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Nathan S. Blow, Ph.D.
Editor-in-Chief, BioTechniques
BioTechniques, Vol. 51, No. 6, December 2011, p. 363
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The new year brings a time for reflection and change. Whether it is people, organizations, or even journals, peering out with fresh eyes and making thoughtful changes seems to be as commonplace during this season as long lines at the toy store. It is in this vein of making meaningful changes that I have the great pleasure to announce a new initiative for BioTechniques – beginning in May 2012, we will be launching another option for publishing methods articles, a companion online-only publication track that will complement our traditional print edition.

We are calling our new effort BioTechniques Rapid Dispatches, and, as the name implies, these articles will be published rapidly online, within days of acceptance, following an accelerated peer-review process. With the pace of research and discovery efforts accelerating, we saw the need for another avenue by which our authors could publish their results – a track whereby the time it takes for a new method to reach your bench and impact your work is significantly decreased. With this in mind, BioTechniques Rapid Dispatches aims to: (i) deliver to readers a greater number and scope of methods and techniques articles that will immediately assist scientists working at the bench, and (ii) make those articles available as quickly as possible.

Obviously the time involved with printing and distributing a traditional journal is a major element in the publishing delay, but another impediment can be the review process itself. While by most accounts our current peer-review process for the print journal is fairly rapid, often requiring less than six weeks until first decision on all manuscripts, the goal of BioTechniques Rapid Dispatches is to create an even faster pipeline that will offer greater engagement between authors and editors during the review process to accelerate any necessary revisions prior to publication. The criteria for Rapid Dispatches will also be slightly different from BioTechniques print edition: questions of novelty and scope will be less a concern than scientific quality. In this sense, manuscripts will be reviewed for the soundness of the method and the data presented, and less so for potential impact within a scientific community. This means that BioTechniques Rapid Dispatches will be able to publish methods and techniques in fields traditionally outside the scope of BioTechniques core readership, in areas such as clinical methods, ecology and evolution methods, computational methods, and chemical biology/small molecule discovery methods.

Submissions to BioTechniques Rapid Dispatches will start on December 15 and the process and manuscript formats will be similar to the print track. Word counts and figure limits will be larger for Rapid Dispatches articles in comparison to articles being considered under the print track. I should note here that the two tracks, BioTechniques print and BioTechniques Rapid Dispatches, will be separate; consideration for one does not necessarily mean consideration for both. Authors should submit their manuscripts to the track where they would prefer their articles eventually appear. And finally, all BioTechniques Rapid Dispatches articles will undergo the same rigorous copyediting and production processes as BioTechniques print articles, as well as be open-access, just like BioTechniques.

We are extremely excited about the potential of our new effort, and hope you will join us by submitting or agreeing to serve as a reviewer for a Rapid Dispatches manuscript. Together, we can enhance the publishing process by accelerating access to the latest methods and techniques. An updated and expanded “Guide to Authors” specifically for BioTechniques Rapid Dispatches will be posted online at in the coming days.

All good things…

Keeping in line with our changes theme, this month will mark the first time since 2004 that WebWatch will not appear in the pages of BioTechniques. As more scientists started using the internet to educate and inform, Kevin Ahern and WebWatch were there, cataloguing new science websites of interest to readers. The service that Kevin provided over the years to our readership, and science education, is truly immeasurable. We at BioTechniques want to take this opportunity to thank Kevin, and wish him all the best in his future endeavors.

As always, we welcome your thoughts or questions by posting at our Molecular Biology Forums under “To the Editor” ( or sending an email directly to the editors ([email protected]).