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How long does a scientific paper need to be? Do length limits have a detrimental effect on scientific reporting?

A blog this week by the London School of Economics and Political Science questions the current policy of many journals to restrict manuscript word count.

In principle, length limits should help with the accessibility and readability of a scientific paper. But in practice these limits often achieve the opposite effect. Now that journals are becoming online-only, the author of the blog – Dorothy Bishop – argues that lengths limits are far less relevant. She states: “Yes, we should encourage authors to be succinct, but not so succinct that scientific communication is compromised“.

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