Everybody Writes, Nobody Reads

May it be then a reward to all the Interface authors to know that there is a crowd of people who read their work.

May it be then a reward to all the Interface authors to know that there is a crowd of people who read their work.

An article by Interface Co-Editor Petr Vanysek in the latest issue of the publication.

I am happy to report that people read Interface magazine. Just the other day I received a long letter commenting on the usefulness of the topical articles, this one specifically detailing the issue dealing with ionic liquids. The message of the letter was that the reviews in Interface are just as useful as the summary articles in peer-reviewed publications. Another reader, reacting to the side remark I made in my recent editorial about opening a dog kennel, wanted to unload his German shepherds on me. Yet another letter mentioned the Classics column and how nice it was to read recollections about scientists, written by other scientists and colleagues.

Interface does not have an officially gauged impact factor and we do not have a good measure of how well and thoroughly this magazine is read. Still, we like to hear that it is a useful medium for the members, the advertisers, and anybody else who may follow what shows up in our quarterly.

Publishing is a funny business. It was Michael Faraday, the spiritual mentor of all electrochemists, who once wrote this advice for scientific success: work, finish, publish. There are, you see, two more parts to publishing and they precede the actual act of publishing. The contemporary methods of success evaluation, the rubrics, as the assessment gurus like to call them, focus mostly on the documented last part of Faraday’s recipe for success. After all, unless the work is written up and others can read about it, it has little value. And published papers are so easy to count. Add to the count an impact factor multiplier and you have a straightforward assessment tool. The higher the impact factor of the journal, the higher the perceived quality of the article, and the higher the rewards bestowed on the author once the activity reports are turned in. And this also works in reverse, for an article in a no-impact factor publication, of which Interface is one, brings little joy to evaluators and little credit to the authors. Lucky are the few whose departments do not embrace the assessment rubrics, lucky are those who feel that they have enough papers in journals with high impact factors, and lucky us who get to read the well-written contributions to Interface by colleagues who care enough and volunteer their time and writing skills to us, without earning a publication with an impact factor in return.

Read the rest.


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