Binary 2D Ontology of Scientific Papers

Presentation (English)
Poor English and weak structure
Good English and strong structure
Important work or research
Quadrant II: Hidden treasures
Quadrant I: Seminal or solid work
Minor work or research
Quadrant IV: Time-wasters
Quadrant III: Distractions

This table shows a way of thinking about scientific papers. The ontology uses two dimensions to sort papers into four cells. Obviously it could be refined with more values than good versus poor and important versus minor and labels for the extra cells. Also, the reality is always much more complicated with many dimensions in play and with papers that are part this and part that for various dimensions. However the main advantage of the basic 2D and binary approach is clarity. In most cases the main cells will have natural labels, though I'm not sure I've selected the best labels for this one.

The "Content" dimension is about the quality of the paper where the top row means the science is important and accurate, while the bottom row means something is wrong there. Good science, especially seminal work, should be at the top, while errors or worse goes to the bottom.

The "Presentation" dimension is about how the material is presented, with "(English)" because my own focus is largely on the quality of the English, even though presentation is a much broader topic. If the presentation as good, if it's the kind of paper that has a structure and style that is worth imitating to present your scientific results, then it's positive on the right side. If not, it goes left.

The most interesting cell is probably upper left, the "Hidden treasures" of Quadrant II. This is what happens when good work is described badly. In the worst case, the person who did the work may lose deserved credit when someone else takes the same ideas, improves and refines them, and then gets more recognition for publishing a paper in the upper right corner. It's one of those LCD things. You need both strong content and a strong presentation for maximum impact.

Just for context and comparison and to give credit where it is due, here is the first such ontology as I remember receiving it from Professor Bill Martin at Rice University around 1975. The context was his introduction to sociology class, where the people are the entities being classified.

positive is up or right

The analysis is similar to the first table. In those days I considered myself primarily a ritualist who was indifferent to the goals, and even rejected the goal of making lots of money, but who regarded the rules as important. The conformist should be obvious enough, along with the rebel. The innovator is a bit complicated because serious innovators might be going so far against the rules as to become criminals even though they are pursuing the sanctioned goal of making lots of money. Dr Martin may have used a different label for that bottom right cell.