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Has anybody here been published in a scientifc journal ?

  1. Feb 4, 2009 #1
    Dont know if this should be posted here..

    I'm in the process of trying to get a neuroscience paper published, it would be my first, and sent a copy round about 35 journals editors asking if they could look at the paper and give me a rough estimate of suitability for publication as well as some feedback.

    about 10 said not suitable, with no feedback
    another 12 said interesting to very good work but not suitable.
    8 were wrong email adresses or did not reply

    About five said submit in a kind of standard tone, so it was hard to tell, if they had any enthusiasm for my paper. It was kind of difficult to get them to commit to a comment on the paper. Four editors who said submit did not make any comments on the paper. One of those journals is cerebral cortex which is quite high profile. It appeared like he had looked at the paper as the suitability criteria he gave me was similiar to what is in my paper, but it is hard to tell.

    One of the five publications who said submit is edited by an eminent systems biologist he used far less business like language. such as "we need to do this" , and specifically discussed things to do, like find referees etc. When i looked at his track record, it appeared like my paper is the kind of thing he has been into in his career.

    Well maybe somebody could tell me if this is standard. When an editor looks at a papers and says submit, do they tend to refrain from giving feedback, and are pretty businesslike ?

    Also has anybody here been published, could maybe answer a few questions on procedure, rather than me hassle the editors ?
  2. jcsd
  3. Feb 4, 2009 #2


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    Some questions first: (these will help us better guide you)

    1. What is your affiliation? Are you part of a research group?
    2. Is this experimental work? Roughly, and very briefly, what is the subject?
    3. Is it a single author paper? If not, who are the other authors?
  4. Feb 4, 2009 #3
    1. Not affiliated myself, but the replies presumed i was. Most referred to me as "Dr".

    2. No its integration work, bringing together conflicting neuroscience theories and proposing a single solution in terms of systems theory and physics. To back up the theory i present a meta analysis of existing data which illustrates how several theories can be integrated. I guess kind of like standard model for neuroscience. I dont want to mention the most favourable pblication editors name, but his career is about trying to change genomics to integrate fragmented data.

    3. 2 co-authors both affiliated to universities, one of them providing me with access to university resources.
  5. Feb 4, 2009 #4


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    Have you consulted them on publication suggestions? If you haven't, you should first do that. Unless you have a pre-determined understanding on publications, you can't simply publish a paper with their names on it, without having them agree to it first.
  6. Feb 4, 2009 #5


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    People can do independent research, publish in peer-reviewed journals, and contribute to our knowledge without having to subject themselves to such petty crap. Sorry.
  7. Feb 4, 2009 #6
    Both are consulted at every stage and involved in the process. One editing, and one providing academic resources, advice and training by allowing me to sit on his own research groups to understand how a paper is put together. That is my primary co-author who just finished his doctorate, however he himself is not published yet, so he does not have the experience of dealing with editors. He gave me the advice to submit abstracts and link to the paper, to many publications for preview. Rather than spend time getting it ready for a specific journal.

    It really is hard to predict what journal is favourable. Those which i thought would be were not, and those which i had low on the priority list were. So I see why his strategy is right, as each journal has format guidelines, which are several days of work. Then 2-4 weeks to review, and from the emails i recieved, there is many reasons they will not publish even if you are within their scope. For example they have a big publication backlog to clear. If i had followed what seemed like the most likely journals to submit to, formatting then waiting for review it could have been next year, till i hit those which turned out favourable.
  8. Feb 4, 2009 #7
    It sounds to me like you "go ahead, submit" feedback from 5 journals (but often without feedback about the actual content of the paper). I'd suggest that you work on formatting it for submission to the journal on that list that you feel most positively about (with regards to the content of your work and the profile of the journal... and I'd think the references in your work might also guide you along this path -- i.e. in what journals were those works published?).

    During the actual submission process, I'd think you should get reviewed by at least 3 individuals... and those reviewers will return anonymous forms with a suggest to accept, accept on the condition of various modifications, or deny publication on the basis of certain defaults. That feedback (if provided -- sometimes it's brief but you usually get at least 1-2 good ones) will be critical... and if the publication is denied, then at least you'd have feedback on the actual content of the work when you try to reformat it for a perhaps lower profile publication.
  9. Feb 4, 2009 #8
    If anybody has experience with submission then i am just curious to know if the language with editors is generally brief and minimal, even if favourable to your work.

    Would it be right that the editors themselves, even if they find your work interesting, have to be a bit cool, as at the end of the day whether the article gets published is dependent on what the referees have to say ?
  10. Feb 4, 2009 #9


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    Hi Roger,

    What you've stated in your first post is very far from the norm in my experience. Granted, I'm not in neuroscience, but I imaging most journals follow a similar proceedure.

