Crowd Sourcing 2: Electric Boogaloo

It’s week two, and I’m top of all of my leagues! Like all of them, every single one. Even the Big Scary Monsters one, and that has like 153 folks in. As some of you may remember last year I decided against picking my own fantasy team, and use all of you to help me pick. By using “Crowd Sourcing” I chose the most chosen players to fill out my fantasy team.

Instantly, I found out that my team would be too expensive, and contained 4 players from both Manchester United and Arsenal. I had to be selective, and worked out something their “Fantasy Football Superhero Status!” Basically the amount of teams chosen is normalised to their value. So, to include expensive players they have to be chosen by a large proportion of teams. Makes sense right?

Well it didn’t! My team was terrible, and I gave up. Every week I had to make multiple transfers to get the most popular players. My algorithm predicted that James Collins was becoming the most popular man in football, and I lost faith in my system.

It was your fault! All of you! You changed your minds so often, and kept in terrible players! Your decision to include so many cheap players to keep your costs down crippled me.

So, this year I decided to give it another go. I’m nothing if not a scientist, and I decided to tinker with my algorithm. This post is going to get quite maths, so sorry about that.

Also, sorry to any real maths-folks, as this is very much not proper maths.

First, let’s see how many you lot did at picking. Unfortunately, I’m going to have to use last year’s points as a guide, but have a little look at this mess.

price vs points

That’s basically looking at how the cost of a player compares to the numbers of points they got last year. There is a significant correlation between how much a player costs, and how many points they got. Let’s see how people choices correlate…

% vs Points

So, what does that look like to you? Almost the same? I’m afraid not. Whilst there is still a significant correlation between the percentage of teams that players are chosen in, the Pearson Correlation Coefficient is lower. This basically means that the slope of the curve is less steep, which generally means that the correlation is smaller.

(In case you were wondering who that fellow with the highest number of points last year, but who has not been chosen in many teams is, it’s Alexis Sanchez.)

Anyway, this should be expected as it’s how they calculate the value of the players, and obviously it doesn’t help me picking a team, as all the highest value players would cripple my £100 million. I guess I should pick players above the line, but just because they did well last year doesn’t mean much for the next one, hey Leicester?

So, I guess, you can ignore all of this so far… quickly now, on to the next thing…

Let’s get rid of chance. As unlikely as it may seem, there is always a chance that a player is randomly picked, so let’s get rid of those players.

At the beginning of the season there were 45 goalkeepers, and 2 opportunities to pick, so the ‘keepers could literally be picked 1st or 2nd, giving us the following equation

Likelihood of being picked = 1/45 + 1/44

This means that just picking a ‘keeper at random would mean that players would be chosen in 4.5% of teams. Pretty high hey? I’m going to call this value the Ederson-Federici Frontier (EFF) as these are currently the goalkeepers which straddle this line.

We want a player that is “significantly” chosen more than chance. But how to determine significance? For the majority of science to become significant a p value of 0.05 or lower is needed. This means that probability of seeing an outcome is 95%. In what is a gross over-simplification I’ve literally decided to just add 5% to the FEC, meaning that for a ‘keeper to be chosen in significantly more teams than chance they have to be in 9.5% of team. This will be called the Heaton-Begovic Line (HBL).

This means that from the 45 ‘keepers in the game, only 8 of them are chosen in significantly more teams that they would be. This are

David de Gea
Ben Foster
Robert Elliot
Thibault Courtois
Joe Hart
Jordan Pickford
Hugo Lloris
Tom Heaton

I think it’s fairly obvious to see which are being chosen as first choice, and which are a cheap back up hey?

So, I’ll save you having to re-read all of that for every position here are the deets

Defenders
Starting number (n1) = 164
The Danilo-Yedlin Frontier = 2.5%
The McCauley-Vertonghen Line = 7.5%
Final number (n2) = 20

Midfielders 
n1 = 198
The Arnautovic-Pedro Frontier = 2.1%
The Mane-Capoue Line = 7.1%
n2 = 17

Strikers
n1 = 66
The Vardy-Solanke Frontier = 3.1%
The Aguero-Gayle Line = 8.1%
n2 = 11

That cuts down my options considerably, and stops me from thinking that maybe Capoue will have a good season again.

