David Roy Smith wrote about how genome papers are not fashionable any more. Good riddance. Too much focus on ‘genome papers’ by big journals distorted the scientific publishing landscape over the last decade. We will provide a good example based on Dr. Smith’s favorite genome paper.
Many of my favorite journal articles are genome papers. I remember, when I was a grad student in phycology, eagerly awaiting publication of the genome for Chlamydomonasthe superstar of green algaeand reading it incessantly once it was released, gleaning new insights each time through. There is something intimate and personal in learning about a species’ genome. And similarly, if you are part of the team describing the genome, there is a feeling that you’re giving the readers a first glimpse at an uncharted territory, with its unique landscape of genes, introns and intergenic regions.
If you check the Chlamy genome paper, you will find that it spent about 1/3rd of space describing flagellar genes. Three years prior to its publication, we submitted a paper identifying similar set of flagellar genes but in a more direct way. Instead of doing a genome comparison, we did a transcriptome measurement and got them. What a novel concept!! However, Science editors were not impressed, because we did not submit a ‘genome paper’.
Three years later, they published a ‘genome paper’ with similar set of findings. Flagellar gene section was one of the two biological stories of the genome paper, other one being genes related to photosynthesis. So, essentially we stole half of genome paper’s thunder three years before, and we published a real measurement instead of genome comparison. Of course, Science editors and Arthur Grossman & Company devised an elegant way to deal with that shortcoming. They decided to publish the chlamy Science paper without citing our work !!
Ladies and Gentlemen, that is how science moves ‘forward’ in U S of A.