Okay, before we begin this I would like to clarify that if you are not a researcher, Fuck off!
Sorry, I am kidding. You are welcome to continue reading. All I wanted to say was that if you are not into research, you probably may not buy my arguments and give negative comments and people into research are already sick of getting counter arguments, negative comments from supervisors, journal editors and reviewers.
Last novel that I read was “Midnight’s Children” by Sulman Rushdie and the one before that was “The Grapes of Wrath” by John Steinbeck. Both books were great. I especially liked Steinbeck’s and could not get over the feel of the book for next three days. But, both these books and many other great works like them are usually bulky. I started them, could not get real hang of things. Discontinued. Restarted and then could not keep them down till the last period. I love reading literary works but I would still prefer to read an research journal. Why? Here are my arguments:
I don’t have time (read I am lazy). I would usually take at least a week to read the whole book and to finally understand who fucked who. But, you take a research journal, begin with counting number of pages it has, then find out number of pages the references make, subtract count of pages with references from total number of pages and finally feel happy that you just read 2/3rd of the paper without actually reading a single word. Yay! what a progress. On the flip side, I would actually have to read the whole novel to be able to say that I actually read it.
There are no spoilers in scientific literature. In fact we love spoilers. Technically, a spoiler in scientific jargon is called an abstract of the paper. Sometimes the title itself narrates the whole story and we love it that way. On the other side, if someone tells you what a novel has in it you would swear to kill him right then. Also, titles of novels are just enticers and I have fallen for them many times only to realise that I was duped. The Grapes of Wrath is mentioned just once in the whole book and it forms the title of the book but it still doesn’t tell you that at the end….(Ha ha ha, I won’t tell you that. Don’t be lazy. Read it yourself).
Great literary works are usually not illustrated but you would rarely find a research journal article without a figure, chart, diagram or a table at least. In fact, highly rated journals prefer researchers provide them with fancy images. Fancier the images or more money it requires to get that image better are your chances being read. I sometimes don’t understand why does a research article need to have sentences when tables, illustrations and flowcharts say everything. After all, we are bu(la)sy.
Ever started a book and then wondered who the hell Joe was? A novel has so many characters that I sometimes lose their track and have to go back to find out who they were. I would have read the first Harry Potter almost three times if you count number of times I had to go back and re-read the pages to understand if it was Dumbledore who had beard. But, if you are reading a research article chances are that you already know the characters in it. Why on earth would you read a paper on JNK or Heisenberg if you did not know who or what they were? And even if you did not know them it would be mentioned clearly somewhere in short ‘introduction’ or ‘materials and methods’ and you do not actually have to flip tens of pages to find out that fish. Also, a research paper has very few characters so you would not loose track of them. For example, a paper on effects of metal contamination on fish would have two or three metals, a fish and three or four parameters. Scientists are usually too busy to meddle with more characters (you know what I mean).
You would usually read a book to enjoy it. But, you read a research paper to rip it apart. You are actually checking out what somebody else came up with, find a gap in knowledge and then you ride over his work to create your own with his last name within parenthesis in some line of some paragraph that most of your readers won’t even care to read unless they are really after that author. (Scientific papers usually would not have sentences as long as the one before this).
A research paper is the real explanation why a character in a novel or any other instrument would behave they way they behaved. A psychiatrist would tell you why John Grisham’s lawyer in The Street Lawyer gets into civil litigation and that would be discussed somewhere in some science journal. Umm, I take it that a scientist may not be able to justify the game of quidditch but science made it possible to film it in the movie. So, science wins.
If I need to read a book I might have to shell out at least $10 but to read a research paper all I need is to log on to my University account and download a copy. I don’t pay to read a research paper (I might be indirectly but it doesn’t hurt much).
Finally, if you shift your office or residence, you can easily burn all the printouts of research journals and feel the warmth of science or they might be occupying a tiny space left over by movies and episodes of The Big Bang Theory in your computer hard drive. But, I love to read real printed novels and they have an attached sentimental value. I cannot even see a small blemish or mark on my novels/books. So, read research papers instead and move on.
(N.B. Oh boy! what if you review literature novels? You have nothing to enjoy then. God help you.)