Artwork: Erica P. Johnson

Like many scientists, Xi He has experienced acute competition between prestige journals Science, Nature, and Cell. While at a research conference at the Keystone resort in Colorado two years ago, he spoke with an editor of one of these top-tier journals. He told the editor about promising research on cell signaling in the course of embryo development.1 The editor urged him to submit his paper. "I've never had an editor request a submission before," He, who has published in all three journals, says. "It's always been the other way around."

The paper wasn't published in that journal. During the peer review process, the editors discovered that another prestige publication planned to print a similar paper by one of He's rivals. "In the end the research got published in a good journal," says He, who requested that the names of the journals involved...

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