Publication Strategy...If I can't beat 'em, I'll wait 'em out...

Mar 08 2011 Published by under Uncategorized

So I was chatting with someone about the Journal of Biological Chemistry, a solid journal whose IF suffers from the diverse amount of biochemical work, but still remains one of the top cited journals. So way way back in the day when future Nobel Prize winner Arthur Kornberg was trying to publish his discovery of E. coli DNA polymerase I, he chose to publish his work at JBC.

Based upon previous work on glycogen polymerization by glycogen phosphorylase by the Cori's, Kornberg assumed that Pol I just polymerized the nucleic acids but didn't give much thought to DNA also serving as a template for polymerization.  Upon recognition that the addition of all four of the dNTPs were necessary, he recognized that the DNA he added to the E. coli lysates served as both the primer and the template.

Kornberg wrote up his work into two separate reports and submitted both manuscripts to JBC in the fall of 1957.  The reviewers, to kindly put it as my mom would say, took poor Artie out back behind the woodshed.  Some of the scathing criticisms of the rejected paper included:

"It is very doubtful that the authors are entitled to speak of the enzymatic synthesis of DNA"

"Polymerase is a poor name."

"The authors had to show genetic activity in the synthetic substrate to qualify it as DNA."  (This had never been required before).

Rather than shop his papers to other manuscripts, Kornberg waited until John Edsall took the helm as Editor in Chief of JBC before resubmitting the papers which were eventually accepted and published in 1958.

So patience is a virtue after all.

If you are a bit of a science history nerd, you can find some correspondence between Edsall and Kornberg about the manuscripts here.

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