Now, how else did I waste my time. Let’s have some graphs.

points

So, on the left hand side we see the average number of points per postion, and on the right how many points the best players in each position got. It seems that overall forwards get more points, defenders and ‘keepers get very similar points. and midfielders are the worst. However, when you look at the players with the highest points, midfielders boss it, and goalies are the worst. Let’s see how good you are at picking.

points

So, it’s slightly worse, but again that’s to be expected. However, there are a couple of huge differences in the defence and midfield. You lot are terrible at picking two-third of the players. Regardless of whether or not I use FFSS you guys are significantly worse at picking defenders and midfielders. (Obviously the low n number on goalies and strikers could be hiding any significance, but shush!)

Let’s build that in, and work out how good you idiots are. By calculating the ratio between the top chosen players, and the top scoring players, it gives me a good deal of validity of your choices.

range

Basically, de Gea and Lukaku are definitely in, but there is so much overlap.

The goalkeepers are clearly split into different groups; de Gea wins, and then the second ‘keeper should be chosen from Foster, Elliot, Courtois and possibly Hart. The forwards are similar; 3 out of Lukaku, Kane, Chicarito and Rooney would be the best bet. But Firminho, Lacazette and Defoe are all decent choices.

Defenders and midfielders are a bit tougher, so I think I may have to just make my own choices. These numbers are also skewed  by the cheap players. I don’t have anything against him, but I don’t think Rangel will be the highest scoring defender, and I definitely don’t think Crystal Palace should have 3 of the top 10 midfielders.

So I’m just going to wing it. I’ve already cut down 473 players to 56, by removing chance. I can choose more than a quarter of those players, and obviously win the league…

Sorry leagues.

I’m sure this won’t come back to bite me in the ass

 

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Week 4 – 25 Points

And it got worse.

Player Cost % of teams Superhero Status Points
David de Gea 5.5 46.5 8.45 2
John Stones 5.0 31.4 6.28 2
Hector Bellerin 6.5 26.8 4.12 2
Wes Morgan 5.0 24.5 4.90 0
Gareth McAuley 4.7 21.2 4.51 2
Luke Shaw 5.6 25.0 4.46 1
Philippe Coutinho 8.2 30.8 3.76 1
Eden Hazard 10.2 32.3 3.17 1
Alvaro Negredo 6.9 30.5 4.42 2
Zlatan Ibrahimovic 11.8 60.3 5.11 10
Sergio Aguero 13.0 37.0 2.85
                                                                                                              Subs
Eldin Jakupovic 4.1 20.5 5.00
Etienne Capoue 4.7 19.3 4.11
Darren Fletcher 4.5 12.3 2.73
N’Golo Kante 5.0 21.1 4.22 2

And I’ve plummeted down the tables. I’m not bottom in any of them, but not far off.

So, let’s make some changes shall we?

Goalies haven’t changed.

My first big decision, and the first time the stats have genuinely upset me. Hector, I’m sorry. You may be fast as anything, but I’m afraid you’re leaving, Kyle Walker is in. I tried my best to prevent this. It’s horrible replacing my own right back, whom I rate above most other right backs in the league, for a Spud. I was tempted to alter my rules so I could have kept Hector by dropping McAuley, but that’s emotion. That has no place in my fantasy system.

My terrible, terribly fantasy system.

The rise of James Collins continues. I am dumbfounded. As you’ll see from the graph below at the beginning of the season, he was wanted by no-one, selected in 0.9% of teams. After I instigated my policy of only tracking the 30 most popular players in each position he fell off the radar.

Until 3 weeks ago that is.

slide1

After the international break his stock had risen further, and has continued every week. He is now in 10.1% of teams, making him the 14th most popular defender and given his low price, an FFSS of 2.2 Alexs*.  Based on this rate of growth I confidently predict James Collins to be the most popular defender in two years, being present in 100% of teams by the 23rd Oct 2018. You saw it here first!

