Wednesday, June 18
I'm always thrilled to encounter a seminal article which compactly rearranges my thinking about a particular subject. I'm less thrilled when I encounter it in its fourth or fifth incarnation in journals and anthologies, mutated only slightly by cut-and-paste necrophilia.
It's one thing to use journal articles to work on different aspects of a single theme or issue, and another to basically regurgitate the same article repeatedly. This republication isn't usually done with dishonest intent--once a single influential article appears in print, the author often finds himself or herself fending off multiple invitations to publish something very similar to the original. However it happens, this increasingly common kind of publication adds little shelf life to the journals themselves: no need to have six issues of various journals with approximately the same content.
* The Cliff Notes for Scholars Too Busy to Read About the Latest Thing article.
There are scholars--and journals--that specialize in publishing articles which do little more than summarize (and cannibalize) a number of recent arguments on some hot topic without adding much in the way of original analysis to those debates. This kind of synthesis article is typically choked with citations and offers few insights on its subject matter. It therefore has little or no lasting value.