Friday, June 7, 2013

Friday Fun: How to Fund Your Data Analyst

Remember Amos Smith's Editorial, discussed here yesterday?
(and here, and here, and here)

I wondered, on Twitter: How many submissions does Organic Letters get in a year, anyway?

Sonja Krane, a JACS editor, set me straight:
Rats, foiled again! But then, an interesting tidbit from Stu Cantrill over at Nature Chemistry
(N.B. Stu used to work at OL):
Hmm, so all I have to do is count. In 2012, Organic Letters published 24 issues, which seem to have an average article count ~80 / per.* So that's 2,000 articles / year, give or take 100. Now, let's assume Stu's lower range (30% acceptance) - that's 7,000 submissions. Back of the envelope, I'd guess an average Supporting Info section to clock in at around 40 pages nowadays.

That's 280,000 pages of SI.
Pity the poor Data Analyst.

But...what a great way to FUND this potentially burgeoning "alternative" career! A nominal fee of, say, $0.10 / SI page - price of a photocopy from way back, kids - would immediately bring $30K into the journal's coffers. A $3 "data verification" fee per manuscript brings another $21K. Not big money, but we're now into the realm of serious subsidy for someone's salary.

Readers: Would you pay $7.00 to submit your OL manuscript?

* [(Dec 21 + July 6 + Jan 6 + Apr 20) - (corrections + editorials)] = 318 articles / 4 = 79.5


  1. Ahh!

    We (scientists) come up with the ideas, write the grants, get funding, run the experiments, analyze the data, write the papers, referee the papers, revise the papers, then give them for free to the journals who, in turn, don't allow us to publish the work anywhere else AND charge our institutions thousands of dollars to access it. Now you want US to pay THEM another $7 per article?! Good Lord.

    The ACS Publications division makes money hand over fist. There is plenty of it to pay for several data analysts. Of course, what incentive do the journals have for exposing their flaws? There is little incentive, which is why Smith is probably out there by himself on this one.

    And I think you've got the wrong system for analyzing data. Don't look at what is coming in, look at what has already been published. They should run plagiarism filters on old papers as well. I'll bet you'll find a ton of hits, especially for self-plagiarism.

    Punish accordingly.

    1. Hmm. And here I thought that $7 sounded about as nominal a fee as I could dream up - in my part o' the world, you pay that amount to drive over a bridge!

      The incentive for "flaw exposure" is trustworthiness and reputation. Perception is key, and ACS has a whole generation of chemists breaking into professorships and pharma jobs who've always had the Internet, and can be swayed by Retraction Watch.

      I'm with you on self-plagiarism and perusal of old papers. Root 'em out!

    2. I cannot wait until people use these new text and image scanners to run old papers. It's like running new drug tests for blood samples from Tours de France in the 1990s.

      Oh, if I had the time...