Blogging the biotechnology revolution

Systems Biology is changing the way biology is done. Is it a fad or is it effective? This blog tracks current happenings and helps you stay on top of the field. You can find a list of relevant papers at systems biology paper watch Have you heard a talk or read a paper in bioinformatics / systems biology you would like to tell other people about? Email: and get the word out!

Monday, October 30, 2006

"How to get a paper in Nature" Dr. Angela Eggleston, Senior Editor, Nature
Talk on the UCSD Campus

The talk "how to publish in nature" was rather misadvertised. In
fact, when we got there, the host said he chose the title to get
people to come (it worked), but the talk was more about the editor,
how she came to be an editor at Nature, and what NPG is like. On top
of that, 90% of what she said was either common knowledge (NPG
publishes these journals, full time editorial staff, yadda yadda) or
common sense (don't whine at the editors when you're paper is
rejected, follow the format guidelines, blah blah blah).

That being said, I learned these few interesting tidbits. NPG has 24
editors, 16 for biological sciences and 8 for physical (and all this
time you thought biology was a physical science) sciences. They don't
get as many submissions as I thought they did: 600/month. 75% are
rejected without review, 25% get reviewed, half of those are
published. Interdiscplinarity is high on the list of things they look
for, as is "novelty" (when's the last time you heard an editor saying
they encourage submission of old data).

Upon submission, an article is sent to the appropriate editor. If you
do the math, it turns out that an editor only has to ready 6-8
submissions/week. So each submission, apparently gets a full read
before they decide whether to send it out for
review. And apparently some rapport with the editor is encouraged
while you're trying to get your manuscript published.

What else... the online open-review trial bombed -big- time. They
probably won't adopt it. Some 3% of submissions opted for open review
(the rest being too afraid to publicize their nature-worthy results).
And for those who opted for open-review, the reviews were very
infrequent (who has time for that?) and often superficial. The editor
was squarely against the open access movement citing that a) none of
these journals have yet to turn a profit and thus validate the
business model, b) the journals work by charging the author (usually
$2,500), and for Nature to do the same, they would have to charge
$10k, which has a strong science-for-sale aspect to it.