Neuroscientist calls for 'single figure publication'

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A prominent neuroscientist has co-authored a paper urging scientists to adopt a new style of reporting that enables them to publish research faster and more succinctly.

In an editorial published in F1000Research, William Mobley, chair of the Department of Neurosciences at the University of California, San Diego, explains the need for single figure publication (SFP).

The SFP comprises a figure, the legend, a material and methods section, and an optional results-discussion section. This format significantly reduces both the length of research papers (to less than 1000 words) and the amount of time needed to go from research to publication.

Mobley believes the SFP will bridge the gap between traditional, long scientific journal articles and nanopublications – very small units of published, machine-readable information that contains validated, core scientific statements with associated context. He Mobley believes that nanopublications will be critical in enabling scientific data to be aggregated and integrated on a larger scale.

To demonstrate how single figure publication works, Mobley and two of his colleagues have also published an article on F1000Research, written in the SFP style. The article, which is awaiting peer review, describes a failed attempt to replicate a high profile-paper published last year in Nature:

Professor Mobley said: 'There is a clear public interest in shorter and better structured reporting through single figure publication. While the traditional format of journal articles will continue to be used to tell important "stories" of scientific journeys, more nimble, modular units of communication are needed, starting with SFP.

'I believe that SFP will, in turn, become the forerunner of nanopublications, which will allow scientists to go even further in utilising computers to aggregate and integrate data and knowledge within or across disciplines.'