Tag Archives: literature

Some journal covers - Nature, American Naturalist, Entomologia Experimentalis et Applicata

Why I still list (and pay attention to) journal names

I’ve seen half a dozen posts and essays arguing that we should stop publicizing, listing, or paying attention to the names of the journals our papers are published in.  The argument goes along these lines*.  First, we should judge the worth of papers based on their content, not based on where they were published.  Second, when filtering papers – deciding which ones to read – we should filter them based on what they’re about (as communicated by their titles and abstracts), not by the journal they’re in.

This argument is, I think, a logical extension of arguments against the impact factor.  I think those arguments are overdone, and I think this one is too. Continue reading


What’s your most undercited paper?

Back in February, I asked “What’s your most overcited paper?. That left an obvious question hanging: what, instead, is your most undercited paper? I’m going to tell you about mine, and I hope you’ll tell me about yours in the Comments. You may be worried that this will be an exercise in which I whine that nobody appreciates my work, but in fact that’s not what I have in mind. Well, not exactly*. Continue reading

What’s your most overcited paper?

“Publish or perish”, we say, except that it probably isn’t enough just to be published: we want to be, and maybe need to be, highly cited.  Tenure committees, granting agencies, and the like devour citation data, journals compete for citations to boost their impact factors, and we worry about detecting authors who self-cite to manipulate their citation stats.  Now, all this may sound like a lead-in to a post decrying overemphasis on citation counting, but it isn’t.  Actually, I think citation counting is worthwhile – so long as it isn’t fetishized*.  After all, a paper with lots of citations probably made some people think, and with luck had some influence on the progress of science (a nice post on this from Pat Thomson is here).

Our emphasis on citation means that we are (I think) all very aware of the citation performance of our own papers.  It’s easy to track via Web of Science or Google Scholar, and that’s how I made the figure above: citations vs. years post-publication for 65 of my own papers, taken from my Google Scholar profile.  There’s a lot I could do with these data, but for some reason I’ve been thinking about which of my papers is the most overcited.  (I hope it’s clear from the title that I want you to mention your own most overcited paper in the Comments.)

What could I mean by an “overcited” paper?  Continue reading

When not to read the literature

That’s the shelf in my office where I pile new journals still in their mailers. It’s embarrassing for two reasons.  First, it betrays my age that I still subscribe to print journals.  Second, there must be 2 years worth of unread issues in that pile!

Looking at the pile every day led me to think about my literature-reading habits, and then to ask myself a question: when should one read the literature, and when should one not? Continue reading