Amy's paper accepted for publication! Excitement in the KerfootLab and a chance to talk about peer review

Originally posted 2014/12/14

A while ago, Amy submitted a paper for publication. This week we finally got the good news that it has been accepted at the Journal of Neuroimmunology!

We’ll post more about what the paper actually says once its been officially published, but for now we’re happy to celebrate our first research paper generated 100% within our lab. We’re expecting to submit several more soon, but it’s good to get the ball rolling and momentum on our side.

 Fig 1: The KerfootLab celebrating Amy's success! We're all about different types of imaging and Amy brought her hipster Polaroid camera. Of course, to share the resulting picture we had to subsequently image it with an iPhone, so it loses some of its cool factor.

Fig 1: The KerfootLab celebrating Amy's success! We're all about different types of imaging and Amy brought her hipster Polaroid camera. Of course, to share the resulting picture we had to subsequently image it with an iPhone, so it loses some of its cool factor.

As you can see from our original post, we submitted the manuscript over 3 months ago. Since then, the journal sent it to two other scientists who have relevant expertise to get their opinions on the paper. This “peer review” is an important part of the modern scientific process. In part, it guards against the publication of bad science, but it is also a chance to hear from colleagues who may have different perspectives and might see something in our results that we didn’t.

There are many arguments for and against peer review that you can find on the Internet (too many to link to here), but for the most part we think that is valuable. Discussion of the merits of a paper doesn’t end with the publication, however, and the real test is whether or not anyone reads it and if it influences the field as a whole. It takes a couple of years to see that. If you’re interested, sites like Google Scholar track citations of individual papers and you can see what influence they have had.

 Fig 2: A somewhat self-serving example of how to look up citations on Google Scholar: Search for a paper (by author name for example) and click on the "cited by" link underneath the paper (red arrow). Alternatively, you can look at papers from a given investigator by clicking on their profile (green arrow, top of page).

Fig 2: A somewhat self-serving example of how to look up citations on Google Scholar: Search for a paper (by author name for example) and click on the "cited by" link underneath the paper (red arrow). Alternatively, you can look at papers from a given investigator by clicking on their profile (green arrow, top of page).

The reviewers that got our paper were generally positive, but asked for some additional clarifications of how we interpreted our results and asked us to perform an additional experiment to address a relevant research question that our original manuscript left unanswered. This is very typical of manuscript reviews. Sometimes, however, things can get a little mean.

We did the work to address the reviewer’s concerns and resubmitted the manuscript about a month ago. The reviewers then had a chance to look at our response and ultimately the journal accepted the paper. We don’t know exactly when it will be published officially, but we’ll post a summary when it is. After that, while we'll try to deny it, we'll be obsessively tracking its progress through Google Scholar.