So, onto midfield and no real changes to my team. Pogba’s disappearance in the derby last weekend has had him dropped from a large amount of teams. He had been steadily sneaking up to about 15% of teams, reaching a high of 15.7% before the international break. Now he’s only a measly 1.56 Alexs. Even Jermain Defoe has more than that.

slide2

In other news Santi Cazorla has finally made it into the top 30 midfielders, with a FFSS of exactly 1 Alex. I’m not saying we’re the same, but…

…technically everyone else is. I don’t decide these numbers!

And up front, Aguero has finally dropped low enough to get dropped. His “brutal” elbow and consequent lack of playing time has given him a score of only 1.8 Alexs. So, who has taken his place I hear you ask. None other than definitely-not-brutal Diego Costa. And so I won’t be accused of being biased, here’s a graph of Aguero’s demise, coupled with the rise of Costa.

slide3So, again I suffer from making too many changes, but hopefully that’ll help dig me out of this hole I’m in. Zlatan stays as captain, and Capoue gets a place in the first 11.

Player Cost % of teams Superhero Status
David de Gea 5.5 46.2 8.40
John Stones 5.0 30.9 6.18
Kyle Walker 5.7 26.2 4.60
Wes Morgan 5.0 23.6 4.72
Luke Shaw 5.6 24.4 4.36
Etienne Capoue 4.8 26.7 5.56
Philippe Coutinho 8.2 28.3 3.45
Eden Hazard 10.3 34.3 3.33
Alvaro Negredo 6.9 30.1 4.36
Zlatan Ibrahimovic 11.8 63.3 5.36
Diego Costa 9.9 23.7 2.39
                                                                                    Subs
Eldin Jakupovic 4.1 21.0 5.12
Gareth McAuley 4.7 23.4 4.98
Darren Fletcher 4.5 11.1 2.47
N’Golo Kante 4.9 19.0 3.88

 

 

* If you missed my decision to call the units for the FFSS “Alexs” have a look at last weeks entry.

If you only read the books that everyone else is reading, you can only think what everyone else is thinking

We got a paper published the other month. In an attempt to increase science on here, and improve my ability to talk about complicated matters I’m going to do explain it to you dumb-dumbs.*

So, muscles can spit out a bunch of stuff; these are called myokines. When you do exercise your muscle starts spitting out more things. Some of these then move throughout your body and have positive effects elsewhere. This is one of the reasons why exercise is good for you.

In Type 2 Diabetes, your muscle becomes worse. It becomes insulin resistant, and stops taking up glucose after insulin stimulation. Skeletal muscle from Type 2 diabetics is weaker, and less able to function properly. So does Type 2 Diabetes affect the muscle’s ability to spit out all that junk? Does it now spit out nasty things?

Hell yeah it does! Both times.

We took muscle from people with and without diabetes and grew muscle cells in the lab. (You know those guys who grew a burger in the lab? Ted and Bob basically invented that technique!) We found out that muscle cells from Type 2 diabetics secretes more nasty proteins, and that a lot of these nasty proteins are high in the blood of the same folks. A lot of these myokines are pro-inflammatory, which you can imagine are usually the bad guys.

We then treated the cells with some pro- and anti-inflammatory things, to see if that would effect the muscle in different ways. Muscle cells from Type 2 diabetics responded more abruptly to pro-inflammatory stimuli (palmitate and LPS) suggesting that these cells are “primed” by the disease. Another difference was seen with anti-inflammatory stimuli. Using the diabetic medicine pioglitazone diabetic muscle secretes less nasty junk, but oleate, a anti-inflammatory dietary lipid, had a diminished affect.

Take that chumps obsessed with “natural” things over medications, you bags of dummies.

So what does this all of this do? Well we looked at the effect on muscle itself. This called an “autocrine*” effect. So we looked at the two functions of muscle; glucose uptake, with and without insulin; and oxidation of fatty acids. Both of these are diminished in Type 2 Diabetic muscle. Whilst there was no real difference in glucose uptake (apart from pioglitazone increasing it all), the fatty acid oxidation was increased by palmitate and pioglitazone treatment. This is a bit strange as they have opposite effects on myokine secretion.

Now for potentially some more confusing science.

