Dodge this.

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In case you somehow were not aware, we are in the midst of the (I think first ever?) World Science Festival. Yes – somewhere in New York City, people are discussing Einstein’s dreams, morality, and bioterrorism (not at the same time). If any of you are attending, let us know how it’s going. Along with this conference came the announcement of the first ever Kavli Prize recipients. Norway, apparently sick of being overshadowed by it’s eastern neighbor, is giving away it’s own million-dollar prizes in the modernized categories of neuroscience, astrophysics, and nanoscience (this last to Louis Brus and Sumio Iijima). Along the lines of my previous post, it will be interesting to see how prestigious these new awards will become, and/or whether (as Mitch commented) the work already speaks for itself.

Another event coming up soon, and related to whether or not science speaks for itself, is the release of the updated impact factors from ISI. There’s an interesting article in the latest C&E News about whether impact factors are useful/meaningful/accurate (which there’s always room to discuss), as well as a proposal for developing a new metric to gauge the ‘importance’ of a specific article, journal or researcher’s body of work. In general, it’s quite interesting, but there are several important factual errors. So, just in case these are wider misconceptions, let me clear a few things up:

1) The Nature ‘family’ of journals (Nature, and the research and review journals that have ‘Nature’ in their name) do not have editorial boards, or advisory boards; instead, the journals employ full-time, professional editors who are Ph.D. scientists drawn from relevant fields. [A quick correction 05/30: I’ve learned that the review journals do use advisory boards to help select research highlights.]

2) Our highest priority in considering and publishing new science is the quality of the work, not whether the topic is ‘hot’, or whether an author has published with the journal before.

3) While we welcome conversations and inquiries about upcoming manuscripts and ongoing research, ‘hammering’ on an editor (or similarly, overly aggressive comments to referees) is typically counterproductive.

Phew! That’s it.

In the end, perhaps Mitch is right, that a good paper is good no matter what, and that people find it and tell other people about it and eventually you can’t avoid reading it? Here’s hoping all our papers become ones you can’t help but love.

Catherine (associate editor, Nature Chemical Biology)