When Bad Flow Happens to Good Journals

Howard Shapiro hms at shapirolab.com
Fri Oct 19 10:37:07 EST 2001

The prestigious journals in cell biology, hematology, immunology, etc. pick
their peer reviewers for primary expertise in these individual fields, not
for in-depth knowledge of cytometry, flow or otherwise.  As cytometry
becomes easier to do (or appears easier to do) fewer of the peer reviewers
possess such in-depth knowledge, having abandoned the field to their
graduate students and postdocs.  And the graduate students and postdocs
figure they don't have to know much more than their bosses, since the folks
at the flow resource will solve most of their problems for them.  So, even
if the primary reviewer runs a manuscript by a graduate student or postdoc
who supposedly knows more about cytometry, the likelihood is that egregious
errors in the cytometry will sail right through if the rest of the science
looks right.  As a general rule, reviewers for Cytometry and Communications
in Clinical Cytometry catch the errors in cytometry; unfortunately, a lot
of the manuscripts that come to these journals have been rejected by more
prestigious journals because there were problems with the rest of the science.

It's nice that, within ISAC and the cytometry community, we continue to
address the question of how best to present and display results of
experiments involving cytometry.  However, even if we produce all the white
papers we want on the subject, it is unlikely that they will be read by or
exert influence on editors and reviewers convinced that cytometry is
unimportant enough to be left to the lower echelons.

The best we can do is educate our collaborators and those who use our
facilities; I'll take my best shot at this in the 4th Edition of Practical
Flow Cytometry, but I don't have a lot of people running samples on my
instruments.  Those of you who do may have more influence.


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