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Whatever happened to brevity? January 25, 2009

Posted by fetzthechemist in Uncategorized.
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I have been doing my somewhat regular looking through literature searches. One thing really strikes me about a lot of papers that seems to be more frequent now. Abstracts are no always a brief summary of the research. Titles are not always succinct description of the work’s key theme. Even the number of authors on some normal-looking papers seems way too inclusive.

I see abstracts that are four, five, even six long paragraphs. A page-long abstract is not really a short description unless the paper is at least a couple dozen pages long.

A title with forty to sixty words is not a well-written one and I think reviewers slip up by allowing such monstrosities.

For any work that does not involve several complicated techniques to look at different aspects of a question or problem, ten authors ought to be a reasonable limit. These papers do not describe the nuclear physics of producing new elements in complicated atomic fusion devices. I see environmental monitoring papers with forty authors! I see synthesis papers with twenty-five? Either cut the various sections apart and beef each up to a separate paper or only acknowledge contributions of people who did not fill key roles.

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