Week 2: The Science Publishing Ecosystem

Publications are the fundamental unit of scientific output, but how do you go from idea to published paper? In this lecture we will explore the ecosystem of scientific publishing, and you will learn the ABC’s of this complicated world.

Lecture Topics

  • What is primary literature?
    • Primary literature vs. grey literature vs. everything else
    • Peer review defines primary literature
  • How scientists and journals are assessed
    • Personal metrics (e.g. citations, H-index)
    • Journal metrics (e.g. impact factor, subjective opinions)
    • Altmetrics
    • Biases can influence these metrics, so be skeptical
  • Open Access vs. Subscription-based journals
    • Economics of publishers
    • Pros and cons of each model, and ethical considerations
    • When are you required to publish Open Access?
    • Avoiding predatory journals
  • How to select a journal in which to publish
    • Target audience, turnaround time, cost, open access
  • Authorship
    • Who gets to be a co-author?
    • How is author order determined?

In-class Activities

  • Sign up for Twitter
  • Self-assessment (Individual Development Plan)


For this week, please peruse this website by Trevor Branch: Most cited fish and fisheries books, papers, and databases.

Also, please read: (http://www.nature.com/news/nature-journals-offer-double-blind-review-1.16931)

Please watch this video, which provides a backgrounder to open access publishing: (http://phdcomics.com/tv/?v=L5rVH1KGBCY)

Darling, Emily, David Shiffman, Isabelle Côté and Joshua Drew (2013). “The role of Twitter in the life cycle of a scientific publication”. Ideas in Ecology and Evolution 6.1. http://ojs.library.queensu.ca/index.php/IEE/article/view/4625.

Weltzin, Jake F, R Travis Belote, Leigh T. Williams, Jason K. Keller and E Cayenne Engel (2006). “Authorship in ecology: attribution, accountability, and responsibility”. Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment 4.8, pp. 435–441. ISSN: 1540-9295. DOI: 10.1890/1540-9295(2006)4[435:AIEAAA]2.0.CO;2. http://doi.wiley.com/10.1890/1540-9295(2006)4[435:AIEAAA]2.0.CO;2.

Ioannidis et all, (2018). “Thousands of scientists publish a paper every five days.” Nature: https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-018-06185-8

Details - Week 2

Activity 1: Sign up for Twitter

Each student to make a Twitter account. All students should follow each other and make a welcome post to #MISciComm. Follow ten other scientists. (10 min)

Activity 2: Self-Assessment

Students will complete a self-assessment of their own science abilities, including sci comm.

Go to http://myidp.sciencecareers.org and make an account. Complete the IDP. Save your results. We will do this again at the end of the course.

There are two goals to this:

  1. Measure your perceived development over the course.
  2. Learn about the breadth of science careers.

Time = 20 min.

Lecture Slides

Slides available via speakerdeck