The Autopsy of Chicken Nuggets Reads “Chicken Little”

The title is fantastic but it is not mine sadly. I stole it from a paper by deShazo, Bigler and Skipworth. Thanks to them for that. The paper analysed chicken nuggets from fast food outlets. Spoiler alert: they don’t contain a lot what of would be conventionally regarded as chicken meat, although most of it did in the past belong to a chicken. Somewhere on a chicken’s body. Somewhere.

Anyway, the paper is on what is called Altmetric‘s top 100 papers for 2013. This is basically a list of what they reckon are the top 100 scientific papers of 2013, as judged basically by the amount of social media attention they gathered – tweets, blog mentions etc. It is an eclectic list, to say the least, weighted heavily towards things of interest outside the narrow world of academia, e.g., chicken nuggets. This way of assessing science is a bit weird. Not sure its going to identify the next Einstein or Dirac. It is all a bit ephemeral.

Also, the titles on the list do rather bear out the comments of an excellent blog post Patrick Dunleavy on how to choose a good title for a scientific paper, and why it is important but often messed up by otherwise smart people. I am not sure reading it will get you on 2014’s list, but he makes some good points, and it is a shame to spend a long time doing good work, writing a paper then not think about the title.

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