Journals

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Journals are one of the main means by which we disseminate what our scientific endeavours. More below...

Contents

Journals to read and publish in

This is just the start of a list of journals we can send our publications to. Or read the publications of other people from. And perhaps even our own <de>if</del>when they are accepted. It would be nice to have some impact factors (do we even believe in them?) inserted in here automagically, as I do in our publications list. (Please don't add the impact factors manually since they will fall in and out of date over, time which isn't informative.) Instead I've grouped them by tiers.

Broadest content and reach

These journals have the widest reach and the most general audience, especially within the scientific community. This is generally the best you can go for "peer reviewed" publications. Yes, The New York Times or Time</time> may have a broader reach, but the stamp of "peer reviewed" isn't present. Exceptions to this do exist depending on article and the journal type, but the main thing to go for is reach. Notice that there are some journals here outside of the traditional <cite>Nature and Science domains.

  • Nature {Biotechnology, Genetics, Structural Biology}
  • Science
  • Journal of Biology
  • Scientific American
  • PLoS {Biology, Medicine, One}

Solid medium reach

The problem with some of the high impact journals is that page space is considered very valuable. While they are to be commended in trying to preserve rigourous even as they make you read 6pt figure captions, it's hard to publish solid pieces of work that really do require a lot of space to do it justice.

These journals below represent places where you can publish a solid piece of work.

  • Journal of Molecular Biology
  • Journal of Proteomics & Bioinformatics
  • Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, USA

Acceptable narrow reach

These are rather low impact factor journals but they are also highly specialised and sometimes it is necessary to publish good, even great, works in such places. Few people do the science we do, and we can get into some rather esoteric topics about

Plus sometimes we get invited to write a paper as a result of conference proceedings (but are still peer reviewed).


Thoughts on traditional journal publishing

Scientific publications can be of any type, from raw data presented as a story, to beautifully crafted descriptions of beautifully crafted experiments, to reviews to opinion pieces to letters which can be mushy. Careers are made and broken based on the stamp of "peer reviewed" assigned to publications, which usually means that a publication is deemed worthy of publication usually by 2-3 reviewers (other scientists with the expertise to evaluate it), along with the editorial members supervising the publication.

And it largely works. While there exist a few high profile publications whose authors deliberately defraud, slightly or grossly, as well as publications reporting unrepeatable findings, by and large the vast majority of scientific publications report a decent valid truth. Each publication is a distinctive effort, much like a painting or a sculpture or a composition, and the same qualities that we attribute to the arts, such as a beauty and grace, can be attributed here to both the words as well as the science behind it.

At the time of writing, Dec 2010, the Internet is transforming how we humans communicate and a great experiment is about begin as we digitise all that we previously called language in its oral and written forms, from grunts and stone scribblings to 2000+ page laws today. Scientific publishing and journals are still slow in catching up to the numerous ways science can be published and disseminated online. One of the cornerstones of academic publishing, "peer review", a stamp that people collect to advance in their career, is somewhat threatened by the mass opinion which even if informed isn't necessarily the way things work. In other words, science doesn't occur by democracy. So it'll be interesting to see what happen with scientific publishing. We as a group believe in dissemination of our science through the software we write as well as the web servers we create.

What's interesting is that even the so called "online journals" are affecting gradual change by requiring publications to be formatted in the traditional vein but then allowing comments to be made and allowing the authors to make changes to their paper based on the comments. So this leads to the concept of organic publications which sounds great in theory but how this will be used to a judge a person's career is still an open issue.

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