The advice recently given to aspiring authors (T.W. Durso, "Editors' Advice To Rejected Authors: Just Try, Try Again," The Scientist, Sept. 15, 1997, page 13) fosters an imperfect status quo. It fails to address those really troublesome problems that are particularly the bane of any newcomer to a field. Intentionally or not, Durso's article puts the onus subtly but firmly on authors to meet publishers' criteria, as though there are well-defined standards that may be met reliably by careful composition. But these putative standards are ill-defined, and restrictions on publishing are imposed without appropriate scientific methodology.

Although it is important to encourage clear, concise, and persuasive writing, the more intractable problem has proved to be the incalculable constraint on communication of largely untested and often irrational criticism, and consequently of whimsical selection. Failings of the peer-review system are all too often exacerbated by the frustration of unconscionable...

Interested in reading more?

Become a Member of

Receive full access to digital editions of The Scientist, as well as TS Digest, feature stories, more than 35 years of archives, and much more!