misc: Shortest Research Paper in History


All academics should strive for brevity as well as comprehensibility.  The shortest academic paper in history was written by Dennis Upper in 1974. Upper, like many academics, suffered from writers block. Upper decided to apply the scientific method to the issue of writer’s block to see if he could treat it in himself. Unfortunately, that meant combating writer’s block by, well, writing about it. His paper “The unsuccessful self-treatment of a case of ‘writer’s block'” is completely blank, save for the title, journal, references, and comments by a reviewer. The study was published without revision in distinguished Journal of Applied Behavioural Analysis in 1974. It is officially the shortest scientific paper ever published.

The reviewer’s comments were well received: . “I have studied this manuscript very carefully with lemon juice and X-rays and have not detected a single flaw in either design or writing style,” wrote the anonymous reviewer. “I suggest it be published without revision. Clearly it is the most concise manuscript I have ever seen — yet it contains sufficient detail to allow other investigators to replicate Dr. Upper’s failure. In comparison with the other manuscripts I get from you containing all that complicated detail, this one was a pleasure to examine. Surely we can find a place for this paper in the Journal — perhaps on the edge of a blank page.”

Read about more blissfully short papers here: https://curiosity.com/topics/the-shortest-scientific-paper-ever-published-literally-contained-no-words-curiosity/