Monday, December 29, 2008

N - BMJ: 10 years of free access

After 10 years of providing free access to its peer reviewed research online, the BMJ is officially an open access journal. In 1998 it started to provide free access to the full text of research articles; to deposit the full text in PubMed Central; and to allow authors to retain copyright. The BMJ Group has also announced the introduction of BMJ Unlocked (, which allows authors who submit research to 19 specialist journals to pay a fee and make their work open access. For Archives of Diseases in Childhood it is £1700. (, 16 Oct 2008, "BMJ completes 10 years of offering open access content online")

N - International open access day

The 14 October was open access day 2008, with the goal "to broaden awareness and understanding of open access, including recent mandates and emerging policies, within the international higher education community and the general public." The Open Access Directory compiled a wiki to help organise much of the world’s material ( And Greg Laden wrote a poem for the day ( The Open Access Scholarly Publishers Association announced their formation. And the organisers published six videos, from a teacher, librarian, funder, student, physician scientist, and a patient advocate on why open access matters ( See

N - More resources with open access

The Bahrain Medical Bulletin went open access from December 2008 and is published under a copyright that allows readers to reuse the articles provided they cite them correctly. In the open access Global Library of Women's Medicine (, recently launched by the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists in London, more than 650 experts discuss the latest therapeutic options in women's medicine. And BioMed Central has unveiled new open access journals, PathoGenetics, to meet the needs of researchers investigating the mechanisms of genetic disease, and Epigenetics and Chromatin, to discuss heritable changes that involve stable modifications of chromatin, DNA, or protein conformation.

N - Outcome reporting bias exposed

Only 11 of 73 funders of randomised controlled trials contacted mentioned the importance of publication of negative as well as positive outcomes, a study in Trials has found (2008;9:66, doi:10.1186/1745-6215-9-66). The funders often mentioned trial registration, protocol adherence, trial publication, and monitoring. The report highlights the need for more detailed guidance from funders to prevent outcome reporting bias. Publication bias, where statistically significant results are more likely to be published than those that are statistically insignificant, is well recognised. However, outcome reporting bias, where only a subset of the original variables are reported according to the nature of the results, is less well documented.
(, 28 Nov 2008 "More guidance needed to check outcome reporting bias, says report")

N - Europe promises open access to research

The European Commission has launched a pilot project that will give unrestricted online access to research results funded by the European Union, primarily research published in peer reviewed journals, after an embargo of 6-12 months. The pilot will cover about 20% of the budget of the Seventh Research Framework Programme, €50bn between 2007 and 2013, in disciplines such as health, energy, environment, social sciences, and information and communication technologies. Grant recipients will be required to deposit final manuscripts into an online repository and to ensure open access to these articles after publication. See

Thanks to Arjan Polderman

N - Pressure to publish scoop science

Research in Cell has been criticised by five researchers from four research groups in three countries for not properly crediting their earlier findings (2008;133:1093-105, doi:10.1016/j.cell.2008.04.048). One critic, Peter Lawrence, said, "There’s a pressure on scientists to publish in these top journals to promote their work as more novel than it really is." The paper’s main author has defended the work. In an unpublished letter to Cell Lawrence said that the paper "amounts to a theft of our intellectual property. . . A paper in Cell, whatever the quality, will gain citations and eclipse our own discoveries." See Development 2004;131:4651-64. (, 25 Nov 2008, "Critics rip Cell paper")

N - Google feels credit contraction

The internet search provider Google will close its scientific data service, Google Research Datasets, in January, before the product’s official launch. The experimental service was to offer scientists a way to store the terabytes of open source data that are generated in life sciences, pharmaceuticals, and other fields. A few weeks ago, the company’s chief executive, Eric Schmidt, told the Wall Street Journal that Google would cut back on experimental projects. Research Datasets is its third project to be abandoned in the latter months of 2008, after the SearchMash search results test and the Lively virtual reality program.
(, 19 Dec 2008, "Failure to launch: Google Research Datasets")

N - Professor charged with ghostwriting

A US inquiry has charged an Australian professor for being author of an article in the American Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology that was sympathetic to a treatment after it was linked to cancer. The inquiry is investigating whether drug companies pay ghostwriters to favour their products. The professor stands by the article, and the drug company, Wyeth, denies paying authors and says that they have "substantive editorial control." Elsevier will investigate the allegations. In December Senator Chuck Grassley alleged that Wyeth commissioned articles to promote its hormone replacement therapy and had them ghostwritten by a medical communications company. (, 29 Dec 2008, "Australian professor charged in US enquiry on ghostwriting for medical journal")
Thanks to Emma Campbell

