Incoming Editor in Chief of the Journal of Neurophysiology David J. Linden has written a fascinating editorial. As new Editors often do, he lays out his vision of science publishing. If I am not sorely mistaken, he is issuing a little smackdown to the GlamourMagz!
I've always greatly admired the scientific ethos of Journal of Neurophysiology. Reading the Journal reminds me of what I like best about science. I like that it publishes full-length reports,
which are still being cited 20 or 30 years on. I like that each paper can stand on its own, without 10 supplemental online figures... Most importantly, I like that Journal of Neurophysiology has been guided solely by publishing excellent and interesting science, regardless of perceived "sexiness" or "impact factor."
Almost makes you want to jump into some neurophysiology yourself, doesn't it? And he's not done...
Editor Linden has a few thoughts for authors:
Finally, let me preach just a little bit. In these increasingly competitive times, when the focus of scientists increasingly turns to research grants, publications, and academic promotion, let's
remember that we all have come to neurophysiology out of a common desire to illuminate some interesting problems in the natural world. Our ultimate goal is not the published paper or the grant or the promotion, but rather to develop scientific understanding, a process that is inherently interactive and self-correcting.
Does this rock or what? We can just replace "neurophysiology" with "the entirety of biological and medical science" can we not? In one sentence he issues the most important critique and solution to one of our biggest cultural failings. Awesome.
Next Linden has a few words on the purpose of peer review that I think you will find as attractive as I do. I will eviscerate it a bit so that you are inclined to read the whole thing.
... strive to be rigorous, fair, and open-minded.... while it is always appropriate to ask for additional experiments if you think that the author's main point cannot stand without them, carefully consider your requests for additional experiments that broaden the scope of the investigation. ...you do not do the authors a favor by proposing an additional two years' worth of work. ... negative reviews should not be a license for mean-spirited or disrespectful prose. ...If there's something you really like, we won't think that you're a wimp if you praise it with gusto. It's rough out there and a little kindness
goes a long way. Remember, we're all striving to reveal the same truth about neural function--we're all on the same team.
It's fantastic. He may be a dreamer but he's dreaming the right dream. And he has a bully pulpit to enforce it for his journal's subfield.
And while I have the window open, I might as well do a Blogrolling: The Accidental Blog authored by:
David J. Linden, Ph.D., is a Professor in the Department of Neuroscience at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. His laboratory has worked for many years on the cellular substrates of memory storage in the brain. You can see a list of some of his lab's recent scientific papers here. He serves as the Chief Editor of the Journal of Neurophysiology.
And he blogs. Kewl.
[big ol' hattip to Nat Blair of The Junction Potential, go read his blog]