Muscle cells from Type 2 diabetics have higher levels of pro-inflammatory proteins than muscle cells from non-diabetics. When you stick pro-inflammatory stimuli on Type 2 diabetic muscle the cells are already maxed out, whereas muscle from non-diabetics suddenly have increased pro-inflammatory signalling. Conversely, anti-inflammatory stimuli have no effect on the non-diabetic cells as they are already sorted, but muscle from Type 2 diabetics responds properly and the pro-inflammatory signalling is decreased.

So, what have we learnt?

Muscle cells from Type 2 diabetics secretes a whole bunch of nasty things.
Diabetes medication may lower this secretion.
Possibly because they are maxed out on pro-inflammatory pathways.
However, the myokines may not contribute effectively to muscle function.

Does that all make sense? I bet you’re wondering if these myokines have other effects aren’t you? Well they do, and when my next paper gets accepted they’ll do even more.

Today’s quote is from Haruki Murakami

* Or you know, people who don’t care about myokines.

**”auto” for self and “crine” for erm… well I think it’s taken from endocrinology and the endocrine system, basically meaning the spitting out of things, which in turn have an effect. Jeez this is going terribly.

Week 3 – 34 Points

Oh, the pride before the fall.

Player Cost % of teams Superhero Status Points
David de Gea 5.5 46.7 8.49 6
John Stones 5.0 35.1 7.02 1
Hector Bellerin 6.5 27.5 4.23 2
Wes Morgan 5.0 23.5 4.70 8
Kyle Walker 5.6 24.0 4.29 1
Luke Shaw 5.6 23.7 4.23 6
Philippe Coutinho 8.2 31.6 3.85 2
Riyad Mahrez 9.5 27 2.84 0
Alvaro Negredo 6.7 25.6 3.82 2
Zlatan Ibrahimovic 11.7 55.7 4.76 4
Sergio Aguero 13.1 53.1 4.05 2
                                                                                            Subs
Eldin Jakupovic 4.0 18.8 4.70
Etienne Capoue 4.6 13.9 3.02
Darren Fletcher 4.5 13.6 3.02
N’Golo Kante 5.0 22.9 4.58

A terrible week for me, capped off by the fact that my midfielder on the bench did better than those on the pitch. Damn you algorithm!

It’s international week now, so there’s a bit of a lull.

I’ve been tracking the changes, over the last couple of weeks. Alexis Sanchez, Eric Bailly and Eden Hazard are streaking up. Aguero is plummeting, probably due to his ban. But everything is finally looking somewhat consistent. I’ve played my wildcard, and took a 4 point hit last week, so that’s all good for me.

Goalkeepers stay the same. Claudio Bravo is picked by surprisingly few team (0.5% as of writing).

Juan Carlos Paredas has been taken off the game, strange that hey? Not that he’s in my team, but his FFSS was consistently near the top. Spurs’ defenders continue to stagnate and Gareth McAuley has stormed up. So sorry Kylie, you’ve been replaced. Arsenal new boy Shkodran Mustafi has been selected by 0.3% of teams, similar to unfortunate benchwarmer Matthieu Debuchy. Bearing in mind that Hector is Arsenal’s first choice right back and the second most chosen defender (26.8% of teams) it seems even stranger.

Midfielder stay fairly similar. As I said before Hazard has snuck up on me, and has actually replaced Mahrez, with a FFSS of 3.17, compared to Mahrez’s 2.44.  Poor old Mahrez is now below Ross Barkley. Looks like I’m starting this week 4 points down again…

As I mentioned above Aguero’s stock is decreasing. Still he’s ahead of Vardy in 4th place buy a full…unit? I don’t know, do I need to add a unit to my FFSS? Can I call them an Alex? I do love the idea of stating Jamie Vardy is a full Alex below Aguero;  Romelu Lukaku and Wayne Rooney are less than one Alex; together all of Arsenal’s signing this year are only 1.39 Alexes, with Xhaka being slightly worse than Alex.

I bet that won’t get annoying…

Iheanacho is sneaking in with a FFSS of 0.25, only the 29th most popular striker. Zlatan stays as captain with 60.3% and De Gea vice-captain with 46.5%. Apparently the fantasy football folks have picked my team for this weekend. Stupidly (because of the stupid system I set up) Aguero still makes my starting 11.

