I just wanted to plug a couple of editorials that have appeared recently in other Nature-branded journals, and see if the chemistry community has any feedback they wanted to share here on the blog – or, indeed, by contacting the journals in question. Before you click the full-text links below, both of the editorials are free to access if you are registered on nature.com (this process is free) or, of course, a subscriber. (As far as I am aware, editorials in all the Nature physical sciences titles – including Nature Chemistry – are free to nature.com registrants).
The first is from the March 2011 issue of Nature Photonics and considers online commenting. Simply put in the standfirst of the artice, ‘Would you welcome or loathe the ability to post online comments on articles…?’ The question of online commenting is one that seems to crop up more frequently these days – and from my trawls through the blogosphere, most of the chemists out there who have chimed in seem to think online commenting would not be a bad idea. So, what do you think? Would this add a valuable channel to scientific discourse, enabling what could be thought of as post-publication peer review in a manner such that the comments are always associated with the original article – or is it the case that the majority of people don’t really have the time (or inclination) to get involved in this way?
Somewhat related to this is the question of greater transparency in peer review – the topic of the editorial in the February 2011 issue of Nature Materials. Again, to quote the standfirst at you, ‘Would the publication of anonymous referee reports and editorial decision letters of published papers benefit the scientific debate?’ There seems to be a blog post every week or so about the positives and negatives of peer review (although it seems as though it is mostly the negatives that get the press). There are too many posts to link to, but trust me, they’re not hard to find with your favourite search engine. There’s even an inquiry into peer review being conducted by the Government here in the UK. Any thoughts on publishing referee reports – or peer review in general?
Stuart Cantrill (Chief Editor, Nature Chemistry)