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Happy 4th of July
The Science newsletter today is about how my job works
Because it was a slow news day, Christie Wilcox gave my the keys to ScienceAdviser, the new daily newsletter from Science. Sign up for the newsletter here. For my piece today, I wrote about how my job works, which for some reason is quite mystical to many people. Read below:
Happy Fourth of July to those in the U.S.!
I’m Holden Thorp, the Editor-in-Chief of the Science family of journals. We are so excited about ScienceAdviser, coming to you every weekday thanks to the wise and winsome Christie Wilcox. Thank you for signing up and please tell all your friends!
This newsletter is an unusual project for us because it spans all of the areas of the Science journals—News, Research, and Commentary . Christie and I are some of the only folks that work on all three of these areas. Given that, I thought it might be of interest for me to explain how these parts of our operation interact.
News is editorially independent from Research and Commentary. This is important, because we believe our reporters should have the free ability to report the news that is of interest to the scientific community. That includes writing stories that are critical of papers in the Science journals. So, the News team’s leader, Tim Appenzeller, works for me, but he does so without any interference from me about what they’re writing. Still, I’m a total news junkie, and I sometimes help them with things when they ask, and any time they are going to write a story that is likely to get a lot of attention, they let me know. Also, when there are questions about any News story, Tim and I often work together to resolve them.
Research papers are always handled by editors who are subject matter experts for any given paper. At most of the journals, the editors are full-time employees who work for us. At Science Advances, the editors are academics around the world. As with News, I do not interfere with their decisions. There are good reasons for this – the main one is that I’m an expert on nucleic acid electrochemistry and metalloprotein enzymology, so you really don’t want me opining on the subject matter in your quantum computing paper. Also, if people could work around our editors’ decisions, we would have a completely unworkable system. So, I consult with our research editors often on papers that are going to get a lot of attention or when they are making a challenging decision. But ultimately, it’s up to them whether a paper is accepted or not. I also work with them when there are questions about a paper after it is published. For Science Advances, we have a research integrity officer, Phil Yeagle, who handles most of the questions that come up, and for the other journals, the professional editors handle any post-publication matters.
That leaves Commentary, where I’m probably the most involved. When Alan Leshner hired me, he said he wanted to see a stronger voice from our opinion pieces. Little did I know that COVID-19 would give us so much to write about. The Insights section of Science and the other commentary sections are a place for scientists to talk to each other about science. Importantly, all of these pieces are signed by individual authors, including me. When we write commentary pieces, they are the opinion of the author. My pieces are sometimes pretty opinionated – after all, they are labeled “editorial.” Some people say that my opinions or others in Science suggest that we will or will not take papers on certain things in Research. As I said above, I don’t interfere with our editors’ decisions about research papers, so my opinions are just that—my opinions. This has been coming up a lot with regard to the origins of COVID-19. In reality, we evaluate every paper with regard to its scientific content. In fact, we love papers that challenge conventional wisdom in all fields.
So, that’s a long-winded way of saying that ScienceAdviser will bring you the absolute best of News, Research, and Commentary from the Science journals and beyond.
Again, you can sign up here.