N - JISC aggregates journal contents

The tables of content of the tables of content of 11469 scholarly journal from 421 publishers can be viewed together in a service from the Joint Information Systems Committee (JISC). The service, Tictocs, is free to use and seeks to help researchers keep up to date with what is being published in the most recent issues of journals on almost any subject ( Users can view the latest contents for each journal; link to the full text; and save journals to view future tables of content. And the service makes it easy to export webfeeds to popular readers. (, 18 Dec 2008, "JISC funded TOCs service launched for scholarly journals")
Thanks to Emma Campbell

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

N - Libraries make come back

Almost 60% of respondents said that they used library technology to help navigate to scholarly content 95% of the time, in a three year study. But publishers have responded less well to changes in users' behaviour: readers are more likely than ever to visit a journal's website at the article or abstract level. The white paper How Readers Navigate to Scholarly Content compared changes in users’ behaviour between 2005 and 2008 and the impact on the design and function of publishers' websites ( A coauthor Tracy Gardner said, "Publishers need to place anything they want the user to see at the article level."
(, 8 Oct 2008, "College libraries win back search primacy")

Monday, December 22, 2008

N - Subeditors demand writer's respect

An expletive splattered leaked email shows the contempt that the restaurant reviewer Giles Coren has for subeditors at the Sunday Times newspaper. Coren's 1000 word rant was complaining about the removal of a single indefinite article: "I do not enjoy the suggestion that you have a better ear or eye for how I want my words to read than I do . . . And the way you avoid this kind of fuck up is by not changing a word of my copy without asking me, OK? It's easy. Not. A. Word. Ever." The subeditors replied, "Subs are no more infallible than writers. So, let's all try a little mutual respect, shall we?" (, 23 July 2008, “Read Giles Coren's letter to Times subs” and, 29 July 2008, “Sunday Times subeditors reply to Giles Coren”).

N - Springer buys BioMed Central

Springer Science and Business Media agreed in October to acquire the BioMed Central Group, a pioneering global open access publisher. BioMed Central was launched in May 2000 as an independent, for profit, publisher committed to providing free access to peer reviewed biological and medical research. It is the largest open access provider in the world with more than 180 peer reviewed journals. Biomed Central’s publisher, Matthew Cockerill assured editors that a board of trustees "will continue to safeguard BioMed Central's open access policy." Springer "has been notable . . . for its willingness to experiment with open access publishing," he said. (, 7 Oct 2008, “Open access publisher BioMed Central sold to Springer”)

N - Open access association launched

The Open Access Scholarly Publishers Association ( was launched in October. Its mission is to support and represent the interests of open access journals publishers globally in all scholarly disciplines through an exchange of information, setting industry standards, and advancing business and publishing models. Membership is open to signatories of the Berlin or Budapest declarations and organisations must publish at least one fully open access journal. Other parties that support open access publishing are also welcome. Founding members include BioMed Central, Copernicus, Hindawi Corporation, and the Public Library of Science. (, 14 Oct 2008, “The Open Access Scholarly Publishers Association launched”)

N - Treat Déjà Vu with caution

Déjà Vu (, a free database of “extremely similar Medline citations,” which might represent duplicate publications, is not always to be trusted. An editorial in Clinical Chemistry points out many false entries and warns that inclusion might damage the reputation and career of honest scientists. Reasons for misclassification include publisher error, follow-up studies from the same cohort, guidelines that are adopted or published by several cooperating journals, and articles republished in a different language. “A large number of authors may have to defend themselves to free their names from such unfounded allegations,” say the editorialists. (Clinical Chemistry 54;777-8:2008, doi:10.1373/clinchem.2008.104794)

N - Campaigners criticise misconduct policy

The UK Research Integrity Office (UKRIO) has issued a standard procedure for universities to deal with allegations of research misconduct. But it has been criticised, with one campaigner comparing it to a "Band-Aid on a cancer." The guidance says that universities should use at least one external investigator but only after senior staff have decided whether the complaint is serious enough. Harvey Marcovitch, chairman of the Committee on Publication Ethics, said that the committee would prefer a mandatory system, but UKRIO thinks universities should continue to have responsibility for investigating complaints about their staff. (, 18 Sep 2008, "Misconduct policy branded 'Band-Aid' for cancer")

N - The blog is dead

Don’t bother starting a blog. "Cut rate journalists and underground marketing campaigns now drown out the authentic voices of amateur wordsmiths," says Paul Boutin, writing on Jason Calacanis, who made millions from Weblogs, quit because "blogging is simply too big, too impersonal, and lacks the intimacy that drew me to it." "The time it takes to craft sharp, witty blog prose is better spent expressing yourself on Flickr, Facebook, or Twitter," says Boutin. Twitter limits the length of postings, enables uploading of multimedia, and is immediately searchable. (, 20 Oct 2008, Twitter, Flickr, Facebook Make Blogs Look So 2004)

