The order of authors on scientific papers matters a lot. The best places to be on a paper vary by field. But typically the first and the corresponding (usually last) authors are the prime real estate. When people are evaluated on the job market, for promotion, or to get grants, the number of first/corresponding author papers can be the difference between success and failure. At the same time, many journals list “authors contributions” at the end of the manuscript, but this is rarely prominently displayed.
I posted a little while ago on a proposal for a fast statistics journal. It generated a bunch of comments and even a really nice follow up post with some great ideas. Since then I’ve gotten reviews back on a couple of papers and I think I realized one of the key issues that is driving me nuts about the current publishing model. It boils down to one simple question: What is a major revision?
Like many statisticians, I was amped to see a statistics paper appear in Science. Given the impact that statistics has on the scientific community, it is a shame that more statistics papers don’t appear in the glossy journals like Science or Nature. As I pointed out in the previous post, if the paper that introduced the p-value was cited every time this statistic was used, the paper would have over 3 million citations!
I am a huge fan of open access journals. I think open access is good both for moral reasons (science should be freely available) and for more selfish ones (I want people to be able to read my work). If given the choice, I would publish all of my work in journals that distribute results freely. But it turns out that for most open/free access systems, the publishing charges are paid by the scientists publishing in the journals.
Biomedical Computation Review has a nice summary (in which I am quoted briefly) by Kristin Sainani about the many different types of errors in computational research, including the infamous Duke incident and some other recent examples. The reproducible research policy at _Biostatistics_ is described as an example for how the publication process might need to change to prevent errors from persisting (or occurring).