A recent article in The Chronicle of Higher Education blames the increased number of published scientific articles on “an avalanche of low-quality research,” and claims that this avalanche is damaging academia. I agree that there are certainly problems associated with the large volume of published research, but is it truly the crisis that the article claims?
It becomes more difficult finding articles for a particular area of interest, as the arXiv feed for the limited area of high energy phenomenology dumps 20+ articles into my RSS reader every evening. This is not entirely unmanageable, as I mostly scan abstracts for anything related to my current work, and ignore the rest. Plus, it is 2010, and a search function can turn up a paper on any topic I desire. However, the number of articles makes it more difficult to keep abreast of more subfields, and tangentially-related, though helpful, articles in other fields go unnoticed. Cross-pollination of ideas has been essential throughout the history of science, but it is more difficult in this era of increased specialization. The increased number of papers in all areas can’t be helping matters.