Posted by: Jeremy Fox | March 14, 2012

From the archives: What’s your best paper?

A while back I did a post talking about what I think is my best paper, and inviting readers to share their stories of their best papers. I thought it would attract a bazillion comments, but the only response was from an old friend of mine. But since so many of you were keen to share your stories of eating your study organisms and doing crazy things in the name of science, I figured I’d give you another chance to toot your own horns.

So tell us: what’s your best paper (or your favorite paper, or the paper you’re proudest of)? Why?

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Responses

  1. For me, that would be my first paper.
    Why?
    Because it’s also the last one (so far, hopefully).
    It’s that simple for me and I have compassion for all of you who don’t know which paper to choose from the tens that you’ve published 🙂
    Good luck spending a lot of time with your choice, while I use this time to try to create a choice for me.

  2. I also do not understand why people would not want to talk about this, if for no other reason than to hash out what “best” means in their minds. That would be a real contribution to understanding how folks view things.

    The one that I am most proud of is a comment to a GRL paper in 2009 challenging the conclusions of a paper regarding the estimated role of fire reduction on carbon accumulation in California forests. I had a very strong case from numerous different angles, yet GRL tried their best to keep from publishing it. I won’t go into it–their behavior was highly disconcerting and questionable–except to say that I would have none of it and seriously forced the issue until they published it. Only a few months later, GRL stopped publishing comments altogether. I now have a pretty low opinion of that journal.

    However the one I am really the most proud of is not yet published (not even submitted!), nor is it truly an ecological paper per se! (although it has definite and direct ecological implications). This is outrageous of course but I’m confident that it will be published and it has large potential implications. It presents a new method for extracting the environmental signal from tree rings for paleoclimatic estimation, and evaluation of it against existing such methods. It was enormously difficult for several reasons. I learned many valuable lessons from doing it, but I’ll never do it again.

    • Interesting that the paper you are proudest of involves having to fight hard to prove someone wrong. I can appreciate that. As I commented on another post, sometimes the seven most beautiful words in the English language are “I was right and you were wrong.” 😉

      And fair enough that the paper you’re really most proud of is yet to even be submitted. Although I’m tempted to respond by declaring my best paper to be the as-yet-unwritten one that comprehensively solves all open problems in ecology and causes all ecologists to retire or switch fields. 😉

      • I hesitated for sure. But it is without question the work I’m most proud of, published or not, so I went ahead.


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