These posts feature short posts about things that annoy me, mainly in scientific publications but also, sometimes in general. To start things off here is a little something about reporting plant growth stages.
Plant phenology – the need for precision
What is a two-week old bean plant? It all depends; what temperature is it growing at? What cultivar is it? What light regime is it growing under? All in all, a pretty lousy description and not very useful if you wanted to repeat the experiment. Yet statements similar to this are often seen in scientific papers. What the reader needs to know is how many leaves the plant has i.e. a precise definition of its phenological stage. Plant phenological stage has a huge impact on insect performance and behaviour. There is no excuse for not being exact, most economically important plants have published growth stages, you just need to look for them. If they don’t exist then define them in your paper. You know it makes sense.