    I don't know of anyone who submits the article directly to the editor of a journal to evaluate whether it's fit for "official" submission. The process you've described sounds a lot more like the process for getting fiction published. With a scientific paper, you just submit it directly once you and your co-authors are happy with it.

    Most journals have a screening process. The paper is assigned an appropriate associate editor who gives it a first evaluation and as long as it passes this, he/she sends it out to suitable referees. The referees then give their feedback and recommendation within a few weeks (sometimes this can actually take months). Based on their reports, the associate editor makes a final decision whether to accept, accept with revision, re-evaluate after major revision, recommend an alternative publication, or outright reject.

    The review process is supposed to be blind - at least in one direction - meaning you're not supposed to know who the referees are who evaluate your work. This is so that they can be free to provide an unbiassed assessment of your work.

    When I read that you submitted directly to editors, I'm not suprised that you got cold feedback. It just sounds like you weren't following the standard protocol.

    I also don't know of anyone who uses the "shotgun" approach of submitting to 35 journals. Any journal that you submit to, you should be an avid reader of. What I have seen happen is that people will submit a manuscript to one, and if rejected try another one or maybe two (which can often be necessary if they're doing work outside of 'standard' issues). But 35? Later in your career, you will have to remember that it will be expected that you review at least one paper for every paper you submit. So if you submit 35 times, you should be ready to review 35 papers.
  11. Feb 4, 2009 #10
    Well i have two choices here. The high impact neuroscience journal, cerebral cortex which did appear to be saying that i fit their criteria. I'll perhaps write back to ask for clarification if it was based on looking at my article or a standard reply. They do state clearly when you do not. So i guess thats a go ahead.

    However the lower impact journal gives me the opportunity to work with somebody eminant and quite interesting. Clearly my work fitted with his approach and this was reflected in his inclusive language. Surprisingly he asked me to seek out three referees..think this is some kind of new approach ? I suggest who i think should review my work. I asked him about this and he said, yes they will probably pick two out of the three i suggest. I was pretty amazed.

    It difficult decision. I feel the appropriate journal would be cerebral cortex at it is primarily neuroscience. The favourable editors journal is an elsevier biophysics journal. My instinct tells me it is better to stick with the professor who is favourable to me. Within limits he will probably help me out more with problems. He did say he was sympathetic to the problems i was going to have. Mainly the amount of multi-discipline integration involved. (He has had similiar problems in his career) Then if the paper is completely rejected by the referees, so much so that its non-reversable, i can (hopefully) sort out the problems and go to the higher profile journal.
  12. Feb 4, 2009 #11


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    From what you've written so far, I would go with the lower impact journal.

    Get your manuscript typeset to the journal requirements (they may provide a template on the website for typesetting in Word or LaTeX), have your co-authors proof-read and sign off on the final draft, prepare a list of 4-5 possible referees, and go through the (typically online) submission process ... and wait.
  13. Feb 4, 2009 #12
  14. Feb 4, 2009 #13
    Thanks for advice, think that is what i should do.

    It has been very helpful (to all) to get interaction on this.
  15. Feb 5, 2009 #14
    Some more questions, if anybody is still around.

    1. As i have been asked to find referees, how do i go about this ? Do i write to people i think would be suitable referees and ask them if they want to do it, or do i just look through papers where i think a scientist has a domain of knowledge i respect, and give his name to the editor. Also how do you know if a particular scientist makes a suitable referee ?

    2. Some more trimming, checking and editing needs done to the paper. Basically i want to work harder to check if there is wrong presumptions i am proposing, as well as clear up a few points.I need to elicit some expert feedback on this. Initially i was going to email experts and ask them for opinions on these points, and then submit the paper for publication. I was then advised that i could lose protection over the concepts, and to submit the paper first. As i have submitted abstracts to many well known editors and at least one editorial board gave it an initial review, does this give me any copyright protection ?

    Well its a catch 22. If i submit without first clearing up points with experts, it will be worse science and more likely not publicated or if it is, not as good as i would like the paper to be. Two doctors have advised me not to consult other experts in case ideas are stolen. Hypothetically, if the ideas really were worth stealing, is it likely to happen ? Especially if i inform the people i am consulting that their feedback is to modify a paper which is now in the process of submission.

    3. Whats the rules or unwritten rules, in regards to confidentiality when discussing the paper with consultants or anybody for that matter. For example, if the Editor (who has an eminent reputation) is saying to me clear this and that point up, can i mention to another scientist..something like "Professor ==== has asked me to do this or that in regards to submission to his journal" Which is true..In that sense his name and the fact that this process is underway, would give extra credence to my seeking advice, and probably give a greater chance of eleciting feedback. Is that kind of thing ok to do ?
  16. Feb 5, 2009 #15


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    Sorry, what 'petty crap' are you talking about? There's no need to get so het up!

