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Case study

ScienceDirect Pre-1995 Content Are Old But Not Obsolete

About Professor Iain Clarke

Iain Clarke, Professor and the head of the Department of Physiology at the Faculty of Medicine, Nursing & Health Sciences, Monash University, Australia.

lain Clarke is a professor and the head of the Department of Physiology at the Faculty of Medicine, Nursing & Health Sciences, Monash University, Australia. He graduated from Massey University, New Zealand with a Bachelor of Agricultural Science in 1971 and a Master in Agricultural Science (1st class) in reproductive physiology in 1973. He then obtained his Ph.D. at Edinburgh University, Scotland in 1976, having studied endocrinology and behaviour. To date, Professor Clarke has published 475 research papers and has received The Woodward Prize for Excellence in Research in Neuroscience in 1992, a Senior Fulbright Award in 1997, the Asia and Oceania Medal of The Endocrine Society (United Kingdom) in 2001 and the TransPacific Lectureship, Endocrine Society (USA) in 2004. Most recently, he was the recipient of The Geoffrey Harris Memorial Award of the International Federation of Neuroendocrinology (2009), the Ernst Knobil Prize from the Physiological Society (2013), the Harris prize from the European Society of Endocrinology (2013) and the President's Award of the American Society of Animal Science (2014).

“I have met young scholars who are not familiar with earlier literature and they think that older works are not as good as newer ones. That is simply not true. Many old scientific papers were very well-written, applied the same scientific rigour, and their processes were just as valid as today’s experiments. They can be very valuable to any researcher.”

Iain Clarke

Professor Iain Clarke is a firm believer that older articles are just as useful to the scientific and research fields of today as newer ones. For one, he has already cited as many as 140 Elsevier’s Pre[1]1995 scientific articles in the journal papers that he has published from 2010 to 2015, and there is every reason to believe that he will continue to do so. As a researcher, Professor Clarke began his seminal studies on the measurement of hypothalamic secretion of GnRH in sentient animals in 1982, and since then, he has contributed extensively to the field of reproductive neuroendocrinology. His laboratory expanded to embrace all many other aspects of neuroendocrinology and he currently devotes 50% of his research effort to the study of brain mechanisms that regulate food intake and energy expenditure. There are two main divisions in Professor Clarke’s laboratory; reproduction and metabolic Neuroendocrinology, the latter being in association with Dr Belinda Henry. “Most of the work done in the 70s and 80s was in the fields of reproduction and sex behaviour, which were my area of research at that time. This work is reviewed in Interface between metabolic balance and reproduction in ruminants: Focus on the hypothalamus and pituitary published by Elsevier, of which I am the sole author. In this major review, I referenced many of the older scientific papers, which are still relevant today,” says Professor Clarke.

Older Scientific Journals Demonstrate As Much Scientific Rigour As Recent Publications.

Besides scientific journals, Professor Clarke also makes use of pre-1995 articles in his grant applications. He feels that it is imperative that a full body of knowledge in his field is presented when applying for funding so that he will not repeat work that has already been done. “I have come across recent papers that report on experiments that were done some 50 years ago. People are actually doing experiments that have already been performed! That’s why I think it is vital for researchers to be well-informed about past experiments.” He also thinks that younger researchers often have the wrong perception about older scientific literature. “I have met young scholars who are not familiar with earlier literature and they think that older works are not as good as newer ones. That is simply not true. Many older scientific papers were very well-written, applied the same scientific rigour, and their processes were just as valid as today’s experiments. They are very valuable to any researcher.”

Online Database Saves Time and Space

Prior to ScienceDirect Pre-1995 Content, Professor Clarke was already archiving articles that were relevant to his research. He would accumulate hard copies of the data or journal articles, photocopy the information he needed, and file them accordingly. However, space became a big problem as his collection grew. So he turned to digital platforms, where he now amasses his collection in a digital repository in his university. “Today, I already have a sizeable collection of 13 folders and 2,437 files. And I still have eight filing cabinets full of papers and articles, filed according to author and subject, which I have made accessible to my students. If researchers and students are able to have access to online databases like ScienceDirect, I believe it would be a lot easier for everybody in their research process.”