Player Cost % of teams Superhero Status
David de Gea 5.5 46.5 8.45
John Stones 5.0 31.4 6.28
Hector Bellerin 6.5 26.8 4.12
Wes Morgan 5.0 24.5 4.90
Gareth McAuley 4.7 21.2 4.51
Luke Shaw 5.6 25.0 4.46
Philippe Coutinho 8.2 30.8 3.76
Eden Hazard 10.2 32.3 3.17
Alvaro Negredo 6.9 30.5 4.42
Zlatan Ibrahimovic 11.8 60.3 5.11
Sergio Aguero 13.0 37.0 2.85
Subs
Eldin Jakupovic 4.1 20.5 5.00
Etienne Capoue 4.7 19.3 4.11
Darren Fletcher 4.5 12.3 2.73
N’Golo Kante 5.0 21.1 4.22

 

Whether you sniff it smoke it eat it or shove it up your ass the result is the same: addiction

I don’t live a hard life. My problems can be loosely summed up as “first world”, or specifically as “where shall I keep all my basses? (especially as one doesn’t have a headstock and I can’t hang it on the wall.)”

So, believe me I don’t mean it lightly when I say stopping biting my nails is the hardest thing I have ever done!

I received a PhD with no corrections, I’ve spent entire nights in the lab, I’ve moved half way across the world by myself, and been mugged at gun point. But all of that was more fun than stopping myself chewing on myself.

It bloody sucks!

I’m getting married in 3 months, and I’ve been told that people like to take photos of your hand for some dumb reason. Also, “[t]here aren’t many habits that hold a worse reputation than nail biting.” Rude hey?

Although, it does mention that nail biters may be healthier. The other week “I F***ing Love Science” shared an article from the journal Pediatrics, suggesting that kids who bite their nails and suck their thumbs have fewer allergies. As a kid I did both of those things, and have managed to kick one of them habits. Probably later than I care to admit…

This report looked at the “hygiene hypothesis” that exposing yourself to a bag of nasties as child improved your immune system in the long run. Specifically by preventing your body from going into overdrive, and causing allergic reactions. Basically that is all your body does when suffering an allergic reaction. At some point your body has decided it hates something, so from now on whenever you interact with this thing you react like a jerk and kick off.

So, what did this report find? Well a third of kiddywinks bite their nail or suck their thumbs, and more girls than boys do both. And more interestingly, that doing this has no effect on the rate of asthma or hayfever. I get hayfever, but not asthma (despite an overzealous doctor deciding I did for about a fortnight.), so it’s no surprise to me that biting my nails doesn’t effect that.

However, biting nails can stop “atopic sensitization.” So what’s atopic sensitization I hear you scream into the abyss. Roughly it’s a hypersensitization in response to skin-prick tests, commonly resulting in eczema or similar skin ailments. You’ve probably seen on TV when House or some other doctor pricks patients’ with various allergens to see what the person is allergic to. In this study they used house dust mite, grass, cat, dog, horse, kapok, wool and a bunch of fungi.

Although they haven’t really examined individual allergens they showed that only 38% of those with an “oral habit” (their words not mine) showed atopic sensitization compared to nearly half of those with no habit. Interestingly, the results are somewhat additive. 49% of kids with no oral habits have atopic sensitization, whilst 40% of those with one habit do. If you suck your thumb and bite your nails only 31% of folks have atopic sensitization.

So, what does this suggest in reality? Can I use this as an excuse to keep biting my nails?

Well, no. Kind of. The study is really short. Also, it showed that biting your nails before the age of 13 can offer long term protection, so I guess I can stop doing it now. Also, I have eczema and an allergic to cats, so thanks a lot shoving-dirty-fingers-in-my-mouth you’ve done nothing for me!

There’s also some evidence that biting nails is a form of OCD, where you become hyper-aware of your appearance. Although it is linked to skin biting and trichotillomania (pulling your hair out) so it’s clearly not improving your appearance. And considering my version of “dressing up” is just sticking a checkered shirt over whatever band T shirt I have on, I don’t think I can use that excuse either.

Also, there’s this Buzzfeed article full of hyperbole to scare you off.

And my fiancée will probably beat me up if I ruin her wedding photos. So left hand I will leave you alone!

