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Literature Forensics? Door to What Was Known but Now Forgotten

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Abstract:Science's all-consuming drive to make new discoveries often risks losing sight of what was already known at one time - that which already exists in the published literature. Inadequate attention to the published literature and insufficient time devoted to its mining and synthesis into new knowledge is a problem faced by all disciplines, especially highly interdisciplinary fields such as environmental forensics, whose knowledge base is fragmented across numerous disciplines. While the conduct of science applies principles of quality assurance to a wide array of its processes, how pervasive are quality controls designed to ensure that planned or ongoing research has not been undertaken before? Has sufficient energy been devoted to mining what has already been discovered and synthesizing it into a larger, more useful perspective? This paper touches on the liabilities associated with insufficient examination of an exponentially growing published literature ("literature forensics") and offers some suggestions for achieving a better balance between original work and capturing what has already been reported all essential to the growing responsibility of knowledge management. By lessening the importance of the published literature, are we asymptotically approaching a point where science may be preoccupied with publishing "new" findings while few have time to assimilate what has already been published?

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Citation:Daughton, C. G. Literature Forensics? Door to What Was Known but Now Forgotten. ENVIRONMENTAL FORENSICS 4(2):277-282, (2002).
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Contact: Chris Siebert - (702) 798-2234 or siebert.christopher@epa.gov
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Division: Environmental Sciences Division
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Branch: Environmental Chemistry Branch
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Product Type: Other Journl
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Published: 02/18/2002
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