Journal of Experimental (?) Biology

Admitted, we did not see the Journal as it describes itself: “the leading primary research journal in comparative physiology“. Thus we maybe should not have been as surprised when we got our editorial rejection this morning, citing the journal’s priority as “prioritizes experimental research that addresses fundamental mechanisms of general importance to comparative physiology and biomechanics“.
In our opinion, we have presented a fundamental mechanism as well as experimental research, but it’s synthetic not comparative. The journal historically has published quite some biomechanics, which the editor admits, but states further that this research “must provide mechanistic insights that are broadly applicable in a comparative context.”

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Natural selection

While only seven days after our submission to Nature the editor stated

We certainly have no doubt that your model will be of value to others seeking a deeper understanding of human gait; and we don’t question that the insights so obtained could be relevant in a variety of therapeutic and artificial contexts.

he also said

But as the broader implications of your findings have yet to be elucidated, we are unable to conclude that the paper offers the sort of striking advance that would be likely to excite the immediate interest of Nature’s broader audience.

and advised us to transfer the manuscript to Nature Communications. Which we did not do but instead transfered to Nature Physics first, hoping to receive feedback before Christmas. This did not happen and after 28 days the editor of Nature Physics told us

In the present case, we have no doubt that your mathematical description of the dynamics of human walking will be of inherent interest to fellow researchers working on this and related topics.

but at the same time stated

As you may know, in deciding which papers to publish we have to make an editorial judgement about the immediacy of interest to our readers and the degree and nature of the advance demonstrated.

and suggested to transfer to Nature Communications, which we ultimately did last week. We are still waiting for an editor to be assigned and meanwhile I am wondering who is this audience of Nature and Nature Physics (not to forget Science, of course)? Why are they reading these journals and what are they looking for? And how do the editors know, what this is? Very curious to me.

Sneak peak

Also Nature did decline our manuscript yesterday, though they at least made the effort to refer to the conents of our paper in their rejection e-mail and gave us the impression that they made some effort to arrive at this conclusion. The reasons given for the rejection were a lack of believe in its scientific impact as well as no confidence in the sufficent and striking advance which would excite a broader audience.

So, we still have no substantial reviewer feedback, but the next step is before us. As a sneak peak here is a yet uncommented illustration of our story

Back to Nature

Almost precisely after two weeks from the date of submission the editor of Science came back to us saying at our paper has not been selected for publication but offered to transfer it to a related journal of the science family.

However, at this point we opted to try Nature first, which required us to rewrite the abstract in a quite interesting style, change from American to British spelling and rewrite our letter to the editor. We have submitted yestereday and been assigned to an undisclosed editor today. Again, fingers crossed!


The old, slightly embarassing feeling that the manuscript tracker is playing with you. This Sunday the status changed back to “to advisor” and this morning it is again “under evaluation”. A Science help document, quite buried on the internet, suggests that there are more status items to pass.


This process has been expected to be fast but its moving along at a stunning pace. Sometime last night we have been assigned our requested editor, the editor had set the status to “to advisor” which I assume involved the reviewing editors. The status has now changed to “under evaluation” which should have triggered the in-depth review by two outside reviewers. Keep your fingers crossed and stay tuned!

Talking about Science

Not about science in general but about Science Magazine, one of the high-impact, general purpose scientific journals. My notion of science is “When you do bad science you are not getting into Science. If you are doing great science, you are probably still not getting into Science.

However, I have submitted a research article manuscript to Science magazine yesterday and I would like to take you on the journey with me.

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Running speed

Wired magazin published an interesting article covering a recent paper of my dear co-author Dr. Michael Guenther which is worth reading

which bases on his recent paper

  1. Günther M, Rockenfeller R, Weihmann T, Haeufle DFB, Götz T, Schmitt S. Rules of nature’s Formula Run: Muscle mechanics during late stance is the key to explaining maximum running speed. Journal of Theoretical Biology. Published online August 2021:110714. doi:10.1016/j.jtbi.2021.110714

And there is also a very nice video about running top speed from WIRED’s “Almost Impossible” series

Habilitation evaluation

On December 17th I will give a presentation about my current research as part of the mid-term evaluation for my postdoctoral lecture qualification (Habilitation). It will be live from 1:30pm.