World's Fair

Lots of future Nobel Laureates had their groundbreaking work rejected by scientific journals. Juan Miguel Campanario, a Physics Professor in Madrid, writes an article about it called “Rejecting Nobel class articles and resisting Nobel class discoveries.” But he can’t get it published.

Hmmmm. Do I smell a future Nobel Laureate?


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The abstract, for your benefit:

I review and discuss instances in which 27 future Nobel Laureates encountered resistance on part of scientific community towards their discoveries and instances in which 36 future Nobel Laureates encountered resistance on part of scientific journal editors or referees to manuscripts that dealt with discoveries that on later date would assure them the Nobel Prize. Although in some occasions the rejection of Nobel class papers could be justified, here I show that the danger that scientific journals disregard or delay important discoveries is real and it can be disastrous.

Although I don’t agree with the complete, decontextualized hindsight logic of the claims, it’s still interesting to look back and see the ways of peer review.

Note too that this guy’s actually talking about two things: first is the issue of resisting new discoveries; second is the matter of rejecting papers outright that later turn out to be quite novel and on the mark.

My good, dear co-blogger Dave will find this one especially interesting:

Michael Smith received the half of the 1993 Nobel Prize in Chemistry “for his fundamental contributions to the establishment of oligonucleiotide-based, site-directed mutageneis and its development of protein studies”. Here, again, a paper reporting the work for which the Nobel Prize was awarded was rejected when first submitted for publication. Eventually, the article ended up on pages of another journal and not surprisingly, its appearance attracted well-deserved scientific attention. Prof. Smith interpreted the rejection as a cause of “a subjective judgment by the editor of a journal to which many more manuscripts are submitted than could be published.”

(Campanario notes that his own work was referenced in a Nature editorial about peer rejection.)

And thanks to The Morning News guys for the link.

Comments

  1. #1 Scott Belyea
    March 29, 2007

    Lots of future Nobel Laureates had their groundbreaking work rejected by scientific journals.

    Careful … or you’ll get Behe, Dembski et al submitting sludge, having it rejected, and then saying, “See? Nobel material!!” :-)

  2. #2 Jonathan Vos Post
    March 29, 2007

    Kuhn. Paradigms.

  3. #3 Jonathan Vos Post
    March 29, 2007

    They All Laughed

    (George Gershwin, Ira Gershwin)

    The odds were a hundred to one against me
    The world thought the heights were too high to climb
    But people from Missouri never incensed me
    Oh, I wasn’t a bit concerned
    For from hist’ry I had learned
    How many, many times the worm had turned
    They all laughed at Christopher Columbus when he said the world was round
    They all laughed when Edison recorded sound
    They all laughed at Wilbur and his brother when they said that man could fly
    They told Marconi wireless was a phony, it’s the same old cry
    They laughed at me wanting you, said I was reaching for the moon
    But oh, you came through, now they’ll have to change their tune
    They all said we never could be happy, they laughed at us and how!
    But ho, ho, ho! Who’s got the last laugh now?
    They all laughed at Rockefeller Center, now they’re fighting to get in
    They all laughed at Whitney and his cotton gin
    They all laughed Fulton and his steamboat, Hershey and his chocolate bar
    Ford and his Lizzie, kept the laughers busy, that’s how people are
    They laughed at me wanting you, said it would be, “Hello, Goodbye.”
    But oh, you came through, now they’re eating humble pie
    They all said we’d never get together, darling, let’s take a bow
    For ho, ho, ho! Who’s got the last laugh?
    Hee, hee, hee! Let’s at the past laugh, Ha, ha, ha! Who’s got the last laugh now?