A Case for Reviews

Christian Daughton's essay1 rightly criticizes scientists for being insufficiently familiar with research literature. I would extend Daughton's views by emphasizing the value of good review publications. Unfortunately, scientists have little incentive to write reviews, because reviews are typically undervalued by science administrators. Administrators value discovery and apparently do not appreciate the fact that writing a review can take as much or more time, effort, and creativity as doing the

W.r. (bill) Klemm
Apr 28, 2002
Christian Daughton's essay1 rightly criticizes scientists for being insufficiently familiar with research literature. I would extend Daughton's views by emphasizing the value of good review publications. Unfortunately, scientists have little incentive to write reviews, because reviews are typically undervalued by science administrators. Administrators value discovery and apparently do not appreciate the fact that writing a review can take as much or more time, effort, and creativity as doing the research for and writing a research report. I also value discovery and have done more than my share of bench research. But we should all remember that scientific discovery does not arise in a vacuum.

Many bench scientists cannot write good reviews, because they do not have the necessary skills in writing, critical thinking, insight, or creativity. The best review papers are often written by senior, experienced people. Such experience brings a breadth and depth of understanding that cannot be...

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