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The number of publications used as a metric of the NOAO WIYN queue experiment

New Astronomy
Publication Date
DOI: 10.1016/s1384-1076(00)00005-1
  • Instrumentation: Miscellaneous
  • Methods: Miscellaneous
  • Sociology Of Astronomy


Abstract We use the number of papers published in 1998 and 1999 to test the hypothesis that the queue observing mode at WIYN leads to a significantly higher scientific throughput than classical mode observing. We use the papers published from the 4-m, and papers published from the non-queue WIYN time as controls, requiring only that the data be obtained after 1996 August 1, at which time the WIYN queue was in its third full semester of operation, and the WIYN instruments functional and stable. The number of papers published from the queue data is actually 1.5 times smaller (on a per night basis) than from the 4-m, and roughly comparable to (but lower than) the number published from non-queue WIYN time. Thus neither comparison offers any support for the hypothesis that queue leads to a higher scientific throughput. The number of papers is relatively small, but the statistics are sufficiently robust to reject the possibility that queue observing at WIYN leads to a factor of 1.5 enhancement in publication rate with a 99.3% confidence in comparison to the 4-m, and with an 89.9% confidence in comparison with non-queue WIYN time. We consider several explanations, and urge that other observatories planning to employ the queue mode include some controls to provide an objective evaluation of its success.

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