Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Dear fellow researchers... (this is a rant!)

... it is quite normal that after spending hours/days/months in the lab/in front of the computer/scribbling notes and equations on paper, we have the desire to show the world the results of all our hard work (and of course because the next funding agency we apply to needs to be impressed was well). And of course we are all busy and writing a publication can be a tedious task.
But if you think it is good style to toss all your data of all the 38 systems you've found in your drawer in one confusing graph, that it is enough to describe details of these graphs that can't actually be seen in the text and base your conclusions on them without providing proper evidence and that this huge mess will then be published, you just missed a very important point. You should not be writing to increase the length of your publication list! Surprised? You should be writing to make your research progress available to the public or at least to the science audience. You should write in a way that the story of your research is easy to grasp for the reader. He should not be forced to decipher from 20 different data sets presented as black lines, which one is the double dash dot one. Nor should it be necessary to read up 5 other publications to be able to follow your conclusions. Trying to wrap up your research in a concise and maybe even (gasp!) interesting way is certainly a skill that needs to be practiced, but it is as well a courtesy to your audience to at least try. And in general it is always a good idea to have a good think about the reviewer comments, before you reply something along the line that you don't give a shit. I dearly hope you will not be able to find reviewers who let you publish this mess!
Rant: stop!

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