Advice to a young scientist

If you want to get published, then heed this advice:
Cite your friends at least once and your enemies twice,
The editor three times, yourself at least four,
And write in a style that’s intended to bore.
If you want to get published, here’s what you must do
Above all: don’t come up with anything new.

from Devine, B. & Cohen, J.E. (1992) Absolute Zero Gravity: Science Jokes, Quotes, and Anecdotes.

Incidentally, it seems the same is true for grant application, as a recent Nature comment “Research grants: Conform and be funded” reports. Is that the reason why we are “reinventing the wheel?” 😉

2 thoughts on “Advice to a young scientist

    • I agree, by and large people get to the point faster and with fewer words than, say, 50 years ago, which is good.

      On the other hand, if you read older papers, it seems to me that there is less of a tendency to overstate results, suggest applications that will never come, etc., but maybe I’m idealizing because the papers one still reads nowadays are of course the good ones.

      Btw., a great article on that is Woodford, F.P. (1967) Sounder thinking through clearer writing. Science, 156, 743.


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