The Editor who did not bark

Tue May 25 08:49:26 EST 1993


   "The curious incident of the dog in the night-time."
   "The dog did nothing in the night-time."
   "That is the curious incident", remarked Sherlock Holmes.

 In the competitive world of modern research it pays to publish in as
high a quality journal as possible. For example, the reviewers of one of
my recent grant applications (rejected) did not just question  my work,
they questioned the quality of the journal in which the work was publish-

 So am I being naive submitting to a medium quality journal where there
is a reasonable chance that the work will be accepted without too much
hassle. Perhaps I should submit to top journal A, then if not successful,
to top journal B, and so on, until at last the paper "finds its level",
(or, by the laws of chance, finds a level higher than it should)?

 But then, this will take a long time. Perhaps, by the time the work
eventually gets published, our competitors in Japan and at the NIH will
have published first? Although some of the top journals claim to get a
submitted paper back to you within a few weeks if they decide that "your
excellent paper cannot be published at this time due to the intense
pressure on our space", it took Nature 7 weeks to return a paper to me
recently, without reviewing.

 So, if I decide to publish in one of the top 10 journals, it is going to
take at least 10 x 2 = 20 months. Eureka! Why not get one of the new
softwares, which allow one to set up a paper in formats of each of the
ten journals and send them in all at once? But the Editorial Policies of
all the journals state quite clearly that a submitted paper must not be
under consideration elsewhere. So, of course, I cannot do that.

 But what are the chances of getting caught out if I cheat? Are my
competitors as squeamish about breaking the rules? Surely, of the many
hundreds of thousands of authors out, battling in the highly competitive
world of modern research, there are some who try to stretch the rules?

 How would they be found out?        I suppose, a reviewer might receive
copies of the same paper from different journal Editors. The reviewer
might then inform the journals, who would then place the author on some
sort of internal black list. Would that worry the author? There are
plenty of more journals out there.

 Why do not Editors, after giving an author appropriate due process,
formally list the names of authors who have transgressed with the names
of their institutions? Why do Editors not bark?

      Sincerely,  Don Forsdyke, Discussion Leader. Bionet.Journals.Note

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