By now, you’ve probably heard about the incredible discovery of a new hominin (genus Homo)–unless you’ve been living in a cave (SEE WHAT I DID THERE?). There are lots of angles various articles and blog posts have taken, but Buzzfeed’s Dan Vergano describes something very interesting about how this important work is being published (boldface mine):
Instead of taking years to assess the fossils and publish reports on their features in a long series of studies, White complained that the discovery team had tried to publish a dozen papers on the find. But this effort led to their rejection by the prestigious journal Nature, a diss widely discussed in paleontology.
“We simply were unable to make this large description of an assemblage of fossils ‘fit’ the Nature format,” Berger told BuzzFeed News by email. The team and the journal editors, he said, “were both dissatisfied with the attempt to describe the largest assemblage of fossil hominins ever discovered in Africa in a 2,500-word article.”
Instead, Berger and his colleagues published the paper in the journal eLife, not a typical paleontology outlet but one that published a 35-page detailing of the fossils and 37-page description of the cave.
I’m glad to see scientists pushing back on being forced by publishers to fit their writing to a structure that is driven by a business model, not the needs of scientists and their readers.
Communicating science accurately and appropriately is more important that a publisher’s business model.
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