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The great pages debate

IOP Publishing’s reception was a big hit last night, judging by the fact that the buffet had to be replenished several times — you can work up a huge appetite running back and forth between sessions for nearly 10 hours a day.

I spent most of my time talking to IOP referees and journal board members as well as the competition — two editors from Physical Review B (not sure how they got in!).

It seems that paper length — or the lack thereof — is a growing concern in the journals community. Authors are apparently under lots of pressure to summarize their work in four pages (I wonder where that comes from?).

One IOP referee told me that he often asks authors to add clarifying paragraphs to their papers, but the authors are reluctant to do so because they believe that publishers favour shorter papers. The referee was concerned that highly truncated papers are of little pedagogic use to newcomers to a field, and that brief papers are so focused on results that the purpose of the research and the underlying physics is sometimes lost.

On the other hand, longer papers are much more difficult to write and referee — with some folks expressing concerns that quality could slip if papers were longer.

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