Scientific publishing seems to be moving in several contradictory directions. Against these conflicting trends, EMBO reports seeks to re-assert the importance of the short-format article, carrying a single key message of ground-breaking significance. So writes the journal’s Editor, Howie Jacobs (EMBO reports 10, 935; 2009). Against a background of screeds of scientific articles, blogs and other commentary available on the internet, and vast mountains of supplementary information and data, the short-format of EMBO reports is increasingly popular. From the Editorial:
“Our philosophy is that science proceeds in steps. Each major conceptual advance towards a complete understanding—whether of a macromolecule, an organelle, the cell or the organism—should be documented properly, judged on its merits and made rapidly available for the community. In a fast-moving field such as molecular biology, erroneous findings inevitably make their way into print; however, any resulting damage is minimized if knowledge is parcelled into manageable chunks. When too many different findings are bundled together, valid results can be ‘contaminated’ by their association with those that prove to be flawed, and significant errors might be overlooked. More importantly, crucial discoveries should not require sophisticated data-mining tools to be accessible.”
The Editorial goes on to define the key features the editors look for in a “short report” – encapsulation of the key message in a single sentence, novelty, significance for the field, and broad interest to the molecular biology community. Those who think their work fits these criteria and are considering submitting to EMBO reports will find the Editorial a helpful guide.