In the biological sciences, authorship of scientific, peer-reviewed articles is perhaps the single biggest determinant of career success, recognition and grant funding. However, merely being one author out of, say 5, on an article is not enough, where you are on that list matters too.
Steven Burgess has proposed a radical idea on how to do away with this problem:
:) the idea is to do away completely with author hierarchy – just state what each person contributed
“The unasked question that this all comes down to is: Do publisher-owned rights matter more than the sharing of research for whatever benefit?” says Jon Tennant, communications director of professional research network ScienceOpen (also an STM member) in Berlin. “There’s a chance that ResearchGate will fail to recover from this, unless they fight back, and crumble as a business.”
Although physicists have been posting preprints for nearly 3 decades, many biologists have only just begun to widely share their unreviewed papers. The shift has been catalyzed, in part, by endorsements of preprint publishing from high-profile scientists, as well as the 2013 launch of the nonprofit bioRxiv by Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory (CSHL) in New York; bioRxiv now holds more than 15,000 papers. But in contrast to physics, where preprints took off without much fanfare or controversy, the leap into preprints is stirring strong passions in the hyper-competitive world of the life sciences.
accelerate the pace of science—and improve its quality—by publicizing findings long before they reach journals,
helping researchers get rapid feedback on their work
giving a leg up to young researchers who don’t yet have many publications
little difference between posting a preprint and presenting unpublished findings at a meeting, except that the preprint audience can be far larger
competitors may steal their data or ideas, and rush to publish similar work.
preprint servers will become a time sink, as scientists spend hours trying to sift through an immense mishmash of papers of various quality
easy, rapid publication could foster preprint wars—in which the findings in one preprint are quickly attacked in another, sometimes within hours. Such online squabbles could leave the public bewildered and erode trust in scientists.
My biggest problem as an academic? I’m not enough of a finisher. I get excited and distracted by new shiny things and start pursuing them instead of sitting down and finishing the paper from the last thing I’m already done with. I sometimes call this writers block… but that’s just an excuse and I know it.
So to combat this idea, and the ideas put forth in this post, Raul Pachecco-Vega wrote about how he teaches his students to write every day. It’s both a nice rebuttal and food for thought on how to approach the mountain of writing required to publish or perish. I especially like Meghan Duffy’s response.
We refer to this as "barf & buff" in my lab. Not an elegant phrase, but students get it! Get words out, then edit them.
The title of this post is one of my favorite Hemmingway quotes. While I think Ernie might have taken it too far (I’m not encouraging alcoholism here), I definitely approve of this kind of mentality. Just ask my editors, my first draft is usually words vomited onto the page that I then spend MONTHS beating into submission.
But as was recently pointed out in an article making the rounds of the twitterverse: this isn’t the only way to do it, and being open about the struggles we all go through (I still hate staring at a blank page) and our process.
Linus Pauling, a two-time Nobel prizewinner, also gave us another important, if less well-known, dictum: that if you want to have good ideas, you must have lots of ideas and learn to throw away the bad ones.
But how do we quantify if that’s true? One academic of emeritus status (John Kirwan) looked back on his career to do just that.