems the ring was using the fake identities to suggest that articles were good to go, thus expanding the number of "peers" who rated the submissions as acceptable in their methodology and scientific procedures. The JVR covers a highly specialized field of acoustics, and when the ring was uncovered it was forced to retract more than 60 articles that had been tainted by the ring's shenanigans. It's published monthly rather than quarterly like some academic journals, but still, 60 articles is a significant chunk of verbiage that the journal now says can't be vouched for.
That the problem was found out is a good thing, of course, even if it happened in a not-so-well-known publication read by a relatively small group of specialists. But it does make me wonder, at least, about the pressure the publishing drive brings if a professor dreams up a scheme like this, as well as whether or not "peer review" is the magic authenticity bullet it is claimed to be. This may be one more system of the higher education industry that needs either an overhaul or at least a squinty-eyed closer look.