Publishing delays

Back to the Kremlinology...if the Chinese discovered qinghaosu in 1972, why didn't they publish anything until 1977?

The usual explanation is that this was the time of Chairman Mao's reign of terror, so there was no place to publish because the scientific journals had been closed down. In historical research, of course, just because things happen at the same time doesn't make one the cause of the other.

Go in a little closer and it gets more interesting. While the reason not to publish must surely have been the reign of terror, the reason they eventually did publish seems to have been good old academic rivalry. It's nice to know that survived in spite of everything.

According to Zhang Jianfang's account, the Chinese saw the suggestive footnote in Milutin Stefanovic's 1975 paper, and rushed to the presses.

If we fast forward a bit, the other question that bugs me is the long lead times between the early papers being sent to the journals and the papers actually getting published:

1. Structure and reactions of arteannuin. Submitted: 3 April 1978. Published May 1979.
2. Crystal structure and absolute configuration of qinghaosu. Submitted: 9 May 1978. Published: March 1980

Perhaps there was a long backlog of papers because the journals had been closed down for a bit? The editor might therefore have worked through, methodically publishing submissions in chronological order, according to when they had been received.

Scrupulously fair no doubt, but surely any journal editor worth his or her salt would have realized the qinghaosu papers were dynamite, and rushed them to the presses?

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