"Original work" and creative reviews

Burton, R.F. (2009) "Original work" and creative reviews. Medical Hypotheses, 73(6), p. 1080. (doi: 10.1016/j.mehy.2009.05.019)

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Publisher's URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.mehy.2009.05.019


In his editorial Erren [1] addressed the issue that many academics attach more value to 'original work' as a publication category than to others, such as 'review' which, by implication, must be non-original. To his well-presented and convincing arguments I would like to add a few comments on the subject of reviews. In 1992 Ignatius [2] bemoaned the large number of reviews being written - for example, about one in every eight articles published in one particular (visual) field. Small wonder that some journals now only accept reviews written on invitation! But does that policy, if inflexible, automatically exclude creative reviews that go beyond mere summarizing in order to present original hypotheses? I responded to Ignatius by pointing out the need for articles of that kind, noting too that "some editors discourage such synthesis in 'experimental' papers" [3]. Many of my own papers have drawn on numerical data published by other people, with the data serving to suggest or test original ideas. On a fairly random basis, some of the resulting papers were designated "reviews" and some were not. Cheaply extracting new meaning from costly, hard-won data is surely to be encouraged. Published papers may give part of the quantitative information one needs, but omit crucial details that were irrelevant to their authors' themes. Sometimes these could be as simple as an average or a correlation coefficient. There is a potential dilemma for authors here: should one clutter one's account with seemingly superfluous numerical details on the off-chance that someone else might find them useful? The journal's referees might object anyway. Publication of 'supplementary material' on the internet is the obvious solution, provided that the journal provides that facility. Raw data can be especially useful.

Item Type:Articles
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Burton, Dr Richard
Authors: Burton, R.F.
Subjects:R Medicine > R Medicine (General)
College/School:College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences
Journal Name:Medical Hypotheses
Journal Abbr.:Med Hypotheses
ISSN (Online):1532-2777
Published Online:21 June 2009

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