Accelerating scientific publication in biology

Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2015 Nov 3;112(44):13439-46. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1511912112. Epub 2015 Oct 27.


Scientific publications enable results and ideas to be transmitted throughout the scientific community. The number and type of journal publications also have become the primary criteria used in evaluating career advancement. Our analysis suggests that publication practices have changed considerably in the life sciences over the past 30 years. More experimental data are now required for publication, and the average time required for graduate students to publish their first paper has increased and is approaching the desirable duration of PhD training. Because publication is generally a requirement for career progression, schemes to reduce the time of graduate student and postdoctoral training may be difficult to implement without also considering new mechanisms for accelerating communication of their work. The increasing time to publication also delays potential catalytic effects that ensue when many scientists have access to new information. The time has come for life scientists, funding agencies, and publishers to discuss how to communicate new findings in a way that best serves the interests of the public and the scientific community.

Keywords: PhD training; arXiv; career advancement; journals; scientific publication.

MeSH terms

  • Biology / standards*
  • Biology / trends
  • Education, Graduate / standards
  • Education, Graduate / trends
  • Fellowships and Scholarships / standards
  • Fellowships and Scholarships / trends
  • Financing, Organized / standards
  • Financing, Organized / trends
  • Humans
  • Publications / standards*
  • Publications / statistics & numerical data*
  • Publications / trends
  • Time Factors