Saturday, June 18, 2016

Page limits

An article from Ars Technica laments arbitrary page limits imposed by publishers and journals.

I think we've all had the situation where our manuscripts are 600 words over limit and we find ourselves trimming content or relegating important details to the Supplementary Information file. However, publishers do not make it easy to access Supplementary Information. For one, these important files should not be located behind paywalls. Second, it often takes a detective to sleuth out where to download the Supplementary Information file - sometimes it is buried on the main journal site, on ScienceDirect, or on a university database. Publishers should make this easier by providing a direct, shortened permanent link in the main manuscript. Finally, sometimes the Supplementary Information file is not made available until some time after the corrected proof or in-press main article is posted online.

Given that a majority of papers and journals are read online via PDF nowadays, arbitrary word limits should be reconsidered. Word limits do have a role in helping writers hone their discussion and write succinct, concise scientific prose, but this should not be at the expense of understanding the science behind a study.