09 September 2011

How students see scientific publishing

As I mentioned yesterday, I have been asking students to sketch things this semester. (This is inspired by a recent paper in Science about the effectiveness of drawing for teaching.)

In my biological writing class, I asked students to draw a little flowchart to show what happens between when a scientist writes a paper and someone else can read it.

About half the students mentioned “review” in some form, but only 17% used the phrase that distinguishes academic and scholarly writing: peer review.

There seemed to be great confusion about the difference between a publisher, an editor, and a reviewer. The terms were sort of used interchangeably to mean “people who handle stuff to get the paper out.”

Some students, perhaps not being aware of publishing jargon, used descriptive phrases like, “superiors” and the perhaps too honest, “someone of power.”

One person wrote about the part of the “publicist.” I liked the sound of that. Maybe more scientists should have publicists instead of publishers.

“Zen, baby! I’ve got you booked on Craig Ferguson next Tuesday! I’m still working on that Daily Show gig, but Stewart’s people won’t return my calls, the bastards...”

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