Article titles are more important than your name

A webpage or CV with a list of publications serves two purposes. A useful one: to help readers discover papers related to one that interested them. And a less altruistic one: to say ‘Hey, look at how many publications I have’. These days, the latter is somewhat necessary, but shouldn’t overshadow the former. Furthermore, discovering related papers should be an easy task, but too often isn’t.

Too many publication lists that I come across these days obscure the title—surely the most important part of the citation—by bracketing it with the authors’ names and journal details. While this form is necessary for a reference list in a paper, it makes no sense in a CV or personal webpage.

Consider a the following list of references for J. S. Smith:

  • Smith, J. S., D. R. Thomson K. H. Matthews (2018), Interpretation of the H-J-K group using broadband interferometry, J. Interfer., 48, 534–542, doi:10.1029.jsci.01.2018
  • Jacobs, S. P., P. N. Notting, J. S. Smith (2017) Classification of integrated, time-invariant, modular, seismic images, J. modulation. 21, 111–125, doi:10.1010.modul.122017
  • Notting, P. N., Jacobs, S. P., J. S. Smith, N. L. Brooks (2017) Undulation of the expectant value when evaluating Gibbs functions asynchronously, J. Geochem. Sys. 11, 284–286, doi:10.1029.UOTEVWE.17

Compare this with the same list with some simple but obvious tweaks:

  • Interpretation of the H-J-K group using broadband interferometry. 
    Smith, J. S., D. R. Thomson K. H. Matthews (2018),
    J. Interfer., 48, 534–542, doi:10.1029.jsci.01.2018
  • Classification of integrated, time-invariant, modular, seismic images.
    Jacobs, S. P., P. N. Notting, J. S. Smith (2017)
    J. modulation. 21, 111–125, doi:10.1010.modul.122017
  • Undulation of the expectant value when evaluating Gibbs functions asynchronously.
    Notting, P. N., Jacobs, S. P., J. S. Smith, N. L. Brooks (2017)
    J. Geochem. Sys. 11, 284–286, doi:10.1029.UOTEVWE.17

It is now much easier to peruse the list, which for many scientists may be many pages. Furthermore, it is now immediately obvious that the hypothetical J. S. Smith uses a scientific jargon generator for the titles of his articles.

The second list format is similar to that used by Google Scholar, often my go-to location for finding work published by other scientists. Scholar, however, has its flaws: (i) many authors don’t have a profile, (ii) being first-author is given as much weight as, say, 20th author, and (iii) peer-reviewed articles are often mixed with citations from the grey literature (abstracts, theses, technical reports, etc).

As evident from my own list, I believe citations should

  • be ordered by relevance, which for most intents and purposes equates to author position
  • be clearly divided depending on type (peer-review/proceedings/theses)
  • provide a hyperlink straight to the paper (why it takes two clicks, not one, in Google Scholar is beyond me)

 

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Author: hugke729

PhD student in physical oceanography

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