Science is often portrayed as a fixed set of rules, impersonal, and devoid of emotions. It is not, as can be seen from the discovery of fullerenes, or more specifically buckminsterfullerene, the molecule that became known as the buckyball and on which I must have written a hundred articles over the years.
I was working as Senior Assistant Editor on Chem Comm when the paper from Roger Taylor, Harry Kroto and their colleagues Jonathan Hare and Ala Abdul-Sada arrived in our offices…exciting times.
We did our best to get it published as quickly as possible. This was pre-web, everything still on actual paper, and referees searched on an internal RSC database called JES, although we did have email, thanks to JANET.
Unfortunately, if I remember rightly, Krätschmer’s Nature paper on C60 beat us into print by a week or so despite our best efforts, all without breaking any of the strict editorial rules on refereeing etc.
I assume journals prioritise papers these days and let them jump the queue for the sake of prestige, we didn’t, and I always felt we were pipped to the post by editorial policies rather than science at the time. Still it’s nice to have been a small, perhaps insignificant catalyst, in a much bigger reaction…