New publication: microbial mass movements

Delighted that our perspective in Science has been published.

Zhu Y-G, Gillings M, Simonet P, Stekel DJ, Banwart S and Penuelas J. Microbial mass movements. Science 357: 1099-1100.

My involvement is relatively minor: we have written a much longer piece (which we are looking to publish also) to which I have contributed a fairly substantial section on modelling – and then when Michael Gillings put together this short perspective for Science, he compressed everything I wrote into a single sentence! Maybe it is an improvement 🙂 Anyway, it is a real privelege to have coauthored which such amazing international scientists, and a delight that we have had it published in such a great journal.

Summary

For several billion years, microorganisms and the genes they carry have mainly been moved by physical forces such as air and water currents. These forces generated biogeographic patterns for microorganisms that are similar to those of animals and plants (1). In the past 100 years, humans have changed these dynamics by transporting large numbers of cells to new locations through waste disposal, tourism, and global transport and by modifying selection pressures at those locations. As a consequence, we are in the midst of a substantial alteration to microbial biogeography. This has the potential to change ecosystem services and biogeochemistry in unpredictable ways.

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Hoax papers in dodgy Open Access journals

Very interesting recent articles about the burgeoning problem of unscrupulous “open access journals”.

Guardian article: http://www.theguardian.com/higher-education-network/2013/oct/04/open-access-journals-fake-paper

Science article: http://www.sciencemag.org/content/342/6154/60.full

Good to note that PLoS ONE comes out well – they spotted the fraud.

However, it does raise important and interesting questions about the “policing” as it were of Open Access publications. Obviously there is scope for unscrupulous people to set up such “journals” that are really just fronts for making money out of unsuspecting scientists. So who’s role is it to police this? Universities? Governments? Other publishers? Researchers themselves? One certainly wouldn’t want to see the baby thrown out with the bathwater (as it were): the Open Access model has some very clear advantages – and there are highly reputable players (e.g. PLoS or OUP).