Stupid journal boilerplate

DSC_0423-boilers On of the things I used to hate when I was in the game was the stupid boilerplate you were supposed to pad articles with. Since I also discover that RR has 3k posts and I only have 1k733 I thought I'd try to close the gap by a short whinge. Here's an example from Fifteen years of ocean observations with the global Argo array, Riser et al., Nature Climate Change 6, 145–153 (2016) doi:10.1038/nclimate2872

More than 90% of the heat energy accumulation in the climate system between 1971 and the present has been in the ocean. Thus, the ocean plays a crucial role in determining the climate of the planet. Observing the oceans is problematic even under the most favourable of conditions. Historically, shipboard ocean sampling has left vast expanses, particularly in the Southern Ocean, unobserved for long periods of time. Within the past 15 years, with the advent of the global Argo array of profiling floats, it has become possible to sample the upper 2,000 m of the ocean globally and uniformly in space and time...

Thus, the ocean plays a crucial role in determining the climate of the planet... We already know that, ditto quite a bit of the rest. You don't need to tell us again. Anyone too ignorant to know that will get nothing out of this paper; it is just a pile of wasted electrons. And this is in Nature, which nominally likes short pithy stuff.

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Given that it's Nature (albeit one of their specialty journals, not the flagship), the editors are likely to want something whose significance is apparent to people outside the field. Thus Nature articles tend to be a bit more Captain Obvious than most. But every field has its journal boilerplate. When I use data from a satellite, I have to give a brief description of the satellite orbit and instrumentation for the benefit of both potential readers (if there are that many) who are unfamiliar with the satellite in question. I'm sure other fields have their boilerplate which sounds similarly inane to specialists in that field.

By Eric Lund (not verified) on 01 Feb 2016 #permalink

Aren't such progress papers pretty common? That was my impression anyway.

By Steve Bloom (not verified) on 01 Feb 2016 #permalink

I'd probably second Eric's comment.

I used to loath and detest boilerplating, especially when it is included so that it can increase the reference count and/or be referenced in its own turn in the future. However, since participating in the blogosphere over the last decade or so I've come to appreciate the handiness of some well-placed boilerplate, so I'm a little more relaxed about it these days.

By Bernard J. (not verified) on 02 Feb 2016 #permalink

"Thus, the ocean plays a crucial role in determining the climate of the planet…"

Of course some would suggest that all papers on climate change need to explicitly state in the abstract whether the change is primarily anthropogenic and hence the consensus on this question is not 97%. ;o)

By Dikran Marsupial (not verified) on 04 Feb 2016 #permalink

That paper is worse than that!

It is an attempt by oceanographers to justify the millions of dollars which have been spent trying to detect abrupt climate change. They are locked in the paradigm that the Younger Dryas was caused by the THC halting. Correlation is not causation, and the THC halted because the Arctic sea ice spread south. The THC halting did not cause the sea ice to spread south.

By A non e-mouse (not verified) on 06 Feb 2016 #permalink