 

Today’s quote is from William S. Burrough.
I am in no way claiming that giving up heroin is as hard as me stopping biting my nails…

 

August Wrap Up

August has been a busy month.

I wrote about obesity and the fact that diet and laziness is more to blame than your genes.

My monthly Postdoc Problem involved the difficulties of trying to publish.

But here’s a bunch of stuff I’ve read this month which I didn’t have time to write about.

Breast Cancer
A genetic test can be used to identify whether or not breast cancer sufferers need to undergo chemotherapy. “[N]early half of women with early-stage breast cancer who would traditionally receive chemo can avoid it, with little risk of the cancer coming back or spreading in the next five years.”
For those who do have to take chemotherapy, a small study suggested that having a positive outlook can improve side effects. “Women taking hormonal therapies as part of their breast cancer treatment experienced twice as many side effects if they held negative expectations, compared to women who believed the side effects would not be as bad.”

In-Vitro Fertilisation
A new method called in-vitro maturation may help improve IVF, removing the drugs necessary for effective fertilisation. “IVM is likely the future of reproductive medicine, avoiding the need for costly drugs and any detrimental effect of those drugs on the mother or offspring.”

Obesity
That’s right!  I could have written a whole bunch more about obesity.
A study coming out of Texas A&M University Health Science Center has suggested that standing desks should be present in schools, potentially lowering obesity in children. “[S]tudents who had the standing desks for two years averaged a three percent drop in BMI while those in sitting desks showed the two percent increase typically associated with getting older. Even kids who spent just a year with the desks were found to have a noticeable drop in BMI.”
It’s important to keep a healthy weight, as it can have life long effects. It turns out being fat in middle-age can affect your brain a decade later! Overweight people have less white matter, which is important for efficient signalling. “The volume of white matter in the brains of overweight people at 50 were similar to that seen in the brains of lean people at 60.” Although, the study found no differences in cognitive ability, white matter is affected in multiple sclerosis and Alzheimer’s disease.
Surgery is a severe treatment for obesity. A very recent abstract from New Zealand looked at gastric bypass vs a sleeve gastrectomy, with regards to weight loss, diabetes remission and interestingly gut microbiota. The microbiome is currently a sexy beast, and there are plenty of studies looking at the effects of diet on the bacteria which live in your gut, as well as the effects that the bacteria can have on your body. Murphy et al. found that there is a greater difference in the microbiome after a gastric bypass. This coincided with an increase in diabetes remission, potentially because the bacteria can produce “metabolically favourable” short-chain fatty acids.

Diabetes
Diabetes increased mortality risk for cardiovascular death; cancer death; and noncardiovascular noncancer death” Sad face doesn’t even really cover it. A huge study looking at 55,292 people showed that diabetes is directly correlated with a higher rate of mortality.
However, it’s probably not because of a fatty pancreas. “Fatty pancreas was not independently associated with future [Type 2 Diabetes] T2DM.”

Death
So when are you dead? Seeing as you can keep people alive by manually keeping their heart beating, and people survive after being “brain-dead” so who knows really? I don’t know, but there was a recent article in New Scientist that showed that “hundreds” of gene are switched on after death. Normally, DNA breaks down, giving “chaotic” unpredictable results. However, “548 zebrafish genes and 515 mouse genes saw one or more peaks of activity after death;” up to 96 hours after death. Interestingly, this suggests a hugely accurate way of determining the time of death.

Postdoc Problems
Turns out short-term “temporary” contracts aren’t conducive to a happy life. “PhD graduates are not exempt from the negative influences of temporary employment” and that a permanent contract increases job satisfaction. No wonder people are turning away from an academic career. Good news for me hey?..

I have to keep going, as there are always people on my track. I have to publish my present work as rapidly as possible in order to keep in the race

The other day I received an email from EMBO Molecular Medicine informing me that they have received a manuscript with me as an author. This paper is one I’ve snuck on from my work in San Diego. So, a few days later, when I saw a talk from an EMBO chief editor I thought that’d be too good to pass up. It was titled ‘Transparent Publishing & Open Science: how to share reproducible data’ but the part I was most interested in is the editorial process.

