Sunday, July 12, 2015

Increasing Requirements for Publication

From "Accelerating Scientific Publication in Biology":

Somewhat tongue – in - cheek, let’s imagine a contemporary editorial decision on the 1953 Watson and Crick papers (assuming that they were submitted together):

“Dear Jim and Francis: Your two papers have now been seen by three referees. Based upon these reviews, I regret to say that we cannot offer publication at this time. While your model is very appealing, referee 3 finds that it is somewhat speculative and premature for publication. Indeed, your model proposing a semi-conservative replication of DNA raises many obvious questions. As two of the referees point out, it should be possible to determine experimentally if the two strands can separate and serve as templates. This would address referee 3’s concern that strand separation is not feasible thermodynamically. I regret to say that without such experimental evidence, we will not be able to publish your work in Nature and suggest publication in a more specialized journal. Should you be able to furnish more direct experimental evidence, we would be willing to reconsider such a revised paper. Naturally we would need to consult our referees once again. Furthermore, since space in our journal is at a premium, if you do decide to resubmit, then we recommend that you combine your two submitted papers into a single and more cohesive Article, potentially including the X-ray studies of your colleagues at Cambridge. Thank you again for submitting your papers to Nature. I am sure that this revision will delay your Nobel Prize and the discovery of the genetic code by only one or two years."

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