Suggested reading: Should we get rid of the scientific paper?

[Part of an occasional series of articles I come across and that strike me as being of general interest. Suggestions welcome, using the Contact form on this site.]

by Stuart Ritchie

When was the last time you saw a scientific paper? A physical one, I mean. An older academic in my previous university department used to keep all his scientific journals in recycled cornflakes boxes. On entering his office, you’d be greeted by a wall of Kellogg’s roosters, occupying shelf upon shelf, on packets containing various issues of Journal of Experimental Psychology, Psychophysiology, Journal of Neuropsychology, and the like. It was an odd sight, but there was method to it: if you didn’t keep your journals organised, how could you be expected to find the particular paper you were looking for?

The time for cornflakes boxes has passed: now we have the internet. Having been printed on paper since the very first scientific journal was inaugurated in 1665, the overwhelming majority of research is now submitted, reviewed and read online. During the pandemic, it was often devoured on social media, an essential part of the unfolding story of Covid-19. Hard copies of journals are increasingly viewed as curiosities – or not viewed at all. … (continue at The Guardian)


  1. > Should we get rid of the scientific paper?
    > … Use the internet. We can change papers into mini-websites …

    At the beginning of COVID, often quoted by media, were the results of a study on how long the virus could live suspended in aerosols and on different surfaces (~18 to 72 hours). I was curious how those results would translate into the ‘real’ world so I looked up the paper.

    A ‘mini website’ would have been really nice, instead I had to look up 3 or 4 other papers before I could finally read the complete details of the methods used.

    But just having free access to those papers was nice in itself.

    Liked by 1 person


    1. Marc, yes, I think the idea of mini-web sites for papers is a good one. I still wouldn’t do without peer review though. having be an editor and a reviewer, you wouldn’t believe the amount of crap one catches…

      Liked by 1 person

    2. Massimo,

      > I still wouldn’t do without peer review though. having be an editor and a reviewer, you wouldn’t believe the amount of crap one catches…

      Oh! Absolutely. I think peer review is very useful and important.

      Liked by 1 person

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