“[Current mass science] does not operate at the pace of real science, but at the pace of management […]. Six monthly appraisals, yearly job plans, three yearly grants and so on. (All evaluations being determined by committee and bureaucracy, rather than by individuals.)”
So says Bruce Charlton, Professor of Theoretical Medicine at the University of Buckingham, here http://thestoryofscience.blogspot.com/
The same can be said for academia in general.
In game design, if one has designed a feature before, then if the new feature is fairly similar, and one can imagine how to implement it, then one can give a rough approximation of the time involved. If the feature is completely terra nova, then there’s no way to know how much time it will take. One instead can start, see how it goes, and start to get a better idea of how long it will take as one gets more into implementing it.
This is relevant for bureaucratic science, where ‘goals’ are set for what will be discovered by what time, or where certain units of predictable progress are expected. This sort of managerial approach to science is a misunderstanding of what scientific exploration is when it comes to terra nova areas of science.
Using number of papers to judge scientific progress is similar to a managerial approach used in coding – using lines of code to judge progress. The latter is a pretty poor metric. Often, this just leads to code bloat, bugs, and so on. Similarly, in science (or academia in general) judging things by the number of papers leads to ‘knowledge bloat’ (a high noise:signal ratio in terms of valuable things being written), and I am guessing to other problems.