Highly read on www.pnas.org in July
Biologists have a reputation for avoiding mathematics, and a study of citation rates shows that this is not misplaced.
Tim Fawcett and Andrew Higginson at the University of Bristol, UK, examined whether the inclusion of equations affected the citation rates of papers published in 1998 in three leading ecology and evolution journals. The authors found that papers received 28% fewer citations overall for each additional equation per page of the main text; for citations in experimental papers, this rose to 35%.
The duo recommends that researchers use equations sparingly in their main article text to ensure that their ideas reach a wide audience.