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Thread: Publishing Turn Around Time

  1. #1

    Publishing Turn Around Time

    Dr. Young,

    How long does it take from the time a researcher submits a paper for publication to the time it is actually published? How much further does research progress between the submission time and publication time?

    I'm thinking that by the time the papers are published, researchers are well on their way towards trying the next step of their research. Am I terribly disillusioned?

    -Steven

  2. #2
    Depending on the journal, 3-6 months, if the paper is accepted right away... It takes longer if the paper is criticized and has to be revised and re-reviewed (which may take several more months). There are now several fast publication routes for many of the journals but these are generally short communications. At the Society for Neuroscience, we frequently are seeing the latest (up to that day) data. Also, scientists often talk about their results at meetings before publishing the data.

    The system is actually a good one. It ensures that the quality of the papers remains high. But, like all other endeavors, there are several problems with this system:
    1. Delay. It can take a year or more before a paper is published.
    2. Negative results. Very often, negative results are not published.
    3. Inadequate review. Sometimes, the reviewers don't do a good job and sloppy science are published (even in some of the best journals in the field).

    One of the ways that you can tell the quality of the science of a laboratory is the extent to which the work from the laboratory are consistently reproducible by other laboratories. This is something that I am most proud of from my laboratory. Reliability is as or perhaps more important than speed. Many studies cannot be reproduced and may misleads the field for several years until somebody shows that a mistake of technique or data collection had been made.

    Sometimes, very important findings cannot be reproduced and this leads to enormous turmoil in the field. For example, there is a huge fight going on in neuroscience concerning the production of new neurons in the brains of monkeys. Two years ago, Elizabeth Gould from Princeton University published a study indicating that substantial numbers of neurons are born daily in the brains of monkeys and this was a much heralded study. This finding provides the basis of the belief that neural stem cells continuously produce new neurons in our brains. Several months ago, Pasko Rakic from Yale University challenged these results and basically reported that they were unable to find any new neurons in the cortex of monkeys. It may take a year or more to settle this dispute.

    There are many non-reproduced studies in spinal cord injury. To date, for example, the Cheng & Olsen work has not yet be reproduced by other laboratories. Likewise, the IN-1 findings by Schwab, the activated macrophage findings by Schwartz, the finding that neonatal spinal cords can regenerate when reconnected by Kawaguchi, the therapeutic vaccine work by David & McKerracher, the inosine studies by Benowitz, the stem cell transplant work of MacDonald, and others have not yet been reproduced by other laboratories. While reproduction of the work is not absolutely essential if the original work is good and carefully done, it is a little worrisome when nothing shows up within two or three years.

    The FDA requires replication of phase 3 clinical trial results before they will approve a treatment. This is a requirement that some people think may be too rigorous, particularly when there are no other therapies available for the condition. I personally believe that the FDA should have a separate category of interim approval for treatments that have not yet been reproduced, particularly for treatments that have no adequate substitutes. This is an ongoing debate.

    Wise.

    [This message was edited by Wise Young on Apr 06, 2002 at 11:38 AM.]

  3. #3
    Originally posted by Wise Young:

    Depending on the journal, 3-6 months, if the paper is accepted right away... It takes longer if the paper is criticized and has to be revised and re-reviewed (which may take several more months). There are now several fast publication routes for many of the journals but these are generally short communications. At the Society for Neuroscience, we frequently are seeing the latest (up to that day) data. Also, scientists often talk about their results at meetings before publishing the data.

    The system is actually a good one. It ensures that the quality of the papers remains high. But, like all other endeavors, there are several problems with this system:
    1. Delay. It can take a year or more before a paper is published.

    Wise.
    Thanks. So in other words, the news reports that are coming out today are of last years results? And the answer to "Why aren't they further along?" is "They probably are, but the results haven't been published." Would that be true?

    -Steven

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