Posts Tagged ‘Embargopocalypse’

The obscure journal dilemma

Wednesday, January 12th, 2011

giant shelf of booksPositivity.

Childhood.

small.

What do these have in common? One, they’re all scientific journals. Two, chances are you’ve never heard of them. (No offense, journals.)

These titles don’t have quite the ring of Science, Nature or PNAS — three of the most-cited journals in modern times — and they rarely carry the studies that send newsfolk into a frenzy, e.g. the recent one about evidence of microbes incorporating arsenic into the backbones of their DNA.

But obscure journals have cool science tucked between their covers. Even the brutal ranks of impact factor, one of the slave drivers of publish-or-perish culture in science, can’t take that away from them.

As a science writer, this fills me with sorrow. I know they hold fascinating and newsworthy gems, the kind of studies people would want to read about. But the noise-to-signal ratio is multiplied by thousands upon thousands of titles. And I’m but one nerdy person to sift through them.

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