April 20, 2020

God morgon!

Good morning from Sweden. To all my friends who have lost the track of time during the quarantine, it is Monday and the beginning of a new week. Today’s digest is a very light one. However, it carries a super interesting preprint that studies the impact of the pandemic on publication speed of different medical journals. The study reports that, on average, the COVID-19 related papers were expedited through the peer-review process at a 49% (up to 80% in case of certain journals) higher pace than the mean pre-pandemic publishing speed (Yes, there is a pre-pandemic and, possibly, a post-pandemic era now). Although this is a controversial topic, I guess the preprint did a very good job of discussing the reasons behind and impact of accelerated publishing.

In my personal opinion, it is great to be able to get valuable scientific information as soon as it is produced. However, as the paper points out, there has to be some sort of trade-off between the quality of a publication and the time taken by the peer-review process. It could be argued that the quarantine measures might have made it easier for some reviewers to focus their attention on the peer-review, making it faster, but there is no information on ‘who’ reviewed these papers. Also, the article highlights what a lot of scholars have been warning about – the amount of post-publishing corrections that these papers would require (more work for Ms Bik!).

What do you think could be the reasons behind this unprecedented celerity of publishing? Could it be the availability of more spare time to review papers? or could this be an instance of politicization of science (as someone pointed out in the comments section of the article)? What could be the impact of this swiftness, both positive and negative, on the scientific realm? Would it be possible, or advisable, to keep up this trend of swift publishing in the post-pandemic era? Let’s discuss in the comments section.

Apart from this highly thought-provoking article, there is another interesting article on the identification of bacterial strains that may promote maize (corn, for my American friends) growth in chilling conditions.

There is another interesting article that tries to establish a link between the gut microbiome and memory. The study focused on microbiome-specific genetic and metabolomic changes that may impact memory. The study was performed in mice.

Enjoy the articles, have a great week, and stay safe!


Preprint: Pandemic Publishing: Medical journals drastically speed up their publication process for Covid-19 – Serge P.J.M. Horbach

Preprint: Coronavirus Infection and PARP Expression Dysregulate the NAD Metabolome: A Potentially Actionable Component of Innate Immunity – Collin D Heer, et al.

Animal microbiome

Genetic and metabolic links between the murine microbiome and memory – Jian-Hua Mao, et al. – Microbiome

Plant root-soil microbiome

Tapping into the maize root microbiome to identify bacteria that promote growth under chilling conditions – Stien Beirinckx, et al. – Microbiome

Microbial interactions

Preprint: Expanding the diversity of bacterioplankton isolates and modeling isolation efficacy with large scale dilution-to-extinction cultivation – Michael W. Henson, et al.


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