Thursday, November 11, 2010

Good news

As I have mentioned here before, I am applying for a big grant. (I may have more time to post here after that grant application is in.) My chances of getting that grant, or at least my personal estimation of my chances, have just gotten a lot better. This is because the review article, in which I do my best to lay out the whole field I plan to focus on, has been accepted for publication by the Proceedings of the Royal Society B. The B is for biology, as they split the journal into topics some decades back. Still the Roy. Soc. is a most venerable publisher. They published Darwin. They published Newton. They have published, well, tens of thousands of authors by now. It is the 350th anniversary of the society, But still, it is a very prestigious journal, and basing my application on a paper in press with them is a hell of a lot better than basing it on the same paper when it hadn't been accepted for publication anywhere. I wrote to a few journals (lower impact ones) who didn't even want to look at it. Having a single author, 10 page review article published with Proc. Roy. Soc. one year after I finished grad school is certainly going to improve my chances. I hope. The timing is good, as the application is due on Wednesday, and I only sent it to them three weeks ago. Most journals take months to give authors an answer. The two anonymous reviewers they sent it to had only very minor suggestions for edits (the first pointed out three typos and stopped at that), so it should be in print, or at least online, very soonish.

The point of a review article is to give an overview of the field. What is know, what is hypothesized, what are the important questions, where is the field going. I have been thinking about the topic of this one on and off for perhaps seven years, but if you put together all the time I specifically spent on it, it would be about six months of work, most in the last year. Perhaps half of that was spent just searching out the relevant literature. I must have read several thousand article titles, perhaps 500 abstracts, and maybe 200 full papers and book chapters. 91 sources made it into the final paper, and 18 more into the appendixes. The reason I had to do so much preliminary literature searching is that no one has ever written a review on this topic before, and perhaps four of the authors whose ideas and data I draw on had this general topic in mind.

Now, part of publishing with them and most other journals these days is that the paper is embargoed until they say it ain't. Embargoed means I can't tell the press what I found out, or even what the article is about, before the journal has a chance to publish it. But for the curious and bored, I can share the list of articles I reference. Just looking through them gives a sense of the range of journals I was searching in. Archiv fur Hydrobiologie, The American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene, Entomol. Exp. Appl, American Statistician, Obstetrical & Gynecological Survey, Can. J. Fish. Aquat. Sci., Experimental Gerontology, The Auk, Annals: New York Academy of Sciences, Biol. Reprod, Maturitas, Administrative Science Quarterly, J. Herpetol., Ophelia, Genetica, Journal of the Institute of Actuaries and so on. I am lucky in that I didn't have to actually scan the tables of contents of the several thousand journals that could potentially have had relevant papers. I used Google Scholar, Web of Science and other literature searching tools. I have no idea how they did this sort of thing before the internet.

Like a good playbill, in order of appearance:

Main Article:
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Appendix 1.
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Appendix 2
1. Bishop, M. W. H. 1964 Paternal contribution to embryonic death. Reproduction 7, 383-396.
2. Wilcox, A. J., Weinberg, C. R., O'Connor, J. F., Baird, D. D., Schlatterer, J. P., Canfield, R. E., Armstrong, E. G. & Nisula, B. C. 1989 Incidence of early loss of pregnancy. Obstetrical & Gynecological Survey 44, 147.
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8. Bloom, S. E. 1972 Chromosome abnormalities in chicken (Gallus domesticus) embryos: types, frequencies and phenotypic effects. Chromosoma 37, 309-326.
9. Forstmeier, W. & Ellegren, H. 2010 Trisomy and triploidy are sources of embryo mortality in the zebra finch. Proc. R. Soc. Lond., Ser. B: Biol. Sci.

1 comment:

jte said...

Having read your draft paper, I wonder about your novel hypothesis of ontogenescence being (in part or whole) a result of higher rates of transition tests occurring early in life, then occurring at a decreasing rate. 1) How does this differ from the frailty hypothesis? 2) Why, in humans, would mortality bottom out at 12 years old, transitioning from ontogenescence to senescence? After all, I'd guess that at and through puberty a whole new onslaught of transcription tests are brought to the fore, many more than an individual faces between the years of, say, 6 and onset of puberty.