Category Archives: publishing

“Peer Community In”: Beyond the traditional publishing model (guest post)

I recently learned about Peer Community In (PCI), a new system for reviewing and recommending preprints. I’m really intrigued.  It’s true that I’m an old fuddy-duddy who’s on record as saying that we often exaggerate the problems with the status quo, and as not liking to think outside the box.  And yet there are good reasons to think it might be good to have other ways beyond traditional journals to disseminate science.  We should experiment with a variety of new systems, and PCI seems like one well worth exploring.  Read on to learn more!

What follows is a guest post by Denis Bourguet (denis.bourguet@inra.fr), Benoit Facon (benoit.facon@inra.fr), Thomas Guillemaud (thomas.guillemaud@inra.fr), and Ruth Hufbauer (hufbauer@colostate.edu).  DB, BF, and TG are the founders of PCI, and RH is a colleague and member of the board of PCI Evol Biol.

We believe that the current system of publishing with academic journals suffers from four crucial problems. First, Continue reading

A month of spamvitations

Photo:  Wall of SPAM © Lee Coursey via flickr.com CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Esteemed contributor.  Revered speaker.  Renowned researcher. You get these e-mails too: invitations to publish papers in fake* journals, to join fake editorial boards, to speak at fake conferences.  I’d certainly known I got a lot of them; but that was unquantified, because I usually just grin at their clumsy phrasing and then delete them without further thought.  “What”, I thought, “would happen if I kept track of them all for a month?  Would I learn anything?  Could I milk a blog post out of it?” Continue reading

We praise originality, but we don’t seem to value it

Image: Citation impact vs. originality, for 55 of my own publications.  See text for explanation.

 Warning: a bit cynical.

Last week I filled out a grad-school recommendation form for a terrific undergraduate student.  Among other things, it asked me to rate her “originality”.  That got me thinking.

We tell each other often that we admire scientists who are original thinkers. Originality is often an explicit criterion in manuscript assessment, in tenure assessment, even at science fairs.  The related idea of “novelty” is a major criterion in many (if not most) grant applications. Herman Melville might almost have been speaking for scientists when he said “It is better to fail in originality than to succeed in imitation*”.

So we praise originality. But do we value it?  I’m skeptical.  Continue reading

Persistence in publishing: the Tubthumping strategy

Image: Asim Saeed via flickr.com CC-BY-2.0

 This is a joint post by Steve Heard and Andrew Hendry (crossposted here on Andrew’s blog). 

Another week, another rejection, right?  If you’ve been in science long at all, you almost certainly have a bulging file of rejections for grants, manuscripts, fellowships, and even jobs. Here, for example, is Steve’s truly impressive job-rejection history; and here’s a previous analysis of Andrew’s manuscript rejections.

We were part of a recent Twitter exchange that began when Steve tweeted in celebration of submitting a manuscript – to its third different journal:

Continue reading

To sign or not to sign: what the Replies taught me

So, last week Meghan Duffy and I put up what amounted to point-counterpoint blog posts.  I sign most of my reviews, while Meg doesn’t sign most of hers; but neither of us is quite sure that’s right.  As I’d hoped, we got a bunch of good comments in the Replies on each blog.  Here are a few things I learned from them: Continue reading

Why aren’t we agitating for open-access groceries?

Photo: Onions, own work.  The photo, not the onions, I mean.

Warning: very strange thought experiment.

Calls for us to make our literature open-access have become a routine thing, and many of them are quite impassioned.  I’m thinking, for example, of folks who announce that they will only review for open-access journals, or even those who announce (bizarrely) that they will only read open-access papers.  There’s a widespread belief that open-access literature is not just a social good (which it surely is) but an important social good, perhaps even a critical social good*.

But there’s something odd here.  It isn’t the argument itself (which we certainly ought to be having); instead, it’s where we stop making it.  Because you know what else ought to be open-access?  Groceries.

Yes, I know that sounds ridiculous; but there are actually some non-trivial parallels.  Stay with me for a bit. Continue reading

Some journal covers - Nature, American Naturalist, Entomologia Experimentalis et Applicata

Why I still list (and pay attention to) journal names

I’ve seen half a dozen posts and essays arguing that we should stop publicizing, listing, or paying attention to the names of the journals our papers are published in.  The argument goes along these lines*.  First, we should judge the worth of papers based on their content, not based on where they were published.  Second, when filtering papers – deciding which ones to read – we should filter them based on what they’re about (as communicated by their titles and abstracts), not by the journal they’re in.

This argument is, I think, a logical extension of arguments against the impact factor.  I think those arguments are overdone, and I think this one is too. Continue reading