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Science papers becoming too complex?

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From Statnews:

A new analysis in the journal PLOS ONE has found that research papers in the life sciences have become increasingly dense over the past quarter-century. They have higher page counts, more — and more detailed — figures and tables, longer lists of authors, and richer appendices of supplementary data. The authors of the paper gathered all of those elements into an “average publishing unit,” which they found has doubled in the past two-plus decades.

Although all that additional information packed into an individual study might be a good thing for science, the authors suggest that it could be too much strain for the system to bear. Peer reviewers are, after all, practicing scientists themselves with their own deadlines to meet; scrutinizing a paper always takes a while, but scrutinizing a longer one, well, takes longer. “Increasing reviewer workload could translate into information overload for reviewers and a reduction in the quality of the peer-review process,” the authors of the new study wrote.More.

It’s possible scientists could learn a bit from professional writers about layering one’s information, according to the needs of the audience.

See also: Top ridiculous academic papers

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Charles Interesting suggestion worth serious consideration. As the wet/dry lab researchers produce more papers at an increasing rate, shedding more light on the elaborate molecular and cellular choreographies orchestrated within the biological systems, this paper 'density' issue could get even worse. We ain't seen nothing yet. :) Dionisio
Or, maybe the editors could do a better job of 'project managing' the review process: - assign more reviewer's with more diverse disciplines with each reviewer focusing on aspects of the paper in which their discipline is indepth, and then have the reviwers talk to each other to exchange findings. Every review ought to include professional statisticians, for example, just to check the math and models. Chemists and physicists just to check the formulations and experimental apparatus. Programmers to check the software algorithms. etc.... That is in addition to say, molecular biochecmists when the paper is about some new research on molecular biochemistry. Less dross and more depth. Fewer shallow "PR releases" and more lengthy, detailed papers are a good thing - it's the pal review that needs to improve, and editors are responsible. Charles

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