Friday, December 19, 2008

N - SfEP chairwoman thinks strategy

Sarah Price has taken the helm as chairwoman of the Society for Editors and Proofreaders (SfEP). The society hopes that other appointments to the council will strengthen its strategic planning. "Our new professional development director will be building our portfolio of qualifications after our recent addition of the licentiateship in editorial skills with the City and Guilds. Proof of editorial competency is essential for client confidence," she said. "Everyone wants a top quality read. Our members always have this in mind. The challenge now is to take a strategic path to guide the development of more efficient editorial practices."

N - COPE redesigns website

The Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE) has a redesigned website and a new URL— It has also prepared guidelines for boards of directors of learned journals ( Journals should update any link to COPE's website in their instructions. COPE welcomes comments on the guidelines and the new website. The committee is concerned with the integrity of peer reviewed publications in science, and has more than 5200 members from all continents, mostly editors. COPE will appoint a full time director after a 10-fold increase in membership this year. The publishers Elsevier, Wiley-Blackwell, Springer, Taylor & Francis, and the BMJ Group have signed up all their journals as members.
Thanks to Liz Wager.

N - Lust in translation

The prestigious Max Planck Society has apologised after using calligraphy on the cover of a special China issue of its flagship magazine that turned out to advertise a Hong Kong strip club. The institute replaced the cover, which advertises “hot, young housewives,” of the online and English edition of Max Planck Forschung but not before the German language version had been sent. The institute said that the Chinese text “had been chosen by our editorial office . . . To our sincere regret, however, it has now emerged that the text contains deeper levels of meaning, which are not immediately accessible to a non-native speaker.” (, 11 Dec 2008, “Eminent scientific journal gets hit for sex”)

Thanks to Trish Groves

Sunday, December 14, 2008

B - The future of science: building a better collective memory

Nielsen, Michael A. The future of science: building a better collective memory APS News 2008 17(10)8

Article discussing the relative failure of science to improve the long-term memory and short-term use of the internet to enhance science communication beyond that using conventional journals. Most attempts to create comment sites where scientists can share their opinions of scientific papers have failed, while the open scientific culture is struggling to succeed; top-down efforts such as open access may be boosted by the National Institutes of Health insisting that every paper they have supported with grants must eventually be made open access, while bottom-up attempts such as the physics preprint arXiv and the particle physics SIPRES-HIV are producing a small but genuine cultural change. The problem of collaboration with initially unknown collaborators is discussed; what is needed is a collaboration market that would ensure ethical behaviour by participants. A longer version of this article presented at the New Communication Channels for Biology workshop, San Diego, 26-7 July 2008, can be found at

Posted for John Glen

B- Licence to publish better than copyright transfer

Taylor, R.I. Licence to publish better than copyright transfer APS News.2008,17(10)4

Letter advocating the policy of the author's employers, a commercial organisation, that never transfers copyright but only deals with journals prepared to accept a Licence to Publlish agreement, which allows the publisher to print the article in their own format and to distribute electronically, etc., while retaining the copyright on the content allowing future use of the text, pictures, etc.
Posted for John Glen

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Borrowing, debt, and plagiarism

This piece, in the Guardian's review section, starts with borrowing as the source of current economic woes, then moves on to the experiences of debt of authors and characters, before engaging with the history of borrowing the ideas and words of writers who have gone before us. By courteous acknowledgement the ancient Romans kept those sweet from whom they had taken ideas; they expressed their indebtedness. Ben Jonson, in the 16th century, used the word 'plagiary' for the stealing of poems, lines, and phrases from contemporaries. The idea of English being indebted to other languages for words it was appropriating emerged in the 17th century. Then, in 1710, came law, in the Copyright Act. An idea that comes across most strongly is that acknowledging sources strengthens the author's own position as being worthy and honourable. We are always in debt to the past and those who have written in it.

Friday, December 05, 2008

B - Free for all

Harnad, John. 2008 Free for all Physics World 21(12)16-17

Discusses open access journals and the danger of lowering standards of refereeing because of financial pressure. It also discusses the formation of large common-interest groups such as SCOAP (the Sponsoring Consortium for Open Access Publishing) in high-energy physics which has negotiated terms for its member organisations to pay a standard fee to open access journals for each paper published. The future for journal publishing is likely to retain both subscription and open access models.

Posted for John Glen

B - The price of free papers

Banks, Michael. 2008 The price of free papers Physics World 21(12)12-13

Discusses the present state of open access journals and the economics of their publication. The preprint server arXiv and its relation to journals is also discused. A third option is Springer's "open choice" database; the journal is subscription based but offers authors the option of making their papers open access in return for a fee of $3000.

