The Perils of ‘Bite Size’ Science; why shorter articles are cited more frequently and why this is worrisome

Via Scoop.itDual impact of research; towards the impactelligent university

In recent years, a trend has emerged in the behavioral sciences toward shorter and more rapidly published journal articles. These articles are often only a third the length of a standard paper, often describe only a single study and tend to include smaller data sets. Shorter formats are promoted by many journals, and limits on article length are stringent — in many cases as low as 2,000 words. This shift is partly a result of the pressure that academics now feel to generate measurable output. According to the cold calculus of “publish or perish,” in which success is often gauged by counting citations, three short articles can be preferable to a single longer one   The authors see a number of serious problems with the short-article format.   First, they dispute that short articles get more bang for the buck.   Second, they challenge the idea that shorter articles are easier and quicker to read.   Third, they worry that shorter, single-study articles can be poor models of science.   Finally, they are troubled by the link between small study size and publication bias.   The authors urge that editors demand more replication of unexpected findings and that the importance that the academic community gives to quantity of citations be balanced with a greater awareness of potential publication bias.   Source: Gray Matter The Perils of ‘Bite Size’ Science Henrik Drescher By Marco Bertamini and Marcus R. Munafò,  psychologists at the University of Liverpool and the University of Bristol, respectively. Published: New York Times, January 28, 2012


About Wilfred Mijnhardt
RMIMR is my virtual playground, a place to reflect on issues from my professional context, my job as Policy Director at Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University (RSM). RSM is the international university based business school at Erasmus University Rotterdam. More info here: Here is my list of relevant publications on the topic of my RMIMR weblog: The rss feed for my RMIMR collection is here: Here is my other weblog on impact of research:

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