Nature practices what it preaches… where is Science?

I don’t know when this started but I am impressed. There has been much hand wringing of late (well not really of late, its been going on for years) about the ever increasing density of Nature and Science papers and the lack of full methods in the full text of their articles. This information is generally available in the supplementary data files but it is not uniform and having separate files for supplementary files and the actual paper is tedious at best when you are trying to read through a paper. Moreover, the recent Linda Buck group retraction that included an author contribution line (which I still think was weird) was further complicated by the fact that an author contribution line wasn’t standard for Nature. Well, no more. Nature articles now include an author contribution line.

All I can say is, way to go Nature. The author contribution line is nice but the methods section attached to the downloaded PDF is fantastic!! I use a program called Papers to organize and read my PDFs and having separate supplementary files to go along with the manuscript was a real pain. I don’t need to worry about it, at least for the full methods (which I really do care about reading) since they are now part of the downloaded PDF. Time to fall into line Science! This is a service that your readers deserve.

7 responses to “Nature practices what it preaches… where is Science?

  1. I’m not sure whether to be happy that Nature is now attaching all supplemental info to the pdf, or depressed that it’s not standard. I mean, really–this is data! It is published! Why is it so hard to print it out? Neuron is the biggest loser in this regard.

  2. Why is it so hard to print it out

    Surely you jest!! I haven’t printed a paper (except to take it to journal club) in years. What a waste of paper. Moreover, these are impossible to keep organized in any meaningful way. Get a program that allows you to organize PDFs and annotate them on your computer. it will save you time and headache and help the environment!! If you have a mac you need Papers. If you have a PC, FSM save you.

    I agree with the jist though… All downloadable PDFs should have all the data appended to them (including the supplementary data) in one file. Anything else is really unacceptable. Nature has at least made a step in the right direction.

  3. I was also happy that Nature started appending this full methods to the papers…now if they would condense the supplementary figures and tack them on too…it’s absolutely ridiculous how much data necessary for critically evaluating a paper is shoved into supplementary figures these days.

    I just started using Papers (I like to flip through stacks of papers as I tend to remember papers by remembering what the first page looks like–so Papers is perfect for me), but I still prefer printing a paper to read it for the first time…being able to mark it up physically, etc.

  4. I can’t read PDFs on the computer and retain nearly anything. I’m a printed paper kind of girl.

  5. Shame on you printed paper types, you’re ruining our planet. Okay, that’s a bit harsh… but seriously, as your career progresses those stacks of paper are going to get completely out of control and you will not be able to stay organized. Invest in a PDF organizing program (I suggest Papers) and learn to annotate the PDFs in a systematic way that can help you write.

    Allow me to give an example. I am currently writing 3 grants and 2 reviews. I used my annotated notes organized in the past year on Papers to cut and paste almost an entire review (and not a short one) in one day last week. All I really had to do was write an intro and discussion. I am going to write the background and significance section on a grant today and I am completely confident that it will be done because all my notes are in place.

    You may recall that Physioprof made a fuss some time ago about becoming an efficient writer being one of the most important factors in being a successful PI. Few commented on that but it is of the utmost importance. The sooner you get started on setting yourself up to be an efficient writer the better off you will be and the faster your career will advance.

    Maybe I should do a full post on this.

  6. Pingback: Want to be successful? learn to write quickly and efficiently « JUNIORPROF

  7. PNAS is the worst. They have separate files for EACH supplementary figure AND separate files for the figure legends. There might be 4 supplementary figs in a paper, so you can end up with upwards of 9 files connected to one manuscript. This is just laziness on the part of the editors; a simple solution is to mandate that all supplementary data (with legends) appear in a single .pdf.

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