POsted for John Glen

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

N - Christmas lunch not dinner

Most Daily Telegraph readers eat “Christmas lunch” rather than “Christmas dinner,” said Simon Heffer, the paper’s associate editor, in an angry email to staff. “This is not the Daily Star,” he said. “I have exhorted you all to read carefully what you write. I think some of you are now doing this, but not always thinking about what it is that you read.” His favourite literals of that week were “hocky mom” and “plumb compote.” One reader wondered whether the newsroom was being run by “mnokeys.” Heffer said, “While it is good to provide the customers with amusement, it should be intentional.” (

Sunday, November 30, 2008

B - Open data: the elephant in the room?

Morgan P. Open data: the elephant in the room? Journal of the European Association for Health Information and Libraries.2008
4(4): 4-6

Scientific research is based on data and the Open Access movement now incorporates the need for open access to research data, or Open Data. Research funding bodies are mandating the release and re-use of data, but small-scale research projects may lack the resources to implement Open Data management procedures. Libraries and institutional repositories, which have focused efforts on managing text resources rather than data, can assist in addressing this problem by collaborating with the research community.

B - Publishing should help research

Inchoombe I. Publishing should help research. Research Information.June/July 2008

The managing director of Nature Publishing Group (NPG) expresses his views on STM publishing. In his opioiob, there is an expectation that there will be more and more information out there and researchers want to be able to filter the information. There is an increasing demand for the alerting of new, relevant information from publishers or aggregators.Peer review is so important to quality and accuracy that it must be treated it with respect. Last year, an open-review trial had a very low response. NPG believes that open access will offer something of good value and benefit to some parts of the market but they do not see the author-pays model as appropriate for the Nature-branded journals today. Thwy have a free-to-access preprint server, Nature Precedings

Saturday, November 29, 2008

B - Beyond English: Accessing the global epidemiological literature

Beyond English: Accessing the global epidemiological literature
Edited by Mr. Isaac Fung Emerging Themes in Epidemiology 2008, 5:21


The thematic series 'Beyond English: Accessing the global epidemiological literature' in Emerging Themes in Epidemiology highlights the wealth of epidemiological and public health literature in the major languages of the world, and the bibliographic databases through which they can be searched and accessed. This editorial suggests that all systematic reviews in epidemiology and public health should include literature published in the major languages of the world and that the use of regional and non-English bibliographic databases should become routine. Look at the site and download articles showing different realities in distant countries from China to Brasil, to Latin American and the Carribean, to Russia, Easterern ad West Europe.

B - Finding open access articles using Google, Google Scholar, OAIster and OpenDOAR

Norris M, Oppenheim C, Rowland F. Finding open access articles using Google, Google Scholar, OAIster and OpenDOAR. Online Information Review. 2008 (32)6:709-15

DOI: 10.1108/14684520810923881

The purpose of this paper is to demonstrate the relative effectiveness of a range of search tools in finding open access (OA) versions of peer reviewed academic articles on the world wide web. The results indicate that, for the moment at least, to find OA articles should it is better to use the general search engines Google and Google Scholar rather than OpenDOAR or OAIster.

Friday, November 28, 2008

B - Peer Review Isn't Perfect...But it's not a conspiracy

Wiley S. Peer Review Isn't Perfect...But it's not a conspiracy designed to maintain the status quo. The Scientists 2008 (11):31

When peer review is negative, it is counterproductive to consider it as a personal assaults. The author, a Pacific Northwest National Laboratory Fellow and director of PNNL's Biomolecular Systems Initiativere, recalls personal experiences and suggests how it is better to wait before reacting to a negative review and then pretend that it was written by his best friends. This helps to discover the truly useful comments contained in the review and take the greatest advantage out of that .

Thursday, November 20, 2008

B - Publication is positively skewed

Bjorn G. Publication is positively skewed. Nature Medicine 2008;14:1133

The article reports the results of some investigations showing that positive results of clinical trials for drugs or devices have a higher chance of getting published in the medical literature than negative trials. This leads to a phenomenon called 'positive publication bias', a serious problem that can make a drug or device appear in the literature to be more effective than it really is. Experts suggest that the FDA Amendments Act of 2007 has improved transparency, because the law mandates that sponsors or primary investigators of clinical trials for approved drugs post a summary of their results in a national open-access database, but not every type of clinical trial is covered by the legislation, nor does it directly affect medical journals.