If you’ve never had the joy(?..) of submitting a paper, here’s how it is supposed to go.

  1. Discover something.
  2. Write a manuscript explaining what you’ve discovered.
  3. Edit the manuscript in-house, with all authors contributing to a final draft. (The authors are basically anyone who has contributed to the work in the manuscript, with the first author being the person who has contributed the most. Other authors are listed to the amount of contribution they have made, with the supervisor/senior member is usually the last author. For example, the paper “Why won’t Arsenal spend any money on players?” would be authored by Wenger, A., Usmanov, A., Moshiri, F and Kroenke S.)
  4. Submit to a journal.
  5. An editor at the journal assesses the merits of the manuscript and if it’s good enough, they then send the manuscript to 2 or 3 referees (also called reviewers).
  6. These referees critique your work, comparing it to previously published work, checking your conclusions are valid and providing feedback and improvements to the paper.
  7. Based on the referees’ comments the editor decided to; accept your manuscript as it is, tentatively accept it on the basis that you make a few changes, suggest a whole bunch of changes and reserve the right to reject it later, or outright reject it.

Here’s how it really goes.

  1. Set out to change the world.
  2. Spend far too long trying to discover something huge.
  3. Get towards the end of your contract and panic about what to publish.
  4. Work long, stressful hours. *
  5. Focus on getting the necessary results to finish your paper.
  6. Scrabble together a manuscript full of hyperbole.
  7. Have said manuscript demolished by your supervisor. *
  8. Re-write manuscript.
  9. Repeat 6 and 7
  10. Have manuscript destroyed by co-authors. *
  11. Repeat 6 and 9
  12. Argue about positioning of authors.
  13. Include any and all collaborators to keep them happy.
  14. Include idiots who may have attempted to contribute at some point.
  15. Ensure all authors have the chance to look through the manuscript, but ignore any changes they suggest.
  16. Submit to a high impact journal.
  17. Get rejected. *
  18. Submit to a journal with a lower impact
  19. Get rejected.
  20. Repeat 17 as necessary, until your manuscript is sent to reviewers.
  21. Get rejected. *
  22. Back to 17.
  23. Receive corrections from referees, outlining complicated experiments which take a lot of money and time to carry out. Most of these will be unnecessary additional experiments. *
  24. Attempt corrections, update manuscript and resubmit.
  25. Get rejected. *
  26. Re-write paper fully to include corrections, and make it seem like these were always part of the plan and not hurriedly added on after referees’ comments.
  27. Submit to terrible journal with a low impact.
  28. Receive corrections from referees, and get manuscript tentatively accepted.
  29. Carry out additional experiments, and make changes to the manuscript.
  30. Eventually get accepted. *
  31. Pay huge fees to publish your work.

* If necessary “cry” can be inserted here.

Also this process may well take longer than I have suggested here. I’ve not gone into how awful referees or editors can be. (Although I’ve talked about referees before.)

However, that’s not what the EMBO journals are all about. They have a high rejection rate at first, which means that they can put a lot of effort into the papers which they do like. The first questions they ask are “Is it publishable?” and “what is the minimum changes to make it publishable?”

Afterwards, they carry out “cross referee commenting”, which means that the referees can see what other reviewers have written. They can comment on each other’s comments, and communicate with each other. This means that the reviewers have a dialogue with each other and can give you more constructive feedback.

Furthermore, they keep track of the comments, and these can be accessed after a paper has been published. Officially this is great as it means you can get up to 4 expert reviews on each paper. Not only is this good because of the expertness, but because you get an insight into the what referees look at, and the types of comments successful manuscripts get. This is crucial to early-career scientists as they are unlikely to see many of them up close and personal. It encourages you to take a more attentive look at your own work to see if you can pass muster.

And unofficially it’s great because it means referee’s are held accountable for any mean things they say. You probably won’t call someone a “dick weasel” if it’s going to be stuck on the internet forever.

Also, they encourage an open dialogue between reviewers and the researchers. This even comes down to allowing the authors to respond to referees’ comments and defend their paper, before an editor makes their decision.

Ah, the paper’s been rejected… erm ignore all of that nice stuff I wrote above

Today’s quote is from Ernest Rutherford.