Published papers usually need a large amount of additional data to support and strengthen the main “striking” finding and conclusions. If this research is the lab’s main focus this causes no issues. However, pieces of interesting data off the mainstream topic of the lab can often be found in the research process.
In this situation, we may recognize the potential importance of the result, but the volume of the work needed to publish it could be overwhelming and sufficient enough to stop publication of the finding. This data is then placed on the shelf and is forgotten without being seen by others.
But, what if we can publish such a small piece of data, as it is, without writing a lengthy introduction and discussion? A paper consisting of just one figure and the minimum information that is needed to replicate the study. The new article type, Micro Reports, in Molecular Brain is the one that enables such quick and easy publication, at a lower cost to that of research articles (£825/$1290/€1050).
Imagine a simple poster presented at a conference. The effort needed to prepare a Micro Report is comparable to such a poster. However, it is considered as a formal paper, which is peer-reviewed and, once published, will be shown in PubMed, and can be cited just like a conventional full length paper.
In the first Micro Report published in Molecular Brain, we showed that a mouse model of dementia with Lewy bodies has a typical expression pattern of several genes/proteins that suggests their “immature dentate gyrus (iDG)” phenotype. iDG is a phenomenon that can be seen in several different strains of genetically-engineered mice and can be reliably induced by chronic anti-depressant treatment or epileptic seizures in normal adult mice.
iDG is characterized by its unique molecular and cellular properties that are similar to those seen in normal young mice. We consider the mice with iDG as a model of some psychiatric disorders, such as schizophrenia and bipolar disorder.
The most surprising part of the paper is that iDG-like expression pattern of several genes was seen in a mouse model of dementia, as assessed just by simple quantitative PCR, suggesting that this phenotype could be shared not only by some psychiatric disorders, but also by neurodegenerative disorders.
While this finding is interesting and important, we have a long way to go to publish it, if we decide to try high impact journal(s), potentially needing to conduct a number of additional experiments in order to fully support our conclusions and their significance.
Even a small piece of data, once published, could be useful for other researchers in an unexpected way and may lead to a new solution of some biological problem or even open up a new field. If not published, such things will never happen.
A similar idea was implemented by microPublication Biology by researchers working mainly on C. elegans and, in fact, our Micro Report format is inspired by their pioneering work.
The next time you have a piece of neuroscience data, which you think striking, surprising or just potentially interesting, we encourage you to submit your results to Molecular Brain as a Micro Report.