    No, you don't need to write to anyone. The referees you suggest should be knowledgeable people in your field. Most of the time they'll be people you've cited in your paper, since they will have done work in your area.

    What about your collaborators? Since you say that they are affiliated with a university, are they not experts in the field? It seems to me that you haven't really discussed anything with them, which seems a little bizarre.

    As others have said above, it strikes me as somewhat non-standard to email editors before submitting to their journal. I also don't think you'll have much chance of random professors replying to you suggesting amendments to your paper. The usual way to do things is to get the paper as finished as you can, and then submit to the journal. The referees will tell you which points you should change. But, and I'll stress again, I think you should use your contacts at the university your collaborators are from. You should certainly get both of them to read the paper, and perhaps ask them to get someone else in the department, unattached to the work, to have a read of it. This would certainly be a better idea than emailing people at random (90% of whom will just ignore you!).

    All journals I've dealt with (and any emails from other academics I don't personally know) adopt this approach. I guess it's less insulting, and is more of the norm: in external circles, the majority of titles are mr/mrs, but in academia this isn't the case.
    Last edited: Feb 5, 2009
  17. Feb 5, 2009 #16

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    Hi Roger-

    I think you've made a few mistakes already, and they may make this more difficult.

    Your first problem is that crackpots send all sorts of stuff to journals. It's the editor's job to keep them from eating up everybody's time, and you really don't want to do anything that would make the editor lump you in with them. You don't want to be lumped in with them.

    Your next problem is that your very first paper a) doesn't showcase your own work, as is more typical, and b) is (your words) creating a standard model for neuroscience. It's very, very rare that an amateur's first paper ends up changing the entire paradigm of a field. On the other hand, there are a lot of crackpots claiming to do just that.

    The next problem is that you are sending your papers to journals that you don't read. (Choppy's point) If you read these 35 journals religiously, you would know which ones publish what. This also calls into question your thesis that you're integrating other people's work: if you're not reading the literature, how do you know that you're ideas are supported by the data?

    Finally, your concern that your ideas will be stolen is something that far more crackpots worry about that scientists. Most scientists want other scientists to use their work. Besides, once a manuscript is received, it's date is noted when the paper is published, so there is no question of precedent.

    I don't know if your work is genius or crackpottery - I haven't read it. However, I can say that it shares a number of features with crackpot submissions, and that will almost certainly make the process more difficult.
  18. Feb 5, 2009 #17


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    Just to add to what has already been written.

    Unless there are some very special circumstances you NEVER interact with the editors directly, at least not on a "personal basis". Most of them will just send you standard e-mails to keep you informed of the process, but nowadays even this is often handled by online submission systems.
    The normal procedure would be to FIRST format the paper so that it conforms to the guidelines of the journal and then submit it; yes an editor (there are usually many) will of course have a quick look at the paper to make sure it seems suitable (topic,length etc) but that is ALL they do; the scientific review is always done by the referees.

    Getting a paper rejected by an editor is extremely rare, if it happens it simply means that you sent it to the wrong journal or you are trying to publish something that is obviously nutty.

    Btw, the reason why you are asked to suggest 3 referees is because most journals use two referees, ONE of those will usually (but not always) be picked (at random) from your list and the other will be chosen by the editor.
    The reason for this is rather obvious, the editors are not experts in you specific area and might not know who to send it to; so by allowing you to pick one of the referees they are giving you are chance to get your paper read by someone who will understand it. The editor will then read and compare the replies from BOTH referees (also, note that your paper will only get published if both referees approve).
  19. Feb 5, 2009 #18
    Again, just adding to what's written but if you're planning to have any kind of longevity in publications, it's not always a great idea to send round your work to many journals at one time. If two or more editors come back with a very keen interest, you will have to turn one of them down. Editors (especially for smaller journals) will remember this, and you'll potentially be denying yourself future opportunities to publish in those papers.
  20. Feb 5, 2009 #19
    Thanks for this. Very helpfull. It answers my first question very well. I was given an expensive tutorial on getting published, but it was not informative at all.

    Most editors said that the work was outwith journal scopes and aims. which is very common with multi-discipline work. If you search Pubmed for journals with neuroscience or bioscience content there are 500 in total. Each part of the field has been subdivided.

    The favourable journals were multi-disciplinary and interested in biosystems integration. To be honest i wasnt expecting to be offered any chance to submit at all even in an integrative journal. I had one journal marked out, which i thought suitable, but my advisor told me to me hit them all and see what happens. Appears like it has worked.
  21. Feb 5, 2009 #20
    Yes i am already feeling that kind of pressure. I had not expected to get this number of calls to allow the paper for submission. Although i was advised to submit abstracts to many, i saw this as a way to elicit professional feedback about the papers problems, and ended up with five ok's to submit, one being enthusiastic.
    Last edited: Feb 5, 2009
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