B - Bubble fusion scientist disciplined

Levi B G. Bubble fusion scientist disciplined. Physics Today 2008;61(11):28-30

Reports the results of a third investigation by Purdue Unuversity into alleged scientific misconduct by Rusi Taleyarkhan in connection with claims to have produced nuclear fusion in a tabletop experiment. The committee considered 12 allegations and found sufficient evidence to cite Taleyarkhan with research misconduct in two cases. The first concerned a paper originally submitted by one author, a postdoctoral fellow, of work in which Taleyarkhan had been involved, and to which he subsequently persuaded one of his master's students to add his name as coauthor after referees' criticism of the first submission. The second concerned a paper in which Taleyarkhan said his eariler results had been subsequently confirmed citing the previously mentioned paper. Taleyarkhan appealed the findings but the University's appeal committee concluded that the committee had followed due process and had an evidentiary basis for its conclusions.

Posted for John Glen

Thursday, November 13, 2008

B - Enhancing the h-index to score total publication output

Anderson TR, Hankin RKS, Killworth PD. Beyond the Durfee square: Enhancing the h-index to score total publication output. Scientometrics 2008;76(3):577-78.

In this article, the authors propose a new bibliometric index, that is the "tapered h-index". It is known that the h-index of an individual scientist corresponds to the number h of his/her papers that each has at least h citations. Nevertheless it happens that the citation count of an article exceeds h. For this reason, in the specific case of the hundreds or thousands of citations that characterize the most highly cited papers, no additional credit is given. So this new index positively scores all citations and it shows smooth increases from year to year.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

B - A fifth force farce

Krauss L M. A fifth force farce. Physics Today 2008;61(10):53-55

Reports how the author, after worrying that Physical Review Letters had published a paper (Physica; Review Letters 56, 3, 1986) based on reanalysis of data published nearly a century before by Eýtvýs, had himself submitted a spoof paper entitled "On evidence for a third foce in the two new sciences: a reanalysis of experiments by Galilei and Salviati" and how the editors had responded to him by sending six devastating referee reports which nevertheless all eventually recommended publication, which were "clearly done in-house but typed on different typewriters and [which] were a brilliant and self-effacing parody on PRL's reputation for using its three requirements to make it difficult for reasonable papers to get published there and also on the common experience of getting referees' reports that are inconsistent with each other but nevertheless come to the same conclusions", and with a covering letter saying that the Editors "in their usual arbitrary and capricious manner, do not come to this conclusion".

Posted for John Glen

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

B - Using medical knowledge sources on handheld computers

Axelson C, Wardh I, Strender L E, Nilsson G. Using medical knowledge sources on handheld computers - A qualitative study among junior doctors. Medical Teacher 2007;29:661-618

The emergence of mobile computing could have an impact on how junior doctors learn. Interviews with five Swedish junior doctors showed that users were satisfied with access to handheld medical knowledge sources, but there was concern about contents, reliability and device dependency. Their experiences of using medical knowledge sources on handheld computers revealed the need to decrease uncertainty about clinical decisions during medical internship, and to find ways to influence the level of self-confidence in the junior doctor's process of decision-making.

B - Better reporting of randomized trials in biomedical journal and conference abstracts

Hopewell S, Eisinga A, Clarke M. Better reporting of randomized trials in biomedical journal and conference abstracts. Journal of Information Science 2008;34(2):162-173
DOI: 10.1177/0165551507080415

This article provides an overview of research evidence underpinning the need for better reporting of abstracts reported in conference proceedings and abstracts of journal articles; with a particular focus in the area of health care, as there is growing concern about the reliability and quality of information published in these reports. Authors We seek to identify current initiatives aimed at improving the reporting of these reports and recommend the development of an extension of the CONSORT Statement, CONSORT for Abstracts.

B - Rethinking doctoral publication practices

Kamler B. Rethinking doctoral publication practices: writing from and beyond the thesis. Studies in Higher Education 2008;33(3):283-294

This article is focused on the importance of giving greater pedagogical attention to writing for publication in higher education. Results of a case study of graduates in science and education show how the different disciplinary and pedagogic practices of each discourse community affect student publication. The author argues that co-authorship with supervisors is a significant pedagogic practice that can enhance the know-how of emergent scholars as well as their publication output. Rethinking co-authorship more explicitly as a pedagogic practice is however needed.

B - What makes an article influential?

Haslam N, Ban L, Kaufmann L, Loughnan S, Peters K, Whelan J, Wilson S. What makes an article influential? Predicting impact in social and personality psychology. Scientometrics 2008;76(1):169-185
Doi: 10.1007/s11192-007-1892-8

Factors contributing to citation impact in social-personality psychology were examined in a bibliometric study of articles published in the field’s three major journals. Impact was operationalized as citations accrued over 10 years by 308 articles published in 1996, and predictors were assessed using multiple databases and trained coders. Multivariate analyses demonstrated several strong predictors of impact. Many other variables did not predict impact.

