We spoke to Catherine Talbot about her new role on Biology Letters as Preprint Editor and what she hopes to see from your submissions.
Tell us about yourself and your research
I recently joined the faculty at Florida Tech as an Assistant Professor in the School of Psychology, focusing on Animal Behavior and Cognition. Broadly, my overarching research goal is to study the ultimate (evolutionary) and proximate (physiological, behavioral, biological, and developmental) mechanisms underlying sociality. I approach these topics from a comparative, evolutionary, and translational perspective and have investigated such behavior in several primate species. Given the importance of faces in conveying social information and the impairment of social processing associated with many developmental and brain disorders, like autism spectrum disorder (ASD), face processing and its underlying mechanisms are one of the main foci of my research program. To this end, I helped develop and validate a naturally occurring monkey model of the core social deficits relevant to ASD, specifically targeting the underlying mechanisms of social functioning. Currently, my collaborators at UC Davis, Stanford and I are examining the relationship between potential biomarkers (e.g., oxytocin, vasopressin) of sociality and performance on a series of social-cognitive tests directly relevant to ASD. By combining biomarker correlates (e.g., vasopressin, cortisol, etc.) and behavioral data, we can significantly expand our understanding of how behaviors are developed and maintained. Additionally, in collaboration with Brevard Zoo, I am beginning to explore the role of neurohormones in complex social behaviors (e.g., social decision-making and cooperation) in non-human primates and whether variations in responses can be explained by species' and individuals' social and ecological environment.
What made you become Preprint Editor of Biology Letters?
I heard from a colleague that Biology Letters was seeking someone to fill a brand-new position for the journal, that of a Preprint Editor. The role of a Preprint Editor is to solicit submissions to Biology Letters from preprint servers, yet the process by which this could be conducted was flexible. I found this opportunity incredibly exciting as it combined my interest in reviewing and editing with being a part of an online repository forum that is gaining momentum in the scientific community and increasing the accessibility of science. As scientists, we know the publication process can be frustratingly slow at times. Thus, publishing research on preprint servers has become increasingly popular not only to get one’s findings out into the scientific world faster, but also to garner feedback that can ultimately help scientists promote their research and refine their articles and/or future research. This collaborative and open access intellectual environment is one of the reasons that I find being part of the preprint process so exciting.
What kind of topics are you hoping to see submitted as preprints?
Two goals of the preprint solicitation endeavor are to 1) increase the number of solicitations and 2) increase the disciplinary breadth of Biology Letters. Therefore, we are first hoping to see more articles covering animal behavior and cognition, ecology, evolutionary biology, neuroscience, paleontology, plant biology, and zoology submitted to Biology Letters from preprint servers. As we grow the preprint editorial team, we hope to promote awareness of Biology Letters across the biological sciences and expand the breadth of topics beyond the biology, evolution, and ecology of whole organisms that make up the bulk of submissions to Biology Letters.
Why should authors submit their preprint to Biology Letters?
Biology Letters publishes short, innovative articles from across the biological sciences that will benefit from rapid publication. Some advantages of publishing in Biology Letters include the broad scope and readership of the journal, the rapid turnaround time of 4 weeks to first decision, as well as dedicated media promotion. We also have a great in-house team, so if you have any queries about your submission do let them know and they will provide a rapid response.
Do you have any tips for potential preprint authors?
Considering the criteria of acceptance to the type of journal authors are aiming for greatly facilitates the solicitation and submission process. Articles that represent a scientific advancement in the field are more likely to be solicited (pilot studies are not usually considered) by Biology Letters.