Does the quality of writing influence the impact of scientific papers?

1. June 2021
How to create successful scientific texts?

The importance and quality of a new discovery presented in a scientific article is often evaluated by the number of its citations. It is unclear, however, in how far the quality of the writing influences the impact of scientific articles. Since the impact factor is of vital importance not only for the advance of science, but also for the career of scientists, we want to explore whether a non-scientific factor – the quality of the writing – influences the reach and popularity of scientific articles.

Our hypothesis is that an article that is easy and enjoyable to read is read and cited more often than an article hard to follow and written in a less attractive style. To put this hypothesis to test we will follow a high-throughput machine learning approach to explore the degree of readability and coherence of the text. Our project aims to stimulate an informed discussion about the significance of the quality of writing for the creation of successful scientific texts.

This project started as a Marsilius Project together with Vera Nünning, Heidelberg University. It continued as a HITS Lab project among the three and was terminated in April 2021.

Frauke Gräter (MBM)
Michael Strube (NLP)

Florian Franz (MBM)

Scopus software tool

Online workshop “I’m a scientist, not a writer!”, 2 December 2020.

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