In 2014, shortly after beginning as Editor-in-Chief of the ICES Journal of Marine Science, Howard Browman, began inviting senior members of the marine science community to write essay-style articles under the “Food for Thought" banner that summarize their careers and offer insights and lessons learned. The intent of the initiative was to encourage these scientists to share their perceptions and professional experiences in a readable and pedagogical manner and to discuss what surprised them about which of their works/ideas/proposals became popular and were adopted by the marine science community and which were not. The scientists would also provide an insight into how their field had changed over the years and what lessons were learned that they could share with others, particularly early career scientists.
A total of 23 articles have been published since the launch of this initiative. There is quite a range in topics and writing style employed by each of the authors. Some of the titles clearly identify the field or career path of the writer. Some articles include personal struggles, challenges, or ethical concerns, while others offer extensive histories of particular fields of expertise. Invitees were always encouraged to tell how and why they pursued their respective careers. Four of the authors have been women scientists. Three manuscripts are currently in the review/revision process. As of this writing, an additional 48 senior scientists (including 18 women) have accepted invitations to contribute an essay.
Clearly, writing these unusually personal articles has become accepted within the marine science community as evidenced by the number already published and an even larger number in the pipeline. Those who have contributed essays, and those who have committed to contributing, are not all from within the ICES community, which is a tribute to the widespread popularity of the Journal topically and geographically. As envisaged, these stories are providing interesting accounts of the careers of eminent marine scientists in ways not typically conveyed in regular journal articles.
As one of the senior members of the editorial staff whose has been privileged to review all of the published articles in their original manuscript form, I have observed the wide range in writing styles and variability in careers and associated experiences of the authors. Some of the articles have resonated with readers more than others, based on the viewing statistics. , although, with some exceptions, the number of views is somewhat related to the time from publication. For example, by far the most viewed of the 23 articles published to date is by Steven Campana who identified 12 easily adopted scientific behaviour patterns that he felt would have had a hugely positive effect on his career if he had only known about them early on. Clearly, the advice he offers in that essay has resonated with readers, hopefully more so with early career scientists who may find that Campana's advice might be beneficial to their professional development.