Prolific non-research authors in high impact scientific journals: meta-research study

Not only researchers publish high-impact journals. While researchers struggle with peer review and low acceptance rates, journalistic papers are rapidly published and can be very influential. A meta-analysis, aimed to systematic evaluate non-research authors publishing, identifies 154 so-called “prolific authors” who had published 67,825 papers in the most prestigious journals of science or medicine at large. An in-depth evaluation of the 25 massively prolific authors, each with more than 700 publications, shows that very few of them have doctoral degrees in any subject matter. Nonetheless, many of them are highly-cited. The author agrees that science journalism is an essential activity aimed to make science it accessible to non-specialist readers, but he also underlines that competence and integrity should be assured. Besides, a research agenda could be useful to better understand how to optimize this specific kind of science writing.

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Recommended on behalf of EASE by Silvia Maina, Italy

Written by: John P. A. Ioannidis

Scientometrics 2023