bioengineer’s discourse community
Name of the Student
18th November 2015
Bioengineer’s Discourse Community: Editorial Board of “Nature” journal
A discourse community is defined as a group of individuals who share common interests, goals and procedural approach to meet specific mission. Hence, these people have a common language of interacting between themselves. Such language does not merely mean communication, but the feelings, thoughts, emotions and deliverables with respect to a particular needful is common. These communities are formed to help or aid in a social cause or scientific cause, which may help in development of community or prevent harm to a community or improve the quality of life of individuals living in a community. To initiate such philosophies, these individuals have a common course of action which is replicated at all levels, irrespective the entity of an individual (Little & Sayers 73-86).
The individuals of a discourse community are guided by the Fitness Discourse Community map. These individuals are united through common goals. Common goals may include strength, flexibility and vitality for a specific function. They may also be united through a set of values that may include ensuring safety for others, creating accountability for the job done by the group or other groups, acts to motivate a set of individuals. These groups may also have a specialized system of vocabulary and articulation. They may also belong to a specific genre. Irrespective of their origin, such mapping functions help them to become oriented with each other, to execute one common goal (Little & Sayers 73-86). The discourse group that will be discussed in this essay would be the scientists and editorial board members of the “Nature” group of Journals.
The journal is a very popular interdisciplinary journal that publishes various articles based on physical and biological sciences. The journal was ranked as the “World’s most Cited Journal” during 2010. The journal publishes original and authentic research works, through an in-depth analysis of findings. Such findings carry the credibility and viability based on their reproducibility and consistency. The journal boasts of 3 million unique readers per month. The primary target of the journal includes research fraternity and scientists all across the world. However, it also publishes articles that arouse the interest and quest for science in common people. This article would review the factors helped in building of this discourse community of scientists and editors, irrespective of differences in ethnicity, culture, race or origin.
Nature was created in 1869 by Norman Lockyer, who was an editor. The philosophy of launching Nature was based on the words of William Wordsworth “To the solid ground of nature, trusts the mind that builds for aye” (“A Volant tribe of birds” 20 June). Hence, the first owner of Nature, Alexander Macmillan clearly believed that the readers must be provided with an accessible forum for getting informed regarding the advances in scientific knowledge. The journal was in fact raised for polemic purpose. The earlier editions of Nature were written by a group of scientists who called them the “X Club.” This was the first initiation of the concept of discourse community with respect to the Nature journal. This group became unified because they had liberal, progressive and controversial scientific beliefs that were common amongst themselves. However, such traits also made them a class apart from their close peer groups, with respect to the period.
The unified philosophy of those scientists is the basis of modern day’s mission statement of Mission, which states “ It is intended, FIRST, to place before the general public the grand results of Scientific Work and Scientific Discovery; and to urge the claims of Science to a more general recognition in Education and Daily Life; and SECONDLY, to aid Scientific men themselves, by giving early information on all advances made in any branch of Natural knowledge throughout the world, and by affording them an opportunity of discussing the various Scientific questions that arise from time to time” (“Nature’s Mission Statement” 11 September).
Hence, the core philosophy and procedure of working was amply stated. It aims to present science and its discoveries to aid in education and daily life in the form of implementations. Secondly, it voices dissemination of advanced information across scientists for generating a global consensus on an issue or moving ahead with an issue of interest. This would not only help scientists all across the world to revalidate their independent research protocols but would also provide stimulating thoughts to proceed ahead with the information published in the Journal. Therefore, the mission statement of Nature was revised in 2000 to “First, to serve the scientists through prompt publication of significant advances in any branch of science, and to provide a forum for the reporting and discussions of news and issues concerning science. Second, to ensure that the results of science are rapidly disseminated, to the public throughout the world, in a fashion, that conveys their significance for knowledge, culture and daily life” (“Nature’s Mission Statement” 17 November).
