What happens in some of the other journals is, unfortunately, that the editors sometimes have very poor judgment in which reviewers’ comments are substantial and which are not and should be ignored. De facto, you are often forced to do many things that are of very little value to making your paper any better. This very principle of having this dialog, of coming up with a short consolidated opinion by smart practicing scientists, is the important distinction between eLife and the others. And then, eLife free to the world! Everyone can read it, which is what all publishing should about…
The Discussion is one of the most difficult sections to write for students. How do you structure your Discussion?
Well, what I often see in a first draft of a discussion is basically a summary of the results. That’s quite useless. You’ve just read the results, and the results are summarized in the abstract. Forcing the reader go through it for third time is not a useful. But in the results section you are forced by the linearity of your story line. You go from figure to figure, building your arguments step by step by step. In the discussion, that linearity no longer constrains you. You are free to integrate the individual pieces of your results and discuss them in a larger context.
For example, we found a small molecule that affects cognitive behavior in rodents, so in the discussion we can mention a few diseases for which this molecule might have promising therapeutic value in humans. Or, you have a biological process such as protein folding (one of our favored topics) that one yeast species regulates completely different from another yeast species. In the discussion, you can then focus on the amazing diversity in solutions that evolution explores (I pointed to this paper in Walter’s Tips as a good read). Discussions are the place where you can make these arguments, you can speculate, you can extend, you can make it interesting to a broader readership. You can pull in other people’s results, integrate them with yours, show where you’ve advanced things, show where others have different opinions. Discuss that.
Importantly, you do not necessarily have to resolve such differences. You can say that your interpretation is contrary to what xyz have proposed, and more work will need to be done to figure out how to figure this out.