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Talk:Chronobiology - Scholarpedia


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    Reviewer A

    These comments apply to the initial version of the article, which was online on October 11, 2010.

    I assume that the Instructions to Authors are important, and I will follow them in my review. If the Instructions are not important, then most of what follows is irrelevant, and one may go directly to the last two paragraphs of this review.

    The Instructions state that "articles in Scholarpedia must be authoritative, clearly written, up-to-date, and short." Having Franz Halberg write the article on chronobiology is almost instant assurance that the article will be authoritative. "Clearly written, up-to-date, and short" are another matter, however.

    Articles in Scholarpedia are supposed to be clearly written "in a way accessible to advanced undergraduate students in the article's area". In my opinion, the current text of the first paragraph barely meets the requirement, whereas the second paragraph (which describes Figures 1) is too dense for undergraduate students.

    I have no reservations whatsoever about the article being up-to-date.

    Regarding length, 2,000 words are recommended. The body of the article has 1,400 words -- and is, therefore, within the word limit. However, there are 13 figures, whose captions contain 1,800 words, and 52 items in suggested readings, with 1,400 words. Thus, the total is 4,600 words (more than double the recommended length).

    The lists of suggested readings should be shortened and moved to the end of the article (because the Instructions tell the authors: "At the end of the article, include 'Suggested Reading' list pointing to recent or especially relevant books."). The listing labeled "Origins" is good and to the point, and so is the listing labeled "Methods". The listing of books (which is not currently labeled with the same font type) should be shortened to a handful of essential books that summarize knowledge in the field.

    The figures provide too much detail for an encyclopedic article. As indicated in the Instructions, "an encyclopedic article explains only the terms used in the article that are pertinent to the topic, and links to articles where other terms are defined." Figures should be used to illustrate concepts described in the article, not as a means to present material that could not be included in the main text. In addition to violating Scholarpedia's principles, the excessive figures cause the article to be difficult to read -- because the reader must fish through the figures and captions to find the main text of the article.

    Regarding the contents of the article itself, I have only two comments:

    1) The very first sentence states that "Chronobiology is a computer-aided science objectively quantifying ... " Yet, although computers have been extremely helpful to chronobiology (as well as to many other scientific disciplines), it seems to me that the use of computers is not a sine qua non condition for the existence of chronobiology, and Professor Halberg would certainly agree that chronobiology existed before digital computers were developed. Thus, the expression "computer-assisted" should not be part of the definition of chronobiology. Notably, chronobiology will not cease to exist if computers are replaced by a new type of machine.

    2) The next sentence indicates that, in this article, chronobiology is "defined by the criteria of the authors who do not claim to be representative of others' views." This is a clear disclaimer, but the Instructions to Authors stipulate that articles "should be neutral, mentioning any and all widely accepted alternate points." Thus, disclaiming impartiality is not an option. If Halberg's views differ from those of others in a significant manner, then he should at least briefly describe what the difference is. I understand that Halberg coined the term chronobiology, but, if many people disagree with him about scientific matters, then the disagreement should be disclosed -- even if a full defense of the other view is not required by Scholarpedia's policy. On the other hand, if the disagreement is minor, then the disclaimer is not justified.

    Reviewer B

    I approved this article, which is an excellent summary of the author's contributions to this field. I tried to make an editorial suggestion in the revision section but did not have enough room. My suggestion was that since many of the acronyms used (MESOR, CHAT, VVA, VVD etc.) may not be familiar to many readers, it might be useful to include them in a separate box with an explanation for easy reference, even though they are defined with their initial use in the text.

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