The interesting times of science


As I begin my term as Editor-in-chief of Developmental Dynamics, I am reminded of the words of Paul Goetinck, who in 1992 became the journal's first Editor. He described the journal as “an international forum for the exchange of information gained from analytical or theoretical investigations on mechanisms that control morphogenesis.” Twenty years on, it's reassuring to know that his words still ring true.

That said, it's hard to overstate how much the science of publishing has changed since the early 1990s. Then, all aspects of publishing were handled by mail, and the printed scientific record was stored in our institutional libraries. Today, science lives on our computers, or iPads, or smart phones, wherever and whenever we wish to access it. With new devices and technology seeming to appear daily, an open access movement that is reinventing the business of publishing, and science funding at crisis levels, it's hard to predict what science will look like even five years from now. “May you live in interesting times” might not be a Chinese curse as often claimed, nevertheless for science and science publishing these are most certainly “interesting times”.

Fortunately, interesting times bring change, and with it opportunity. During the next several months, we will announce a number of initiatives that reflect our commitment to keeping Developmental Dynamics your journal of choice for publishing high quality research in the areas of developmental biology, regeneration, and the developmental mechanisms underlying human disease. These include an updated journal format, streamlined review procedures, expanded article offerings, and several international initiatives.

We will introduce these changes while remaining committed to principles that have made Developmental Dynamics exceptionally strong. Gary Schoenwolf, who for the past ten years guided the journal as Editor-in-Chief, championed the phrase “fast, fair, and friendly” to reflect our commitment to authors, readers and the scientific community. During Gary's tenure, Developmental Dynamics became a leader in reducing the time from submission to first decision, which last year averaged just 18 days. We will continue seeking ways to streamline the review process while ensuring that the quality and integrity of reviewing is maintained. Much has been written about author dissatisfaction with increasingly onerous reviews and requests for additional data. Partly in response, new journals have arisen that advertise less rigorous review and rapid publication. While rapid reviewing is a laudable goal, achieving it at the expense of quality threatens the integrity of the scientific literature, and with it the entire scientific enterprise. At Developmental Dynamics we are committed to being as fast and as fair as we can, while maintaining our high quality review process.

I would like to thank Gary for ten years of outstanding service to Developmental Dynamics. Through his efforts and those of Paul Goetinck before him, the journal is firmly established as a highly respected publication in the field. I look forward to continuing their legacy, and along with the Board of Associate Editors to serving authors and readers to the best of our ability.