A good day for papers

8 04 2018

At long last the magnificent Emma and I resubmitted our Zoo Biology MS. We took an insane 11 months to revise it; the comments came in just before we each took turns to be really busy, we had to totally rejig the explanation of why control for phylogeny, and we also having had a really unpleasant referee (one who called me a liar: that’s a first) which demoralised the hell out of us. But we think it’s pretty good now.

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And Mike and I had a paper accepted by Physiology & Behaviour! This is my first ever publication in that journal, and it has a decent impact factor so I’m pleased.

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We hate your paper, but we’ll probably accept it

11 01 2018

Two papers from the lab came back from journals in the last month, both with fairly harsh editors’ letters.  “Thus, I must reject your manuscript”, intoned the one from Animal Behaviour, while “The reviewers raised some major concerns” tutted the one from Physiology and Behaviour

Yet both allowed re-submission, and in both cases the referees’ comments were easy to address (sensible, helpful, and mainly stylistic).  This type of presentation of ‘minor revisions’ as ‘major revisions’ or even rejection seems increasingly common. And it’s disheartening for possibly judgement-biased students, who dwell on the critical wording of the letter rather than the often-quite-easy tasks set within it (Andrea was convinced this was one for our anti-CVs!).  But really, in the end it’ll be good news for us I think.

First paper of the year!

10 01 2018


An experiment I was involved in as one of Michelle Hunniford’s committee members is now in press! The aim was to see if hens’ preferences for different nesting surfaces could be outweighed by whether or not the area was enclosed (a known preference), in a kind of titration. But the hens did not understand what we were trying to do. For a start they didn’t have stable surface preferences: their favourite surface varied according to whether nests were open or closed – very strange. Then when formerly unenclosed laying areas became enclosed or vice versa, they just followed the enclosure: it over-rode everything in a fairly simple way.

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The whole publication process happened in record-quick time too.

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Play paper published with no-one getting hurt

22 12 2017

The curse seems to be over, and the paper I think came out well in the end.

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Boredom-like states in mink – again!

28 10 2017

Me and Becky’s boredom replicate study, achieved (a while ago now) thanks to Dana and some of her data from her last experiment here. is now out, along with a nice freebie link good ’til Dec. 15th:

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And I should mention this great review paper on boredom too, published by Charlotte Burn a couple of months ago:

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The Curse of the Play Paper: fading … but not yet over

25 10 2017

Today, Jamie at last submitted what we hope are final revisions to our ‘play as a welfare indicator’ paper!

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This was definitely a case where the referees’ comments, which chimed with our own misgivings about our original submission, helped us make the paper way better. So, we’re cautiously optimistic.

But it wasn’t laziness had us first submitting something we weren’t wild about: this MS has been more dogged by disaster than any paper I’ve ever worked on, and with a “special edition” deadline to meet (Mollie Bloomsmith and Terry Maple were putting together a volume on ‘optimal welfare’), we couldn’t just wait ’til all was well.  First I had terrible tendinitis, and was awash with inflammatory molecules that made me low and slow-witted; then Julia hurt her wrist, while Jamie broke his finger; and then Julia also cut a finger badly with a kitchen knife (see below, with added hurty faces).

Then when it came to revising the MS once we’d heard back from the journal, poor Julia now had serious concussion from a bicycle accident (you can tell she’s kind of the weakest link here, though it’s her sections on human children that most make this paper original).

Finally, now pretty much the last authors to get their acts together, we were ready to submit!  But this time it was the Elsevier site that was broken and out-of-action. After two days of technical trouble, it grudgingly let Jamie submit, but still Mollie can’t actually see the MS: for some reason it’s now invisible.  Before she does eventually get her hands on it, I really think I should warn her to be careful…

New papers submitted

16 10 2017

In last week’s flurry of activity, Andrea submitted a paper to Animal Behaviour. We aimed higher than normal with this MS as it’s on three inter-connected studies that nicely show that different stereotypic behaviours have different triggers and are best treated in different ways, even within the same individual. Fingers crossed they send it out to review!

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And Emma (that’s ‘Little Emma’) and Aimee sent a paper off to Lab Animal, validating live observation as a data collection for mice. These results were a major relief as the video-watching this required, even though of just 8 cages, nearly killed them.

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