Let research on subterranean habitats resonate!
Mammola, S. and Martínez, A.
Whereas scientists interested in subterranean life typically insist that their research is exciting, adventurous, and important to answer general questions, this enthusiasm and potential often fade when the results are translated into scientific publications. This is because cave research is often written by cave scientists for cave scientists; thus, it rarely “leaves the cave”. However, the status quo is changing rapidly. We analysed 21,486 articles focused on subterranean ecosystems published over the last three decades and observed a recent, near-exponential increase in their annual citations and impact factor. Cave research is now more often published in non-specialized journals, thanks to a number of authors who are exploiting subterranean habitats as model systems for addressing important scientific questions. Encouraged by this positive trend, we here propose a few personal ideas for improving the generality of subterranean literature, including tips for framing broadly scoped research and making it accessible to a general audience, even when published in cave-specialized journals. Hopefully, this small contribution will succeed in condensing and broadcasting even further the collective effort taken by the subterranean biology community to bring their research “outside the cave”. Keywords Bibliometric, Cave science, Citation analysis, Impact Factor, Jargon, Model organism, Natural laboratory, Scientific progress, Scientific writing, Temporal trend in citations