Saturday, December 8, 2007

Great minds think alike!

Here's some very interesting news from BioMed Central's blog. The open access publishers have created a new peer-reviewed journal called BMC Research Notes which they say will

"provide a home for short publications, case series, incremental updates to previous work, results of individual experiments and similar material that currently lack a suitable outlet. The intention is to reduce the loss suffered by the research community when such results remain unpublished".

This will be hugely valuable to the community. It's so hard to publish this kind of study, especially if you have negative data. And think of all the unfinished studies that are abandoned when funding runs out, contracts finish, students graduate... all those important findings languishing in dusty lab books across the world... The result is that other researchers waste time, money and resources on unnecessarily repeating the same experiments.

I actually came up with this idea a few years ago - honest! I had some interesting results hidden away in my PhD thesis, but not enough for another full paper, and no-one else in the lab was going to complete my project. I imagined a journal - I was going to call it "the Journal of Unfinished Studies" - that would publish my best two or three figures with a short description of what the work meant and why it had not been finished. Hey, any publication was better than nothing at that point!

Of course I had no idea how I would ever go about making it happen. So I'm glad that BioMed Central have turned the idea into reality! I'm sure that early career scientists everywhere are rejoicing and digging out their old lab books as we speak. These guys are going to be swamped with submissions. And you know what, their articles are going to be cited. A lot. They could end up with a pretty decent impact factor.

I wonder where I put that zip disc with all my thesis work on it... Come to think of it, I wonder if zip drives still exist...


  1. Zip drives still exist, but I imagine they're on the verge of extinction. The evolution of data storage formats, while great for progress, can be a huge pain in the ass for retrieving old data. While you're searching for those zip drives, keep an eye out for optical drives for me, will ya?

  2. I'm not sure I'd recognise one if I saw it, but I'll keep my eyes and ears open!

    The constant updates to storage media do provide lots of income for people with the means to convert data to different formats though!


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