Review Journals

From: David Goodman <dgoodman_at_phoenix.Princeton.EDU>
Date: Tue, 12 Jun 2001 09:22:17 +0100

The last few years has seen the remarkable success of a number of
review journals from different publishers: The "Current Opinion in ..."
and the "Trends in ..." series from Current Biology (now Elsevier), and
now the Nature reviews (at a somewhat lower level of intellectual

These titles are typically directed more at graduate students than at
faculty, and therefore are sometimes ignored by those librarians who
rely only on faculty input. But anyone who measures actual use will
observe the very high use of these titles.

There seems no sign that this growth is leveling off. As science
becomes continualy more specialized, the need for less specialized
publications also increases. The same holds true at another level:
science books aimed at the scientifically literate layman. In spite of
all predictions of growing scientific illiteracy, quite a number of
such titles are very successful, as good ones deserve to be.

Obviously the growth of scientific knowledge depends primarily upon
original work, not secondary publications. But the education of new
scientists, and the appreciation and support of science by the general
public, depends on these works.

I must admit my difficulty in following Newt Gingrich's's prose, but I
do agree with what seems to be his conclusion about the need for
general science understanding at all levels of sophistication, even the
more superficial. I do not see, though, why Albert Henderson thinks
there is a shortage; to me, there seems a welcome abundance.

One of the reasons people write (and teach) is the pleasure they get
from explaining what they know to those who are less knowledgeable.
Research and teaching do have an inherent connection; learning and
teaching are not separable.

David Goodman, Princeton University Biology
Library 609-258-3235
Received on Wed Jan 03 2001 - 19:17:43 GMT

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