How to get published in Biological Conservation journal

Richard Primack, editor-in-chief of the journal Biological Conservation and professor at Boston University, came to the Duke Marine Lab to give a presentation on some of his research -- which used famous poet Henry David Thoreau's journal to track changing flowering dates and thereby track global warming. I rather enjoyed his talk.

Primack also discussed his position as editor-in-chief of Biological Conservation, and shared the following common reasons for why papers get rejected, which I'll share.

  1. They're on the wrong topic. Make sure your paper is relevant to the journal you're submitting it to!
  2. They're poorly written and poorly presented. This is particularly a problem for scientists from non-English countries; Primack encourages such scientists to collaborate with English speakers early on in the research process -- not only after it has been completed -- if they wish to publish in an English journal.
  3. They do not provide novel information; they document phenomenon already well-studied and well-understood. For example, the paper merely confirms provides "yet another" case study of something that has already been described.
  4. The science is not thorough enough. For example, if somebody conducted a study for just a few days in their backyard or collected too few data, the paper would be rejected for not being substantial enough.

In response to a student's question, Primack mentioned that his journal doesn't vet credentials (such as having a PhD), so if your science is noteworthy, it could get published no matter your background!

Primack RB, Miller-Rushing AJ. (2012). Uncovering, collecting and analyzing records to investigate the ecological impacts of climate change: A template from Thoreau's Concord. BioScience 62: 170-181.

Leave a Reply