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Publish or Perish!


This game will replace homework in this class. Hopefully it will be more fun.


  • This game is an experiment. We are trying it for the following reasons:
  • School isn't fun enough for you anymore. I need more engagement from you.
  • Computer games are more fun, so why not turn school into a computer game?
  • My graders left me in the lurch at the end of the quarter several times recently.
  • My graders have not been getting your papers back to you in a timely manner.
  • Hiring graders is getting more difficult every year. Even if you find someone willing, they are only willing if they have a "key."
  • The quality of the grading lately is often very poor.
  • Paying graders is an expense for the school we can cut down on by eliminating homework.
  • I don't have time to grade student homework myself. Grading exams in a timely manner is difficult enough.
  • Doing and reading example problems is important for learning.
  • You learn best when you teach others.
  • Often you only quickly glance at your homework score without figuring out what you did wrong. This wastes the graders efforts. I even see this effect on exams sometimes.
  • I want you to learn about the research profession. This game models how research is done.
  • You are always asking for more worked example problems, and a better textbook. This will help provide those resources you need.
  • We want to make the world a better place. One deliverable of this game is a useful reference for future students and the world.
  • I have found that writing good exam problems is a learning experience for me, so creating and solving good example problems should be a good experience for you.
  • The gaming industry has discovered that small frequent rewards are more conducive to forming habits, which lead to more revenue for them. For us it will lead to more learning, and better resources. In this respect, this game may not follow the way research works in the real world, but this aspect is necessary to make the game fun which is necessary to keep you playing it.
  • I would like timely feedback to students, and hopefully this provides that.

How Research Works

In this game we will be building up a class wiki that will contain articles, example problems and solutions relative to the class topics we are learning. In the real world, researchers are in the business of learning and sharing information to make the world a better place. We want to do that too. We will try and follow the research pattern as closely as feasible. This will enable you to learn about how research works in the real world, while you are still an undergraduate, something that usually doesn't happen. In the research world, integrity is of paramount importance, as it is for this game. No form of plagiarism will be tolerated. In order to get a wiki account, you will need to agree that you are the creator of all content you contribute, and that it will be made available to everyone under a the Gnu Free Documentation License ( Related to this, you must wrestle with the issues of copyright, fair use, etc. See Wikipedia for more information regarding the restrictions of copyright law as well as what it allows.

The external rewards from research come from publishing papers in peer reviewed journals. The more papers, a researcher publishes, the more rewards he or she receives. Since one of the purposes of research is to press knowledge forward, you generally cannot publish a paper that is very similar something already published. The first person to publish gets that privilege, and late comers don't. So it is a kind of race to see who can publish first. Later works are often based on earlier ones, extending them in some way.

Researchers police themselves using the peer review process. They review each other's papers. In the peer review process, they check to make sure the material hasn't been published previously, and they check for all kinds of errors. Sometimes reviewers will recommend that a paper be revised before publication or that it not be published at all.

Sometimes the reviewers don't catch an author's errors. This is highly embarrassing to the author and can diminish his or her prestige, as well as that of the reviewers and publishers.

The more significant his or her papers are, the more rewards a researcher receives. Significance can be measured in several ways. One is how many people read their articles. Another is how many authors cite their articles. Some journals are very difficult to get published in, because their purpose is to publish only the best and most important late breaking research. Publishing in these journals carries more prestige.

Researchers present their ideas, not only in peer reviewed research journals, but also by presenting lectures, papers or posters at conferences. Well respected researchers may be invited to present papers at conferences by their peers and/or conference organizers. These invited papers/lectures are more prestigious than standard conference papers and presentations. Of course there are deadlines by which time the paper must be finished for conferences. Late submissions usually don't make it into the conference proceedings.

Researchers often form teams of researchers that work together, called research groups. They work together to solve problems and publish papers. If one person is chiefly responsible for a paper, but others contributed, the principle author is listed first on the paper, and the others afterwards. If they all contributed equally, they are listed alphabetically. Working in groups help researchers to solve problems that they alone could not solve so quickly. Collaboration is rewarding.

Game Rules

There will be a page on the wiki to keep track of the scores. Everyone will be able to see your standing along with everyone else's. These scores, along with your wiki work, will be used to decide your overall homework grade by the professor at the end of the class. Your reviewers will post your points when they approve a publication for you. This is an experimental game at this point, and if you see things occurring that are unfair or not in tune with our purposes above, please let's discuss the problems and try and resolve them.

You will each have a page on the wiki where you may work on your own articles. When you are ready for a review, go to and get two random integers corresponding to two classmates who will review your paper. (The class will be numbered alphabetically to determine each person's number.) Send them email requesting a review.

The reviewers have three days to review your work. They must either agree that your paper should be published, or give you reasons while it is rejected, and possible ideas on how to fix it up for resubmission (to them).


When an article is approved, the authors and the reviews should look over the wiki and move the article to the most logical place on the wiki for the article.


On the score page, each student will have a total by their name. Those involved in activities receiving points are to update their totals at the finish of each transaction, so that it is easy to see the standings of each participant at any time. One big reward for researchers is fame, and the respect of their colleagues.