Monday, October 13, 2008

B - Revising and Polishing a Structured Abstract

Hartley J,Betts L. Revising and Polishing a Structured Abstract:Is it Worth the Time and Effort? JOURNAL OF THE AMERICAN SOCIETY FOR INFORMATION SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY, 59(12):1870–1877, 2008

DOI: 10.1002/asi.20909

Many writers of structured abstracts spend a good dealbof time revising and polishing their texts, but do readers really notice the difference? Three studies of readers using rating scales to judge the clarity of an original and a revised abstract, are reported. Results indicate that the revised abstract as a whole, as
well as certain specific components of it, were judged significantly clearer than the original one. In short,readers can and
do perceive differences between original and revised
texts and that therefore efforts are
worth the time.

B - The economics of post-doc publishing.

Cheung, William L. The economics of post-doc publishing. Ethics in Science & Environmental Politics 2008;8:41-44.


This individual case history in a series on 'The use and misuse of bibliometric indices in evaluating scholarly performance' ruefully tells of how - to gain recognition and increase his job prospects - the author changed his name from Wai Lung to William, and adopted a policy of publishing short pieces on 'hot' topics in high-impact journals with fast reviewing times... This article is part of a
series of 14 articles in the same volume showing a range of views on the value or otherwise of impact factors and other like measures.

Posted for James Hartley

Friday, October 10, 2008

B - Awareness of long-term digital preservation

The Association of Learned and Professional Society Publishers ALPSP has undertaken a survey of its members to enhance awareness of long-term digital preservation issues and to establish the nature and extent of strategies that they have planned. 90% of ALPSP publisher members believe long-term preservation to be a critical issue, but there is some confusion surrounding the nature and extent of publisher participation in long-term preservation schemes.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

B - From Flowers to Fruits

Schussler E E. From Flowers to Fruits: How children's books represent plant reproduction. International Journal of Science Education 2008;30(12):1677-1696

Children's books about science may be playing an increasing role in science instruction. However, the potential effects on student learning are unknown. To investigate whether a subset of books would be appropriate for classroom instruction about plant reproduction, a selection of children's books about plants was analysed to identify how plant reproduction was portrayed and whether the book could generate misconceptions about the topic. As inaccuracies were found the books, authors suggest that content experts should analyse children's books in their area of specialty and provide teachers with recommendations about the use of the books in classrooms.

B - A Plea for a Common Citation Format in Scientific Serials

Leslie D M, Hamilton M J. A Plea for a Common Citation Format in Scientific Serials. Serials Review 2007;33(1):1-3

The article focus on the alarming issue of the time researchers spend correcting reference sections. The time spent by authors and editors conforming to a particular style in reference sections, the total time invested in preparing reference sections among serials in a single year and the person-hours spent on the preparation and editing of reference sections among just the fourteen serials were estimated. From the results obtained emerges a need for uniformity among scientific serials, to redirect energy on science and syntax rather than frivolity that robs scientific pursuit and discovery.

B - Why Current Publication Practices May Distort Science

Young NS, Ioannidis JPA, Al-Ubaydli O (2008) Why Current Publication Practices May Distort Science. PLoS Med 5(10): e201


This study is based on the assumption that scientific information is an economic commodity, and that scientific journals are a medium for its dissemination and exchange. Authors state that the current system of publication in biomedical research provides a distorted view of the reality of scientific data that are generated in the laboratory and clinic. This system can be studied by applying principles from the field of economics. While this exchange system differs from a conventional market in many senses, it shares the goal of transferring the commodity (knowledge) from its producers (scientists) to its consumers (other scientists, administrators, physicians, patients, and funding agencies). The function of this system has major consequences. As auhtors state, idealists may be offended that research be compared to widgets, but realists will acknowledge that journals generate revenue; publications are critical in drug development and marketing and to attract venture capital; and publishing defines successful scientific careers. Economic modelling of science may yield important insights

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

B - A longer paper gathers more citations

Ball P. A longer paper gathers more citations. Nature 2008;455:274-275
Doi: doi:10.1038/455274a

In an analysis of 30,027 peer-reviewed papers published between 2000 and 2004 in top astronomy journals, astronomer Krzysztof Stanek of Ohio State University in Columbus found that the median number of citations increases with the length of the paper, with the only limit that citations start to tail off when papers reach lengths of 80 pages or so. The study highlights some important questions. One is whether, in the face of new dissemination channels, it is realistic to regard citations as an accurate measure of achievement, the other is how long a paper ought to be, if length really does matter.

