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This month on the Node – May 2012

Posted by , on 4 June 2012

This (last…) month, several posts on the Node were about publishing issues.

Ivan Oransky wrote a guest post to tell the story of why he and Adam Marcus started the blog “Retraction Watch“, which tracks retractions across the literature.

“There are 44% more papers published every year than a decade ago, but at least 10 times the number of retractions per year.
Why the rise? (…) a few trends have manifest themselves. Some of the increase is due to more visibility for papers thanks to online publishing, and to the advent of plagiarism detection software. But journal editors Ferric Fang and Arturo Casadevall have made convincing arguments that the harsh competitive environment in which scientists work today has tempted more researchers to cut corners and commit fraud.”

Another publishing trend was picked up right here in the Development offices, where Executive Editor Katherine Brown noticed that several authors painstakingly removed “dirt” from images.

“[T]he aim of the authors was to ensure that the images were easily interpreted, and that readers weren’t diverted from the data by the extraneous bits of stuff. This may seem innocent, but it could be the first step on a dangerous slope, at the bottom of which lie the clearly fraudulent activities of deleting the bits of data that don’t fit our hypothesis, or making up data that do.”

Alfonso Martinez-Arias also considers the pressure of publication in his review of the book “Wetware” by Dennis Bray. He recommends the book, and ends by stating that “Wetware is a gust of wind that should encourage you to sail into the current of the unknown, without fear, with the imagination that is denied by the current interest in publications rather than Discovery.”

But before we end this publication-focused section of the monthly summary, I do want to point you to the three editorials written by the former and current Editors in Chief of Development, to mark the journal’s 25th birthday. It’s a great overview of the history of Development, and reflects the rapid progression of the field of developmental biology.

There are a few competitions currently ongoing on the Node. First of all, there’s our essay competition. It’s open to anyone with research experience in developmental biology. The winner will be published in Development, and all nominees will receive a £50 Amazon gift certificate. See the announcement for full details. There is still time to start writing, so if you know someone who might be interested (a colleague or student) who may not have seen this yet, please spread the word!

Then there is another voting round for Woods Hole course images. Which of these colourful images would make a good journal cover?

You also voted for images from another course, the International Course on Developmental Biology from Quintay in Chile. Of the eight images, you selected this arrangement of zebrafish embryos as winner:

Also on the Node
Smart signalling in the developing brain
-Updates from the BSDB meeting (part 1, part 2) and an interview with poster winner Stephen Fleenor.
-Several new job postings.

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