10 February 2010

Slow conservation

Why conservation is a slow process?

A (small) part of the problem could be that it takes longer for conservation biologists to submit scientific papers than it does for other experts. This, at least, is the result of a recent study published in Conservation Biology.

After data collection, the average conservation biologist waits nearly two years to submit a paper. For a taxonomist it takes about 20 months, 17 for a behavioural scientist, and only 6 for an evolutionary biologist.

One of the challenges is therefore trying to submit a bit earlier, hoping this will encourage a ‘greener’ management.

Indeed, journal Editors also may play a role in delaying publication of conservation-oriented work.


Photo by Nciri Khaled at http://photo.net

For more information:

O’Donnell R., Supp S., Cobbold S. 2010. Hindrance of conservation biology by delays in the submission of manuscripts. Conservation Biology. DOI: 10.1111/j.1523-1739.2009.01424.x
Abstract - Timely dissemination of scientific findings depends not only on rapid publication of submitted manuscripts, a topic which has received much discussion, but also on rapid submission of research after the research is completed. We measured submission delay (time from the last date of data collection to the submission of a manuscript) for every paper from 14 journals in 2007 and compared these submission delays among four fields of biology (conservation, taxonomy, behavior, and evolution). Manuscripts published in leading journals in the field of conservation biology have the longest delays in publication of accepted manuscripts and the longest intervals between completion of research and submission of the manuscript. Delay in manuscript submission accounts for more than half of the total time from last date of data collection to publication. Across fields, the number of authors was significantly negatively correlated with submission delay, but conservation journals had the second highest number of authors and the greatest submission delay, so submission of conservation manuscripts was not hindered by a shortage of collaboration relative to other fields. Rejection rates were greater in conservation journals than in behavior and evolution, but rejection times were faster; thus, there were no obvious net differences among fields in the time papers spent waiting to be rejected. Publication delay has been reduced significantly in the last 7 years, but was still greater in conservation journals than in any of the other three fields we studied. Thus, the urgent field of conservation biology is hindered in both preparation and publication of manuscripts.

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