Friday, February 19, 2010

Claims of priority

I was looking at this week's Phys Rev Letters, and I saw this paper being highlighted as an editor's suggestion.  Now, I don't know anything about this work, but I was struck by the title, which says explicitly that this measurement is the first of its kind.  This is repeated a few paragraphs into the paper at the end of their introduction.  I thought that claims of "first"s were very strongly discouraged by the editors, as mentioned here, let alone being included in the title, regardless of how well founded the statement.  Was this an oversight, or am I missing something?

7 comments:

Anonymous said...

editors and proofers for PRL are overworked and dead lazy. if the referees don't catch it this kind of thing is easy to sneak in

Anonymous said...

The link you gave explicitly says PRA and PRE, it doesn't include PRL. Although I remember reading something like this for PRL and PRB at some point.

Doug Natelson said...

anon1, I can understand missing one word in a manuscript, but the title surprised me.

anon2, I've gotten this exact response from PRL editors before.

JJ said...

I can also vouch that PRL copyeditors have instructed me not to make claims of priority.

fubarator said...

This just shows there's a first time for everything!

Massimo said...

Doug, my impression, corroborated by personal experience, is that claims of novelty and/or priority are routinely published in PRX. I have a personal collection of 100 papers in which words such as "new", "first", "novel" appear (yes, even in the title or abstract). The stated policy seems to have been rendered moot by the countless exceptions that have been made to it.

Anonymous said...

I think the reason why they accepted the novelty claim in the title is because the paper addresses a very fundamental question where you can actually verify whether something has been done done for the first time or not. In most other papers it is just a question of personal taste/interpretation and is therefore not allowed.