CFP: 7th Int’l Congress, Peer Review & Biomed Publ.

The Seventh International Congress on Peer Review and Biomedical Publication will be held September 8-10, 2013, in Chicago, IL. As with the previous Congresses, our aim is to improve the quality and credibility of biomedical peer review and publication and to help advance the efficiency, effectiveness, and equitability of the dissemination of biomedical information throughout the world.

Call for proposals:

Suggested topics:

Deadline for submission of abstracts is March 1, 2013.


The Professor Is In

Karen L. Kelsky is The Professor of TheProfessorIsIn, a Web site that augments Kelsky’s consulting practice as an advisor to advanced doctoral students and junior faculty. She came to my attention through her essay in the Chronicle of Higher Education, “To: Professors; Re: Your Advisees,” in which she laments the lack of robust professional advising in graduate school.

Or to put it succinctly in Long’s Axiom: Graduate school prepares you . . . for graduate school.

The Web site offers a variety of suggestions on applying for academic jobs, writing, publishing, grant applications and related professional topics. It is now available through our “blinks” section.

Chronicle: Attention!

Writing in The Chronicle of Higher Education, Amy Benson Brown, who directs the author-development program at Emory University’s Center for Faculty Development and Excellence, observes of scholarly writing habits:

As a writer and editor who coaches academic writers, I’ve witnessed how tricky that juggling act can be, especially in recent years. Besides teaching, doing research, and carrying out administrative responsibilities, many professors maintain relationships with foundations, work with community groups, and make themselves available as experts to the media. In the whirlwind of professional life today, successful writing clearly depends on the skillful management of attention as much as the quality of insight or research. I wonder if it is harder than ever now to be a good steward of the finite resource that is our attention.

Winifred Gallagher’s recent exploration of psychological research on this topic, Rapt: Attention and the Focused Life (Penguin Press, 2009), relays information with interesting implications for academics. Multitasking doesn’t work, particularly for cognitively demanding activities like research and writing. Uninterrupted focus for substantial periods remains vital to accomplishing anything requiring synthesis, insight, and articulation.

The good news is that most of us actually are not suffering from the attention-deficit disorder that we fear may soon render us unable to find our way home from the library. If we disconnect from our electronic devices and stubbornly set aside regular times to focus, our shriveled capacity for concentration will once again unfurl and flourish. Even better news is that our attention functions most productively in relatively small windows of time, like an hour and a half. After 90 minutes, we need a change of focus to keep the quality of our attention high.

The article “Attention, Please! Your Book Is Calling” is available on line to subscribers. Emory University’s Author Development Program in the Center for Faculty Development and Excellence is worth visiting.

Publishing Tips: Concerned About Peer Reviewers

One of the frequently confounding experiences that professors like you have had in scholarly publishing involves peer reviewers, whose comments sometimes conflict with each other or whose critiques are abusive or clueless.

You are not alone. According to an article by Jeffrey Brainard entitled “Incompetence Tops List of Complaints About Peer Reviewers” in The Chronicle of Higher Education:

Incompetence by their reviewers was the most common problem reported by scientists who submitted manuscripts to scholarly journals. Almost two-thirds voiced that beef in a survey administered to scientists employed by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences.

The supposedly expert reviewers, scientists complained, had not carefully read articles, were unfamiliar with the subject matter, or made mistakes of fact or reasoning. The survey results, the first of their kind, were reported in the September issue of the journal Science and Engineering Ethics.

Only a small percentage of scientists reported experiencing two of the most serious violations of peer-review ethics, breach of confidentiality (7 percent) or theft of ideas (5 percent). That finding appears at odds with anecdotal reports that those two problems are pervasive and that the peer-review system is a corrupt, old-boys’ network.

Complete articles available on line to subscribers.