The story behind the papers

Posted by Guillaume Lobet on January 27, 2015 · 3 mins read

Published papers are only the tip of the research iceberg. The visible part is often a fraction of the results acquired over the years while the hidden part is made of sweat and perseverance. Of repeated cycles of failures and success. Of (lonely) hours in the lab or in front of a computer. Of writing, submitting, re-writing, re-submitting. The hidden part is where the people (we, as scientists) are. So, often, when I read a paper I wonder about the story behind the project. When did it start and how long did it take to achieve it all? Why did they choose such approach? In short, what is the story behind this paper?

the publishing iceberg Image credit: Pere, https://www.flickr.com/photos/pere/523019984/

Published papers are only the tip of the research iceberg. The visible part is often a fraction of the results acquired over the years while the hidden part is made of sweat and perseverance. Of repeated cycles of failures and success. Of (lonely) hours in the lab or in front of a computer. Of writing, submitting, re-writing, re-submitting. The hidden part is where the people (we, as scientists) are. So, often, when I read a paper I wonder about the story behind the project. When did it start and how long did it take to achieve it all? Why did they choose such approach? In short, what is the story behind this paper?

Then, recently, I remembered the Tree of Life blog, written by Jonathan Eisen. The blog features a Story behind the paper section, which I always found great. Written by Jonathan Eisen or invited contributors, each post is a about a recently (or not) published paper and brings a more human view of the research.

Of course, my writing skills and publication record are far more modest than J. Eisen’s. But I figured I might take his example and write about the story behind my own papers. I believe the scientific process is, in most case, as important as the results. From an educational point of view, it is crucial for futures scientist to understand how science is made so they can choose this path in full understanding of what lies ahead. I hope it will be useful to someone.


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