Scoring Points for Publication

When a paper is accepted by the reviewers, they receive one point for every six lines each, and the authors receive one point per line to be divided among them. Since they say "A picture is worth a thousand words," figures receive one hundred points. The authors decide how to divide the points, and the score page is updated with information as follows:

  • Title of Publication:
  • Authors and proportion of points for each author:
  • Reviewers:
  • Readers:

Hints for Reviewers

  • Be very careful to check for plagiarism. Use Google. Read their references. Be sure the authors have permission from the original authors to use figures, or quote large sections.
  • Be sure it makes sense to quote where that occurs. It isn't good practice to quote just because you want to use an author's work without revising it. A better reason for a quote is to be sure the person who is being quoted is not misunderstood. For example, if you wish to use ideas that a textbook author has in homework problems, it is best to cite the textbook to give credit for the ideas, and then re-write the homework problem before solving it. Copyright applies not to ideas, but to the presentation of them.
  • If it looks like someone is just putting in extra photos, or being verbose just to run up their score, send their paper back for revisions.
  • Be sure the paper cites all the internal references that are pertinent, as well as some external ones if there are pertinent ones there.
  • Be sure the paper is well written. Your name as a reviewer is attached. (Note: most of the time in the real world that doesn't occur in such a public way, but if you don't do a good job of reviewing, publishers won't ask you again.). Don't hesitate to send a paper back for improvements if you can see how they can be made.
  • If you feel that the paper's topic isn't appropriate, i.e. it won't help anyone get ready for the exams, reject it.
  • If you can't review a paper in the three days, tell the author to get another reviewer.


The "Readers:" list is for everyone. When you read an article, and concur that there are no errors in the article, then you put your name on this list. You receive one point per every ten lines of the article for each article where your name appears on the Readers: list. The authors receive half the number of points the reader does for each reader on the list.


For each citation you make of another author's work, that author receives two points, and the authors citing the work, get one point. Note: Authors are responsible for citing previous work that your work is directly dependent on. In real world research, a reviewer is likely to be an author of work the authors should be citing. If those citations are missing, the reviewers are often not happy about it.

Scoring Points for Errata

If you find an error in the article you can contest it with the reviewers and the article authors. If they concur you have found an error, the article authors give you one point per every three lines of the article; the reviewers each give you one point per every ten lines of article, and you get a point for every twenty lines of the article from each reader that has signed up under the Readers: list.

Article requirements

Each article must meet the following requirements: It must not be too similar to any other article on the wiki. It should cite pertinent references. It should be well written.


Every so often, as announced by the instructor, there will be a conference on a certain set of topics. There will be a "call for papers." For every conference you do not publish anything, you will lose five points. All conference papers must be submitted by the conference date (before class). Conference papers will not be segregated from the others in the wiki, but in the scoring page, they must be identified as conference papers along with the conference date.

You can nominate other researchers to present invited papers at the conference on a page linked on the scores page. The professor may at his discretion invite a nominated researcher to do a presentation in class (at the conference). The professor will apply a number of points to the invited speakers score, based on his presentation.

Research Groups

Teamwork works for research too. We will pick team captains and they can pick teams. The team sizes will be about four each. Team scores will also be kept. Being on a winning team will help your overall grade in the class.


Wiki URL: [1]

Keeping Score

  • 1 point/(line of text or equations) Note: A line is considered 10 words. <ref name="wpl">A line is considered 10 words.</ref>
  • 100 points/figure
    • Note: You only get points for figures you created yourself in this category. If you use someone else's figure, you get citation credit when you cite them, but no points for the figure itself. If you put a figure in the wiki, you must have permission of the figure's creator.
  • 1 point/(citation of other work)
    • Note: You must reference any work you use, especially anything you quote or use with permission.
  • 3 points/(citation of this work)
  • 1/20 point/line/reader <ref name="wpl"/>
  • -1/3 point/line for errata (Transfer points to the finder of the errata.)<ref name="wpl"/>
  • 1/2 points/line<ref name="wpl"/>
  • 1 point/figure
  • -1/5 points/line for errata (Transfer points to the finder of the errata.)<ref name="wpl"/>
  • 1/10 point/line<ref name="wpl"/>
  • -1/20 point/line for errata (Transfer points to the finder of the errata.)<ref name="wpl"/>

Game Problems (Feel Free to Add Your Comments Here)

  1. Too much competition. Students do not like the idea that improving their score would lower their buddy's. Collaboration is not rewarded.
  2. Students don't like the idea if they write up an idea, it may make work their buddy did obsolete.
  3. Students don't like the idea if they publish something, their buddy has one less topic to write on.
  4. Too much uncertainty on their grades.
  5. Too much uncertainty on the time needed for success.
  6. It is hard to construct the rules so that high quality articles get rewarded while marginal articles are rejected.
  7. Reviewers need to be anonymous. As it is, reviewers are reluctant to reject any articles, for fear of reprisal, or because of their friendships with their classmates, or just because they won't receive the points for reviewing the paper.
  8. Students fear that they will know one thing well, but won't get a good handle on the other topics.
  9. Students don't like the idea that you can't have duplicate articles.
  10. Students don't feel they know what to write articles on, even with suggestions.
  11. Students want the professor, and not other students, to determine what they need to know. (Students don't like the idea that they are responsible for any more than the minimum information necessary to complete the class successfully. If someone publishes something beyond this, they must learn more to pass the class. This discourages publishing anything beyond the bare minimum.)
  12. Editing the wiki takes more time and thought than using a paper and pencil.
  13. Perhaps students don't want their work out there for everyone to view.
  14. Reasons the professor had regarding the difficulties with graders should not have been shared with students. Students have a right to do homework and have it graded, regardless of how difficult it is to get done.
  15. Students may not have liked keeping score.


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