Literature review?

Why do so many people write literature reviews with laundry lists of tangentially related papers? When I read a paper, no sentence annoys me more than:

‘AA(2004), BB(1990), and ZZ(2005) all study a related topic.’

Edit that crap out, or actually say something real about the work and how it relates to yours.

I read that sentence in about half the papers I review.

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2 responses to “Literature review?

  1. dear V:

    I can tell the reason, I’m afraid.

    Trying to do two things.
    1. Influence editor of journal to send the paper to one of those people cited.
    2. Influence one of those people cited (after #1 is successful) to LIKE the paper. (“Sure, it sucks, but it CITES me, so how bad can it really be?”)

    Not going to change, I expect. As editor (of Public Choice ), I sometimes ask authors to cut some, after the paper is accepted, but of course by then it has accomplished its object of getting the piece through the referee process.


  2. I guess I should have added that the tangential literature cite:

    ‘AA(2004), BB(2004), and Vegreville(2001) work on similar topics.’

    is a good one. 🙂

    Especially since cite counts are used as a way to measure influence.

    But when I read papers long after they are in print, I notice that the irrelevant cites simply slow me down and annoy me. Cutting after refereeing would work. I have started to do that myself on later rounds.

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