Minimal publishable unit

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Minimal publishable unit is the smallest amount of new scientific information that can be published using the traditional peer-reviewed scientific journals. It is typically a single experiment, study, or review that has a research question, original scientific work, at least descriptive hypothesis testing, and conclusions. It has to have an aspect of novelty, since e.g. a simple repetition of a published study by a new group is rarely considered publishable. Also, a separate part of a study, such as a novel research question, a study design without execution, or a new hypothesis without any related practical work are rarely considered publishable.

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The practice of minimal publishable unit is based on an assumption of distinct scientific articles as the means to distribute information. The practice developed to prevent an explosion of information-poor articles, as both the production of a (printed) article and also the reading of it are costly processes. The scientific community needs practices to increase the information content of scientific literature.

A completely new way of publishing scientific information has started to emerge since the concept of Wikipedia. It was understood that it is possible to publish scientific information even sentence by sentence in a wiki and still keep the information density high. The traditional system aims to conserve every piece of information ever published in the active literature base, and therefore it is crucial to limit the amount of and maintain the quality of published material before publishing. In contrast, the new concept is based on continuous editing where only the newest, synthesised information is on the visible surface. All previous versions are archived and available, but they are rarely of interest to other users than scientific historians or people who are interested in who should get the merit for first publishing a particular piece of information. An essential concept of the scientific publishing in a wiki system is "publish first, review later."