The goal of this community of editors is to provide scientists all across the world with authentic research articles; that would spur their thoughts for developing strategies or methods or substances that would be beneficial for the human race. The articles that are selected for publication by the editors are highly selective, have high impact in the society. These groups of editors are full-time professional editorial staff and no external board of editors or affiliations are encouraged in Nature. This makes the community of editors at Nature pretty homogenous, which helps them to pursue the core philosophy of approving articles, based on the mission statement of Nature.
Since the domain of Nature is pretty large and interdisciplinary, high level of expertise and updated knowledge on various fields in terms of verticals and horizontals are required. This is required to reach a consensus based on the core philosophy of the journal. At times, this makes the critical review of an article very rigorous and validation process beyond one’s level of expertise is a constraint. This is even more pertinent as the Journal does not provide opportunity for editors to seek peer level help from scientists or editors who are not employed with Nature. However, the individual editors are linked to each other by stringent procedural functioning.
The manuscript editors’ select primary research manuscripts, commission review articles, attend scientific meetings to keep themselves updated; they provide the absolute scientific judgment on the validity and reliability of a research and most importantly consult with each other during the decision-making process. On the other hand, other editors write and edit non-research articles, stringently communicate with manuscript editors after acceptance of an article, and exhibit journalistic skills rather than scientific skills. Hence, the delegation and deployment of job functions are made in such a way so that the core philosophy of the Journal is always adhered to. The group of editors is bound by location, time and interests. First of all, these editors select papers that are conceptually novel, they should be technically convincing, important in its respective field and should be naive, should appeal to a broad range of readers and must be elegant in writing style.
The community is formed by a group of editors under a Principal Editor. The Principal Editor is supplemented by two editors in the field of Biological Sciences and the field of Physical Sciences respectively. Under the leadership of the biology editor there are 14 Associate and Senior Editors. On the other hand, under the leadership of Editor in Physical Sciences there are 8 Associate and Senior Editors. The 14 Associate and Senior Editors are located at London San Francisco, Washington DC, New York and Boston. In the field of Physical Sciences, the 8 Associate and Senior Editors are located at London and Washington. The peer levels of editors are formed based on their scientific expertise, and basic educational qualifications.
There is a unique guideline for communicating within them and the referees selected for a paper. The referees are chosen based on technical expertise, broad field of knowledge, highly efficient based on their nature of contributions, fair-minded and unbiased history. The referees are anonymous to prevent bland and timid reviews, correct for power imbalance, reduces the opportunities for favor trading, and a broader philosophy to encourage friendship between scientists. The community communicates with referees, based on the philosophy of unbiased approach. They are kept anonymous to authors and the data or disclosures regarding the acceptance or rejection of a particular field of research is maintained through data confidentiality.
To become a member of the Editor’s committee at Nature, certain attributes are essential for individuals. They should be able to devote their professional full time for the Journal. They should not execute any comment that may bias the field off work. They must be highly efficient in maintaining the confidentiality of data before they are presented to anonymous referees. The members of this community take extreme care, so as to discourage financial implications in manipulating the decisions of either themselves or the referees.
Further, the disclosure community understands the basic assumptions of their course of actions and ways of communicating the goal of “Nature” through published statements. Such statements are the guiding principles for both the referees and the authors. They clearly state to their authors that peer review will help them for making their paper better, all the major issues will be addressed with substantial and evidenced based revisions, they also communicate the time delay due to the business of referees and editors. The authors are also made clear that if their piece of work is not selected for publication in Nature; such work/s may be accepted by other Journals depending on their field of interest. The transparent articulation, regarding acceptance and non-acceptance of a particular piece of work, improves the credibility of the Editors and the Referees associated with the journal.
From the above discussion and analysis on the group of Editors at Nature, it becomes apparent that these individuals are united by one common goal and a set of values. Apart from that they are united by transparency of communication and belong to the genre of qualified scientists. Hence, the group of editors truly forms a “Discourse Community”, in their perseverance to promote authentic science.
Little, M. & Sayers, E. “Discourse Communities And The Discourse Of Experience.” Health
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Nature’s mission statement. nature.com. Retrieved 17 November 2015
“A Volant Tribe of Bards on earth are found” Bartleby.com. Retrieved 20 June 2013