Is Anybody Listening?
When I was in my teens I built a small radio transmitter from individual components. It was my first "homebrew" project, and I was anxious to see whether I could connect with someone far away from my home in St. Louis. After hours on the air desperately sending "CQ CQ CQ this is WAØAJX" in Morse code, I gave up. I had raised no one. Despite my broadcasts, nobody, it seemed, was aware of my work. I set the project aside. A few months later I received a postcard from Mexico. Someone had picked up my signal, but I could not hear his response. Although I had succeeded in transmitting, the time frame and mechanism of response was not what I had expected.
What does this have to do cardiovascular research? In this issue of Circulation, an article by Ranasinghe and coworkers looks at "poorly cited articles" in peer-reviewed cardiovascular journals.1 The authors' premise is that articles that are infrequently cited are of limited impact and therefore "may reflect inefficiency and waste in the research enterprise." Their key assumption is that impact can be measured by citations within the first 5 years from publication: If your work is important, others will cite it when they report their own work, and this will happen within a few years of publication. This assumption may often be true, but is it also true that if no one immediately cites your work, it is unimportant? With their statement about "inefficiency and waste in the research enterprise," Ranasinghe et al seem to think so. But, just as I had to wait to learn that my meager radio signal had reached a faraway place, recognition of the importance of research may take longer than expected.
- Received March 19, 2015.
- Accepted March 20, 2015.