Timing is Everything
I’m going start this month’s Science Editor Newsletter by highlighting the new Early Online article by Jennifer Cox on the recent CSE White Paper Update from Editorial Policy Committee covering preprint servers. As posting manuscripts to preprint servers becomes an increasingly common occurrence, the new policy states that “Editors have a responsibility to present clear guidelines to authors regarding their policy on preprint servers.”
The CSE policy makes no recommendations as to whether journals allow preprints to be considered, which will have to be determined at the journal-level and is likely based in part on the standards of the field. For example, medical journals continue to be some of the most prominent holdouts from allowing consideration of manuscripts previously posted to preprint servers, usually due to a concern that medical and health research that has not be thoroughly vetted by the peer review process could cause real harm to patients or the public in general.
Personally, I think there’s some truth to that, but I’m not sure that’s a reason not to allow consideration of preprints. Few journals, if any, require posting an unreviewed manuscript to a preprint server and most don’t necessarily even encourage it, stating only that posting a preprint does not preclude consideration. Thus, the responsibility is placed on the author to determine the best route for their research and to make the important judgement call as to when to release their findings to the public.
Last week, a polar vortex engulfed much of North America, creating areas that were colder than Antarctica; and yet, this week it feels like Spring in most of those same areas. It’s warm enough to want to plant a garden, but of course, that would be a mistake for many types of plants as it’s bound to get deathly cold and frost over at least a few times before this Winter is done. A good gardener who has invested in and cultivated great plants knows that the timing of when they are planted outside and exposed to the elements is essential. Likewise, authors spend months, sometimes years, working on a manuscript, so I would hope they too have a good grasp on when it should see the light of day.
Editor-in-Chief, Science Editor
If you haven’t already, please check out the Winter 2018 issue of Science Editor, which should have recently arrived in the mailboxes of CSE members.
Hot Articles from Recent Issues (For CSE Members only)
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The issue of conflicts of interests is a perennial problem affecting, well, everything, but it has received increased attention recently because of a series of articles in the New York Times highlighting the undisclosed author COIs in prominent biomedical journals. In her Fire of the Week column from last April, Emilie Gunn provides some advice for Managing Conflicts of Interest during Editor searches.
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From the Archives
On the topic of preprints, two years ago, Jessica Polka, the director of ASAPbio, correctly predicted that the use of preprints would continue to increase in her article Forecasting the Growth of Preprints in Biology
Resource of the Month
Being an editor and working at scientific publication requires being ever knowledgeable of a rapidly changing scientific and publishing landscape, so each month we highlight a resource that will hopefully make this at least a little bit easier.
Although aimed mainly at authors, this preprint, via the Open Science Framework, provides a thorough guide for preparing well-designed and transparent scientific research and articles that can be helpful to editors and journals too: Improving Transparency and Scientific Rigor in Academic Publishing
A Warm Thought for the Road
As noted, it’s been very cold. But even when as the worst of the cold passes, it will still be cold and gray for a few more weeks (at least). So, if you’re like me, you’re looking for anything to lift your spirits. Something I’ve recently enjoyed is liking random tweets from early career researchers giddy that their article has been accepted in a journal. Like the flowers of early Spring, I find these little shoots of positivity can brighten an otherwise glum day.
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