Elizabeth Blackburn on Publishing Science: Journals vs. Symposium Volumes
  Elizabeth Blackburn     Biography    
Recorded: 01 Jun 2000

I think it divides into two sections. I think what you’re saying about the review articles, it is true, and it’s the timing, partly, of publication. You know production of a book is inherently slower than production of a journal. And people who have been part of that, that know you don’t want to wait that long to publish something. Now in terms of people presenting new stuff. I’ve been really pleased at this meeting. There’s been a number of new stuff submitted. And I came with that same sort of sense that I usually come to these meetings with. The experiments that I talked about for a little bit of my talk last night, it was stuff that we just finished last week. And so I wanted to talk about something really new. And I believe we were generally urged to do that and T______ (??) this morning, referred to—she said, “Look I’m sorry the paper came out last week, but I’m going to talk about it.” So at least, in the meeting that’s happening right now, I think it’s been very good. People are really knowing that they’re talking to the field and they do need to present new things. So I separate in my mind the publication and the actual immediate science presentations.

And I think there’s a pace difference between—journals make a big thing of trying to publish on a very speedy time frame and that’s very attractive to scientists. And so I think people, they do feel nervous about waiting for the more leisurely production of the symposium volume. But another thing too is that the symposium volume—it is not a peer-reviewed journal, and I think if you want that credibility that you have published something in a peer-reviewed journal then I think that’s really the route that people probably choose to go because of the peer-review aspect. I think that’s totally appropriate because if it was published in the symposium volume, well it’s not a peer-reviewed thing. And so it won’t be given the same inherent weight as a regular peer-reviewed thing. So I think it’s not an inappropriate splitting. I mean, as you say, the way things have changed now, there weren’t so many outlets to get your data out there. But now, you can get your data out there and have it have that sort of imprimatur of being peer-reviewed as well. But for the immediate—for the meeting, I mean, that’s really the important part, I think, in many ways. Although the volume is great because I think if people can reflect a little more in the volume, which they don’t have a chance to do in journals, it’s filling another important need because in a journal you’re space-limited most of the time. You’re not going to try to kind of integrate your thoughts a little bit more into a slightly more reflective synthetic view of things. But I separate the two in my mind cause I think that’s probably what happens.

Elizabeth Blackburn is a leader in the study of telomere function and biology. She earned her B.Sc. (1970) and M.Sc. (1972) degrees from the University of Melbourne in Australia, and her Ph.D. (1975) from the University of Cambridge in England. She did her postdoctoral work in molecular and cellular biology at Yale from 1975 to 1977. Blackburn is currently a professor in the Department of Biochemistry and Biophysics, and a faculty member in the Program in Biological Sciences and Biomedical Sciences at UCSF as well as a Non-Resident Fellow of the Salk Institute.

Blackburn discovered the ribonucleprotein enzyme, telomerase, and currently researches the effect that the manipulation of telomerase activity has on cells. Her laboratory work intends to elucidate the biology of telomerase and telomere.

She attended her first meeting at CSHL in the late 1970’s and has organized Telomeres and Telomerase meetings at the Lab. Blackburn was a mentor to former Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory scientist, Dr. Carol W. Greider.

The Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine 2009 was awarded jointly to Elizabeth H. Blackburn, Carol W. Greider and Jack W. Szostak "for the discovery of how chromosomes are protected by telomeres and the enzyme telomerase".

Copyright © The Nobel Foundation, 2009

Blackburn is an elected Fellow to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences (1991), the Royal Society of London (1992), and the American Academy of Microbiology (1993). She is a foreign associate of the National Academy of Sciences (1993) and Past-President of the American Society for Cell Biology (1998).