The Journal of Anthropomorphism

While browsing journal TOCs in my RSS reader earlier today, I realised that I seem to have subconsciously assigned human personalities to some of the journals I read most frequently.

For example:

  • Current Biology is an extrovert who enthusiastically dives into any ongoing topic of conversation, and talks with their hands a lot. Fun at parties;
  • Nucleic Acids Research is an older man in a tweed jacket who quietly talks with great authority about the arcane technical details of his obscure hobby over a cup of Earl Grey;
  • Genome Research is that one friend who always has the most recent smart phone and tablet;
  • Oncogene is an old friend from my grad school days. They don’t seem to have moved on much in the intervening years, and I don’t see them very often, but when I do it’s always nice to catch up and reminisce.

Is this normal, or have I developed a very specific form of synesthesia?

About Cath@VWXYNot?

"one of the sillier science bloggers [...] I thought I should give a warning to the more staid members of the community." - Bob O'Hara, December 2010
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49 Responses to The Journal of Anthropomorphism

  1. aimee w says:

    Hey Cath

    What a wonderful thought! And no, I don’t think it’s weird at all. Well, not for me, but then I anthropomorphise _everything_ (it’s a large part of why I’m not a roboticist) 😛

    Also, a link to my blog post talking about your idea, and asking what personalities people would ascribe, amongst other questions. Just in case your readers are interested 🙂

    • Cath@VWXYNot? says:

      Yeah, I bet the International Journal of Robotics Research never anthropomorphises anything.

      Actually, although I’ve never read it, I kinda picture the International Journal of Robotics Research as Sheldon Cooper…

  2. Steve Caplan says:

    I just hope you’re not too palsy with The Journal of Irreproducible Results

  3. Bob O'H says:

    The Journal of Negative Results is the one sat in a corner quietly crying to itself.

  4. C/N/S are like that group of hipsters who are are always saying “Oh, you just heard of that? We though that was cool a few months ago, but now we’re over it.”

    • Years (decades?) ago someone did a famous spoof of the title and contents page of Cell along these lines. It was called Cool. Can’t find a version online anywhere.

      BTW, within physiology/pharmacology, the subgroup who are most recognised for projecting a ‘hipster in-crowd’ vibe/ethos are most definitely the neuroscience people, with the key journal of the tendency being Neuron.

  5. Casey says:

    Genetics drones on and on … doesn’t seem to notice when people look away uncomfortably

    PNAS is the aging hipster who’s trying too hard to be cool, can’t seem to keep up with C/N/S

    EMBO J is a French guy smoking a cigarette who swears a lot (alright, that’s just a stereotype)

    • rpg says:

      Loving PNAS and EMBO J!

      Acta Cryst D is that somewhat Asperger’s German postdoc who collars you at the lab party and explains his latest tiny extension to Molscript in exquisite and interminable detail.

  6. …and, from my own past, Digestive Diseases is that person who shows up at a party and tells anecdotes that make everyone squirm and try to leave the room. 😉

    The Lancet, on the other hand, is the Oxbridge-educated, insanely wealthy neurosurgeon who belongs to a club that you can’t get into, because he (definitely a “he”) secretly blackballs your application every.single.time.

    • Lancet Oncology is much the same, although he (again, definitely a he) will at least deign to pretend to listen to you first…

    • I think that should read ‘public school and Oxbridge educated’. I am often amazed by how frighteningly posh the Profs and high-flying research types in medicine are, much more so that the basic scientists (at least in my experience).

  7. Bob O'H says:

    I think I caught The American Naturalist dribbling into its tea.

  8. This is excellent – thanks all! I read all these comments before getting up this morning and have to say that it’s very nice to start your day lying in bed giggling to yourself!

  9. rpg says:

    J Biol Chem is that old, respected prof who should probably have retired 20 years ago, but to whom everyone defers… inexplicably, because when you actually listen to what he’s saying you realize he’s been talking complete bullshit for 20 years.

    J Mol Biol is the lab technician who’s been around forever and although never comes to lab parties always knows exactly where every reagent is kept and what it’s used for.

    • Grant says:

      I would add that JMB is generous enough to give time and space to explain things and share thoughts about the topic.

      (I would have JMB as the hands-on scientist rather than a technician, but what gives?)

  10. cromercrox says:

    The Journal of Experimental Biology is a big, excitable and beardy bear of a man in his twenties who entertains everyone with his new designs for paper planes.

  11. me says:

    J Neurosci is like that too old to still be a bruh PI creepin all the youngsters out at SfN socials…and he still has nothing good to say… :X

    thanks 4 the giggles!! 😛

  12. Steve Caplan says:

    PLoS One is this gangling teenager, lots of acne, but wanting to be friends with everyone at all cost

  13. And then there’s Diseases of the Colon and Rectum, the ancient forensic pathologist who works the night shift in the morgue, and mutters worryingly about encrustations, contusions, and less savoury things.

  14. DrugMonkey says:

    N/S are Richard Branson and Donald Trump

    • Cath@VWXYNot? says:

      Surely Trump’s more like that brand new journal that was created specifically to publish the alleged Sasquatch genome?

  15. DJMH says:

    Nature Neuroscience is young, overexcitable, and desperate to be considered as cool as his big brother Neuron. As a result, he frequently does inane things.

  16. Grant says:

    Loose thought: I wonder to what extent the personality of the journals and the senior editors match…? (Boy, is this going to get me into trouble…)

  17. nope – I don’t think it is normal at all…. Nature you minx who always shuns me –

  18. Oh, this is excellent – both Genome Research and Current Biology have tweeted this link! Both seem quite happy with their assigned personalities… wonder if we’ll be hearing from NAR, JBC, and some of the others…

  19. Nina says:

    I only anthromophosize numbers, so to me, just a journal’s impact factor is what counts. The modest Plant and Soil’s 2.7 being number 2 compared to Soil Biology and Biochemistry’s arrogant 3.5. That kind of thing. And then the snobby ecology journals who have higher IF’s just because there are more ecologists than soil scientists. Ecology Letters with 17.557! All those 5’s and 7’s, a horrid combination.

  20. Nina says:

    really? give me the numbers … Although I’m quite fond of 1 and 0, they’re such loners, after all…

    • Cath@VWXYNot? says:

      Nina, it sounds like you really do have some kind of synesthesia! That is so cool – every time I read or hear about it, I wish my brain did cool things like give numbers personalities or assign colours to different letters of the alphabet.

      • Nina says:

        Cath, I thought we had this discussion on your blog a few years ago, and I thought VERYBODY here is synesthetic?! Don’t let me down …
        However, does it count that I dislike “5” because of childhood trauma? Or is that another psychological disorder?

        • Cath@VWXYNot? says:

          Geez, am I supposed to remember everything that’s ever happened on my blog now?! I can’t even remember names!

          (Googled it. No luck. Do you remember anything about the original post?)

          • Nina says:

            gee, well, I’m getting older too, perhaps it was on good old EGF’s blog… But I associate it strongly with you for some reason.

    • p smyth says:

      I’m smelling a three, a three dog night. I too am blessed with synesthesia my favorite tasting number is Pi

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