Archive by category | Quality and value

What the job of an editor is all about

In a comment to an earlier Peer to Peer post, ‘Regular Scientist’ takes issue with Nature Cell Biology’s definition of a good report, writing (slightly edited for length): the journal sometimes asks the authors to undertake many experiments even before sending a paper to review. Not strangely, papers in Nat Cell Biology, even small reports, contain many Supplementary Figures (up to 20, I´ve seen). I miss the old days where publications were for sending a very interesting result so you could extend it and discuss its importance for your field. Nat Cell Biology’s system is undermining research efforts in the authors´ labs, which have to dedicate an enormous effort to provide many additional experiments that don´t even add much to the concept.  Read more

To many, blog posts are the face of science

Continuing the discussion of the relative contributions of blogs and the peer-reviewed literature to scientific understanding, I’m highlighting another reaction to the two Nature Geoscience Commentaries presenting different perspectives.  Read more

Sharing insights with researchers

The two Nature Geoscience Commentaries expressing opposing views on blogging’s role in science research communication have been much discussed in the blogosphere (see Climate Feedback blog, for example.). One discussion took place at RealClimate blog, where Gavin Schmidt’s post about his Nature Geoscience view on how science blogs and traditional peer-review intersect has attracted more than 100 online comments from climate scientists and others.  Read more

Role of blogs in communicating scientific knowledge

Scientists know much more about their field than is ever published in peer-reviewed journals. Blogs can be a good medium with which to disseminate this tacit knowledge, according to Gavin Schmidt of the NASA Goddard Institute of Space Studies Columbia University, and co-founder of, in a Commentary in the April issue of Nature Geoscience (1, 208; 2008). Dr Schmidt asks “why read a blog when you can go directly to the scientific literature? Unfortunately, access to new findings in the traditional way is harder than it should be. Many technical papers are behind pay-walls, which make it impractical and expensive for unaffiliated individuals to read them. More importantly, however, even when papers are freely available, they often do not provide the insight expected.”  … Read more

Nature Neuroscience joins neuroscience peer-review consortium

Nature Neuroscience is joining a consortium of journals that enables reviews to be transferred from one journal to another, while allowing authors, referees and editors to control their degree of participation in the system flexibly. The reasons for the decision are explained in this month’s (April) Editorial (Nat. Neurosci. 11, 375; 2008). Briefly, in January, a group of editors, supported by the Society for Neuroscience, implemented a system for transfer of submitted manuscripts between journals that allows voluntary participation by authors, referees and editors, known as the Neuroscience Peer Review Consortium. This consortium reduces the overall reviewing workload of the community by allowing authors to continue the initial review process when their paper moves from one consortium journal to another, once the paper has been rejected or withdrawn from the first journal.  Read more

Nature Nanotechnology on reviewer performance statistics

How many papers does the typical researcher review in a year? How long do they take? And why do they do it? For the answers, read the Editorial in this month’s (March) issue of Nature Nanotechnology, “Who’d be a referee?” (3, 119; 2008). The Editorial reports some of the findings of the recent Publishing Research Consortium report on peer-review (previously discussed at Peer to Peer), whose survey revealed that the “average review takes about 8.6 hours (with a median of about 5 hours) and is completed within 3–4 weeks, although there are significant differences between the four broad subject areas covered by the survey: in the physical sciences and engineering, for instance, the average (mean) is 10.4 hours, compared with 6.3 for clinical researchers.  Read more

Searching for duplicate publication

Much attention is being given to a Commentary in the current issue of Nature (Nature 451, 379-399; 2008), A tale of two citations, some of which I have attempted to encapsulate in this Nautilus post, for those interested. Although the issues immediately concern a possible increase in duplicate publication and plagiarism, as detected by software systems and database searches, peer reviewers are an integral part of the check/balance procedures that journals use. For this reason, I thought it well worth highlighting here the comment by Brian Derby at the Nature Network forum currently discussing these questions. Part of Dr Derby’s response:  … Read more