B - Electronic Publication and the Narrowing of Science and Scholarship

Evans J A. Electronic Publication and the Narrowing of Science and Scholarship. Science 2008;321(5887):395-399
DOI: 10.1126/science.1150473

Electronically available journals may portend an ironic change for science. As more journal issues came online, the articles referenced tend to be more recent, fewer journals and articles are cited, and more of the citations were to fewer journals and articles. Searching online is more efficient and following hyperlinks quickly puts researchers in touch with prevailing opinion, but this may accelerate consensus and narrow the range of findings and ideas built upon.

B - Applying the author affiliation index to library and information science journals

Cronin B, Meho Lokman I. Applying the author affiliation index to library and information science journals. Journal of the American Society for Information Science and Technology. 2008;59(11):1861-1865
Doi: 10.1002/asi.20895

The authors use a novel method - the Author Affiliation Index (AAI) - to determine whether faculty at the top-10 North American library and information science (LIS) programs have a disproportionate presence in the premier journals of the field. The study finds that LIS may be both too small and too interdisciplinary a domain for the AAI to provide reliable results.

B - Conference proceedings as a source of scientific information

Lisée C, Larivière V, Archambault É. Conference proceedings as a source of scientific information: A bibliometric analysis. Journal of the American Society for Information Science and Technology 2008;59(11):1776-1784
Doi: 10.1002/asi.20888

This article examines the scientific impact and aging of conference proceedings compared to those of scientific literature in general. Results show that the relative importance of proceedings is diminishing over time, and that the scientific impact of proceedings is losing ground to other types of scientific literature in nearly all fields. Thus proceedings have a relatively limited scientific impact, their relative importance is shrinking, and they become obsolete faster than the scientific literature in general.

B - What Does it Take for a Canadian Political Scientist to be Cited?

Montpetit É, Blais A, Foucault M. What Does it Take for a Canadian Political Scientist to be Cited? Social Science Quarterly 2008;89(3):802 - 816
Doi: 10.1111/j.1540-6237.2008.00561.x

The article examines the factors that influence the frequency whereby scholarly articles published by Canadian political scientists are cited. 1,860 journal articles published between 1985 and 2005 by 758 Canadian political scientists have been collected. Results showed that an article is more likely to be widely cited if it is published in a prestigious journal, if it is written by several authors, if it applies quantitative methods, if it compares countries, and if it deals with administration and public policy or elections and political parties. Faculty members who belong to larger departments and those who are women are more cited.

B - Cyberabstracts

Pinto M. Cyberabstracts: a portal on the subject of abstracting designed to improve information literacy skills. Journal of Information Science, 2008;34(5):667-679
DOI: 10.1177/0165551507086262

An academic portal specifically centred on abstracts and abstracting resources is proposed with the aim of mproving the information literacy skills of librarianship and information science students. The research to design it mainly consists of the selection, assessment and web-display of the most relevant abstracts on knowledge management, information representation, natural language processing, abstract/abstracting, modelling the scientific document, information retrieval and information evaluation. The result is the Cyberabstracts portal.

B - Amusing titles in scientific journals and article citation

Sagi I. Amusing titles in scientific journals and article citation. Journal of Information Science, 2008;34(5):680-687
DOI: 10.1177/0165551507086261

The present study examines whether the use of humor in scientific article titles is associated with the number of citations an article receives. The association between the levels of amusement and pleasantness and the article's monthly citation average has been assessed in articles published over 10 years in two of the most prestigious journals in psychology, Psychological Bulletin and Psychological Review. The results show that the pleasantness rating was weakly associated with the number of citations, while articles with highly amusing titles received fewer citations.

Monday, October 06, 2008

N - Where are the negative results?

"In their own way, academic journals are exactly as selective as the tabloid health pages," claims the doctor and journalist Ben Goldacre in the Guardian newspaper on 20 September ( He writes that only 5.9% of industry sponsored trials on cancer treatment get published and that 75% had positive results. Doctors and academics need all data, positive and negative, to make fully informed decisions about treatment and the direction in which research should go. A comparison of all cancer trials registered in and published and indexed in PubMed found that only 17.6% of 2028 trials were published, 64.5% with positive results.

Friday, October 03, 2008

B - Don't release other people's data without their consent

Frank DN. Don't release other people's data without their consent. Nature

Letter commenting on Nature's report that data photographed during a
conference publication were later published without the presenter's
consent. The issue is whether the data are released in a fair and
representative manner. Biology operates under the implicit, ofd often
explicit, ethic that data presented at meetings are personal
communications - publication of which requires formal approval by the
originating researchers. Anyway, what is the purpose of reporting
incompletely vetted and possibly erroneous experimental results?

