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June 1, 2004

The Incomplete Bibliography: Notes of a Bibliography Watcher

Arch Surg. 2004;139(6):661. doi:10.1001/archsurg.139.6.661

If you wish to do an in-depth study of an individual, review the bibliographies of his or her major or not-so-major publications. The length, makeup, and selection of citations may tell you much more about the psychological and social aspects of the author than other more conventional sources, such as his or her spouse, partners, or colleagues. The dean of the medical school at which the author is on the faculty is not on this list, because the dean will already have gained an impression of the individual from his or her demands for space, promotion, recognition, joint appointments, committee appointments, and other pushings and shovings among the faculty. Is the incomplete bibliography poor scholarship or sour grapes?