About this Author
DBL%20Hendrix%20small.png College chemistry, 1983

Derek Lowe The 2002 Model

Dbl%20new%20portrait%20B%26W.png After 10 years of blogging. . .

Derek Lowe, an Arkansan by birth, got his BA from Hendrix College and his PhD in organic chemistry from Duke before spending time in Germany on a Humboldt Fellowship on his post-doc. He's worked for several major pharmaceutical companies since 1989 on drug discovery projects against schizophrenia, Alzheimer's, diabetes, osteoporosis and other diseases. To contact Derek email him directly: Twitter: Dereklowe

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In the Pipeline

« Help Wanted - I Hope | Main | The Race Is On »

November 10, 2006

Publish, Then Perish

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Posted by Derek

It's not my intention to turn the site into a Saga of the Job Hunt, although that will be a recurring subject for a while. (I'd like to thank everyone for their expressions of support in yesterday's post, by the way. Much appreciated). The immediate future is fine - I'll still be at the workplace into December, and my lovely-parting-gifts package from the Wonder Drug Factory looks like it can take me a good way into next year if needed.

One interesting side effect of all this has to do with the side project described (elliptically) in the Birth of an Idea posts. Weirdly, the rapid end of normal research work at my site has opened a window of opportunity to get some of my off-the-radar samples looked at, and I plan to take advantage of that. I'm setting up a good-sized run of experiments to go over this weekend, for example.

I also hope to write up these results as quickly as possible, and for a better journal than I've appeared in to date. So here's a question: which journal? I think that this has a good shot at Angewandte Chemie or JACS, but I'm also considering really going for broke and sending it somewhere like Science or Nature. Can anyone speak to the reception that organic/medicinal chemistry manuscripts get in these venues? And are there other places I should consider (PNAS, for instance)? I realize that it's hard to judge this sort of thing without knowing quite what the manuscript is about. . .

Comments (9) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: Birth of an Idea


1. Petros on November 10, 2006 4:54 AM writes...


I can't speak specifically for the reception that NAture or Science would give such a paper but my own experience was that any decision is very much at the mercy of which referees they pick.

One collaborative paper I had, that combined two hot areas of the time, went to Nature and only got rejected ona casting vote. Eventually it surfaced in Prostaglandins!

One benefit of those prestige journals is thatd ecisions are usually quick, and remember that the papers are also short.

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2. Greg Hlatky on November 10, 2006 6:06 AM writes...

It's always good for industrial chemists to publish as much as they can, for example, after the patent application has published. That way if one finds oneself in Derek's unfortunate position, the most prominent item on the CV won't be "Attended 72,846 safety meetings".

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3. Derek Lowe on November 10, 2006 8:32 AM writes...

Man, does that ring true. One comment I heard while we were all walking over the to Big Announcement was "Well, no more safety meetings anyway!"

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4. qetzal on November 10, 2006 8:51 AM writes...


Sorry to hear about the job. Serves as a stark reminder that being in big pharma doesn't necessarily mean better job security than being in small biotech (where I am). The reasons for being laid off may differ (big companies cut back, reorganize, & close divisions, small companies just disappear), but the odds don't seem to be that different.

Best of luck in your job search. I suspect you'll do well.

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5. Chaz on November 10, 2006 9:46 AM writes...

Shoot for the sky. Submit to Science or Nature or Cell. If your paper is accepted, you win. If not, what have you lost?

Will the Wonder Drug Factor let you publish after The Dreaded Date? or does it all become theirs?

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6. Joshua on November 10, 2006 10:32 AM writes...

Derek - I'm really sorry to hear that your site is being closed down... Good luck with the job hunt!

If you would like to get rapid feedback from the editors of Nature, you can submit a presubmission inquiry (click here for more info). We try to send feedback/decisions on presubmission inquiries within 1-2 business days.

Joshua (an Associate Editor at Nature)

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7. Jose on November 10, 2006 11:45 AM writes...

Sorry to hear about things, Derek. The industry is in shambles, adn it is quite sad to see.

As for your publishing, wow! The tidbits you've shared have sounded very interesting, but I didn't expect it to be JACS or above vintage- that means it is novel is the true sense of the word; congrats!!

My feeling is that Angew has simpler requirements, and probably faster turnaround than the ACS journals; PNAS seems a little too far afield for most of your likely audience, but Science or Nature would be one hell of a publication!

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8. anon on November 10, 2006 6:40 PM writes...

ACIE might have faster turnaround, but that's probably because of their low quality of refereeing. I've been shocked at how poorly some of the papers are backed up by supporting information for that journal, I've lost most of my faith in it having high quality publications. JACS or better if it really is hot stuff.

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9. Paras Chopra on December 4, 2006 8:50 AM writes...

It is really scary to hear that pharma industry is going through troubles. The news is more than enough for undergrads like me to discourage us from doing PhDs in computational biology, bioengineering, etc. Is the scene at industry really bleak?

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