Science interminable: Blame Ben?
Science is indeed interminable. Criticizing old ideas, coming up with new ones in an iterative process of creative destruction and reinvention is the spice of life for research. But there is another seemingly interminable aspect of science, at least in the biomedical arena, related to journal publication. When I was a postdoctoral fellow with Julius “Julie” Axelrod at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) circa 1963–1965, a typical postdoctoral fellow might write several papers in a year. While snail mail and other technical limitations slowed progress, the overall research/publication process then was substantially briefer than now. The latency between initiating a project and writing a paper was often under a year, while today the process typically comprises 5 years or more. These discrepancies are perplexing, because today’s tools of biomedical research are vastly more powerful than those of 40–50 years ago. The techniques of molecular biology can provide definitive answers rather than mere suggestions.