Saturday, December 31, 2016

Ecological Sculpture Trail in Newton

Posted by Richard Primack

“I do not know but a pine wood is as substantial and memorably a fact as a friend.” 
-Thoreau, in his Journal. 

Kennard Park on Dudley Road in Newton hosted a sculpture exhibit this autumn by 16 guest artists. The art works were displayed throughout the conservation area, and had environmental, historical, and sustainable development themes. 

One exhibit had brightly colored fabric strung between trunks of pine trees to demonstrate the interconnectedness of individuals and species in ecological communities:

A large metallic flower uses petals to collect water in a storage tank that can used to irrigate a garden, reducing demand on the city’s water supply:

In the forest, ceramic birds are placed on tree trunks to remind us of the hundreds of millions of birds that are no longer present due to the destruction of their habitats both in the United States and in their tropical overwintering grounds:

For more information, check out the curator's notes on the Kennard Park exhibit.

Friday, December 23, 2016

Who reviews articles for scientific journals?

Posted by Richard Primack

“I sometimes despair of getting anything quite simple and honest done in this world by the help of men.”
-Henry David Thoreau in Walden

Scientific journals depend on scientists willing to provide anonymous reviews of papers submitted for publication. Scientists are not paid for writing reviews, but do this as a service to their profession and to gain access to the most recent research. So, who is reviewing papers?

In a recent study, we examined 11,840 invitations to review articles sent to 6,555 different reviewers for the journal Biological Conservation. Among the most interesting findings were:

1. Most of the reviewers were from the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, and Australia, and less than 1% of the reviewers came from populous countries like India and China.

Distribution of Biological Conservation reviewers by country of affiliation in 2014 and 2015.
(Figure 1 from Primack et al.)

2. E
ditors sent out an average of 6.7 invitations per paper.
3. Reviewers accepted 37% of our invitations.
4. 90% reviewers completed their review following accepting an invitation.
5. Most reviews were submitted on time.
6. Reviewers who were fast with one review tended to be fast with another.

Our major recommendation from this study is that Editors for Biological Conservation, and probably also for other journals, should invite more reviewers from under-represented countries. We are grateful to Biological Conservation reviewers for the high rates at which they accept and complete reviews, and for completing reviews in a timely manner!

You can find the full article from Biological Conservation HERE.