This phrase crops up more and more frequently now and although I’ve used it myself, I’m not sure that I like it. To me it implies some sort of publishing promotion: “Publish 150 short stories, 30 short shorts, and 70 articles and you’ll qualify to be fast-tracked onto the novel-publication scheme!”
That’s not how it really works.
Where you’ve published is perhaps more important than how much you’ve published. There’s a big difference, credit-wise, in publishing a story in a vanity-published anthology and publishing one in the New Yorker. Vanity publishing doesn’t ever count as a credit, regardless of how good your work is; self-published titles sometimes will, so long as your book sells a stonking number of copies and picks up a good share of public awareness. Unrecognised courses that you pay to go on don’t necessarily count (although they can be useful); and an MA from the UEA is, as far as I can see, always going to get your work looked at, while not all other MA courses will.
If anyone would like to put some time into working out the details of the credit system I would be thrilled. How many pieces of published flash fiction equal one published short story? Does genre affect the score? And if so, does literary fiction score higher than SF because it’s more artsy, or lower because it’s more pompous and impenetrable? What about competitions: how many times would you have to win your local writing group’s weekly short story prize to earn the same credit as if you won the Orange Prize? And should we offer optional trauma-counselling to those writers for whom the Writers’ Literary Agency made deals with Publish America?