I was talking to a non-scientist friend the other day about the publishing process in academia. He was asking me whether academics hype or promote their papers in advance of submission to make their acceptance into a journal more likely. While the simple answer is not really, I guess it is a bit more complicated than that in reality.

I’m not sure if it would count as hype or promotion, but the weight of a name goes a long way in academia. It certainly seems that once you’ve published in a top-tier journal the door is open to publish there again. Perhaps those of us who are trying to get their foot in the door should be doing a bit more networking to make friends with the people already publishing there. This would certainly make a difference for PNAS and similar journals with a two-tiered submission setup.

I think one of the most successful ways for scientists to promote their research is to make it seem “sexy”. These days, throw in an “HIV vaccine” here, a “cancer-killing” there and maybe a stem cell for good measure and you’ve got the making of a top paper, whether or not the content warrants it.

Many successful promotions in science occur following submission of the article. Take, for instance, the recent example of the arsenic-based life paper. It could have easily been published and sneaked under the radar, ruffling the feathers of just a few in a sub-field. But instead, thanks to a little post-acceptance/pre-publishing hype it was everywhere!

But my friend got me thinking that in science, as in many fields, it is often those that manage hype that have the most success. So my new goal is to puff myself up. I’m going to run around screaming “Heatpocalypse!!!!! The end is nigh!” and see if I can’t get myself a little funding. I’m going to make it seem like my no-one-cares-about-this virus is the craziest thing since Ebola. Wish me luck!

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