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Less is more – even for experts

Additional information makes papers and articles often worse, not better





It is the presenter´s paradox: Figures, graphics, citations, footnotes or supplementary texts that experts like to integrate additionally into the original paper or article can worsen the overall quality instead of improve. This is due to 2 reasons: 1. Because readers base their evaluation on averaging and so 2. Since this type of additional information is often of minor quality as the original contribution judgements are then more likely to deteriorate.

Hence American researchers call for simplicity in the current edition of Journal of Management. They argue that in the last 25 years papers were getting 60% longer, with 60% more citations and three times for control variables which has made even abstract, hypotheses or discussions less readable as wished.

Connelly/Ketchen,jr/Zhou, „The Presenter´s Paradox: More is not Always Better“, in: Journal of Management, 1-10,

From the practice:

Less is more! And being a coach I do know that it takes sometimes courage to resist the temptation of additional supplements – at least to a high extent.

It takes courage not to overtake recos by peers, superiors or reviewers criticlessly, but to doublecheck first of all if they actually lead to an improvement. And even if this might be the case, then still one has to adjust the original version not to dilute the key messages. And it takes courage at a certain point in working on the paper or article to stop trying to improve again and again and again. It takes courage to simply let it be.

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