Filter fast

Sorting M&Ms as a analogy for filtering adherence to rules.

The article 'Brown M&Ms and publishing in academic journals' by Nathan A. Stephenson (Source ↓) is an analogy between a rock bands contract clause and journal publishing formats. Analogies can be more or less excellent. I find this one pretty cool.

The story of the M&M clause in a van Halen contract

Things are not always what they seem to be.

As the story goes, a famous rock band used to insist their dressing room include a bowl of M&Ms with all of the brown M&Ms removed.

It could be read, and was by some, as an eccentric perk by Van Halen enW, but there was something more interesting to it. In fact, it was a simple way for the band to check if the organizer had read the contract or not.

If the band or their representatives arrived to find a bowl of M&Ms sans brown ones, it was a clear indication that venue management had indeed read the contract. This gave the performers and their management team reasonable assurance that other, much more important provisions [...] were being honored.

The analogy with submitting articles for academic journals

Stephenson says that ...

In academic publishing we see the same mechanism at work in the form of specific manuscript format requirements.

All scientific journals have submitting guidelines. If you don't follow them, you risk being disqualified even before someone has evaluated the scientific value of your article. As the acceptance rate at top-tier journals is low, authors often have to spend (unrewarding) time reformatting their material.

The original article has 15 comments as of today.

Comment by Johan Schlasberg.

Filter fast and Fail fast.   "Fail fast" is a Facebook mantra meant to encourage experiments and new ideas, but you shouldn't get married to them. There is a time to let go and move on. The 'Fail fast' meme is also a sort of filter.

One of these days, we may see an AI-based service that rearranges your article drafts in accordance with any chosen journal submitting format requirements. If your article passes that first level, you may have a conversation with a senior-level editor.


Summary by:   Johan Schlasberg

Published: July 2021   Updated: July 6, 2021

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