Analysis: Science used to be simpler

January 5, 2013

I guess most people have a feeling that life used to be simpler in the past. The other day it occurred to me that we researchers very often talk about how advanced our methods are, although simple methods are in many cases preferable.

So this morning I resorted to my usual strategy for analyzing such things, namely counting in Medline. More specifically I calculated for each year the percentage of publication titles that contain the words “simple” and “advanced”, respectively. In the plot below, the dots show the values for each year and the lines show five-year running averages thereof (click for PDF version):

simple_or_advanced

As can be clearly seen, life as a researcher was indeed simpler in the 50s and 60s.

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3 Responses to “Analysis: Science used to be simpler”


  1. [...] Analysis: Science used to be simpler [...]


  2. And you may want to look at the whole printed English corpus over the same period to control if it is a general trend or it is specific for Medline publications (it seems so).

    http://books.google.com/ngrams/graph?content=simple%2Cadvanced&year_start=1950&year_end=2000&corpus=15&smoothing=0&share=

  3. billytsalvo Says:

    I have read several just right stuff here. Certainly value bookmarking for revisiting.


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