Publication Lag Times in Science Express
Did Fitzpatrick et al. receive expedited treatment from the editorial staff at Science magazine? To answer that question, I reviewed a sample of 27 papers published in Science Express between May 25 and July 13, 2006, and available online on July 13. I recorded dates of submission, acceptance, and publication, as recorded in the online publications, and then calculated lag times (in days) from submission to acceptance, acceptance to publication, and submission to publication. I then compared these lag times with those of Fitzpatrick et al. The results:
Lag time (in days) from submission to acceptance
Sample: Mean = 85, Median = 82, Range = 20 – 199 Fitzpatrick et al.: 19 (Submitted April 8, Accepted April 27)Lag time (in days) from acceptance to publication
Sample: Mean = 18, Median = 13, Range = 8 – 49Lag time (in days) from submission to publication
Fitzpatrick et al.: 1 (Accepted April 27, Published April 28)
Sample: Mean = 104, Median = 92, Range = 28 – 248The lag time from submission to publication of Fitzpatrick et al. was shorter than that of any of the other papers sampled. On average, the total elapsed time from submission to publication of Fitzpatrick et al. (20 days) was about one-fifth of the time taken to publish the other 27 papers.
Fitzpatrick et al.: 20 (Submitted April 8, Published April 28)
It is clear that Fitzpatrick et al. received expeditious treatment by the editorial staff of Science Express throughout the review process. The evidence shows that Jackson was right on that count. But it is not unusual for reports of important scientific breakthroughs or discoveries to be treated expeditiously by the editors of major scientific publications. And there is no evidence that this "quick peer review" in any way compromised the scientific integrity or quality of the paper.