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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