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Short form has won

Updated: Jul 12, 2018

There is an endless array of content forms in the scholarly publishing world. The classic peer reviewed original research journal article. But there is also case reports and review articles

Then there are books, textbooks, monographs, and other longer multi-volume efforts. There is continuing education materials like classic CME articles in medicine. Videos, podcasts, webinars, blogs, and the list goes on.

They all have their niche and serve different purposes; some only slightly different from others.

But at the end of the day I think there has been one clear trend. Short form content is winning over longer content. In the world of 144-character attention span, shorter form is preferable across almost all demographics. In fact, I think I can say short form has won. I say this not with happiness but more as an observation.

Long form content holds a special place in scholarly publishing; a revered place. I do worry that it is being compartmentalized in people’s lives due to “busy schedules” or the many demands on readers, even on academics or researchers. Even for those that access weighty articles, there is not guarantee that the article is read, digested, and understood.

Is this a recent phenomenon? I guess it depends on what you mean by recent. I think this has been happening for some time but certainly our phones and social media has hastened it.

I think there is a fair chance the pendulum for some may start to swing the other way, but that may take a while. I am just as guilty as many, reading just the first paragraph of a long article, scanning or paging down to see what I can glean. I think most of us are complicit. My short blog post here of 344 words is an example!

If I am wrong, let me know. Or is it a good thing, leave a comment. But sometimes difficult and challenging topics cannot be explained or summarized in five paragraphs. So, I will root for long form (or maybe medium form) to rally back. Are you with me.


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