Thanks to Margaret Cooter

B - Science journals have been slow to make themselves audible

Achten WMJ. Science journals have been slow to make themselves audible.
Nature 2008;455:590.

Podcasting holds huge potential for visually impaired people and others;
listening to scientific articles read aloud could increase readers'
concentration and absorption of information. Several newspapers and
magazines are offered in podcast form, but the scientific press is lagging

Thanks to Margaret Cooter

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

B - Better reporting of randomized trials

Sally Hopewell, Anne Eisinga, Mike Clarke, Better reporting of randomized trials in biomedical journal and conference abstracts, Journal of Information Science, XX (X) 2007, pp. 1-12

Well reported research published in conference and journal abstracts is important considering that individuals often base their initial assessment of a study on the information reported in abstracts. This article refers specifically to abstracts reporting randomized trials and seek to identify current initiatives aimed at improving the reporting of these reports, like an extention of the CONSORT Statement that could be developed (CONSORT for Abstracts).

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

N - Law demands patients' consent

Biomedical journals must always have explicit consent to publish medical information about an identifiable living patient, insists UK data protection legislation, Jane Smith explained in the BMJ (2008;337:a1572). Doctors should ask for consent before they lose touch with patients; alternatively complete anonymisation might be a solution to not having consent. The BMJ used to waive the need for consent occasionally, but has revised its guidelines for authors. The same issue of the BMJ considers the ethics surrounding an article that the BMJ rejected because consent had not been obtained that was subsequently published in a different journal (a1231, a1232, and a1233). See also

Thursday, September 25, 2008

N - "Going forward" is step backward

Office jargon "cloaks the brutal modern workplace in such brainlessly upbeat language," says Lucy Kellaway, complaining on the BBC's website, and usage trickles down into common parlance. "Like 'like,' 'going forward' is as contagious as smallpox. It started with business people, and now has not only infected farmers, it has reached epidemic proportions with footballers." She also hates the phenomenon of "up"—"to free up," "to head up," and, worst, "to give a heads up." To find out more about "idea showers," "let's touch base about that offline," and "low hanging fruit" see

N - Who does peer review?

Ai Lin Chun, associate editor for Nature Nanotechnology, was asked how researchers become peer reviewers, in the Nature Network forum. She looks for referees with a good publication record. Most are established academics, but younger researchers recommended by their professors who do a good job might be asked again. "I enjoy referees who provide a thoughtful, well balanced report with suggested improvements for the authors." Timeliness is also important: “We do have a chasing system, but it is certainly not my favourite thing to do." And bad reports don’t help regardless of status: "We feel less enthusiastic in asking them to review again after a few bad occasions." See

N - Editing magazine indexed

A complete index to Editing Matters, the magazine of the Society for Editors and Proofreaders, and its predecessors CopyRight and SFEP Newsletter has been compiled by Christopher Phipps of the Society of Indexers. The index is online at

N - Director and students in journal row

The director of the German Max Planck Institute for Biological Cybernetics has claimed that the journal Human Brain Mapping acted incorrectly when it published data taken without permission by research students, Nature reports (2008;454:6-7). He says that the students’ interpretation is incorrect, that the paper could mislead the field, and that the journal has denied him a right to reply. The students told Nature, "We are confident, and rigorous peer review agreed, that the data are appropriate. . . We stand by the conclusions we made in our paper."

N - Publishers pay to deposit research

Publishers, such as Nature Publishing Group (NPG) and Oxford Journals, are meeting the costs of depositing research in open access repositories to help scientists meet the requirements of research funders. The US National Institutes of Health, for example, requires research that it funds to be made freely available no later than a year after publication. David Hoole, head of content licensing at NPG, said “Our primary focus is getting the deposit into PubMed Central and UK PubMed Central running smoothly for as many NPG journals as possible.” NPG will deposit the manuscript as submitted by the author, but Oxford will deposit the published version. See and

N - Calling writers on diabetes

The Alliance for European Diabetes Research ( wishes to draw attention of the media and freelance journalists to its next press conference, near Frankfurt on 26 November. In 2008 the alliance began a two year survey to identify gaps and highlight strengths to devise a strategy for diabetes research in Europe (DIAMAP, The alliance includes the major European diabetes stakeholder organisations and drug companies. EURADIA has been instrumental in highlighting the need for increased and better coordinated funding for diabetes research.
Thanks to Elise Langdon-Neuner

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

N - The face of PubMed

The Pubmed Faceoff site ( displays PubMed results using as a set of human faces, with features determined by the age, citation count, and journal impact factor associated with each paper. You can tell at a glance which papers are new, exciting, and high impact and which are languishing, uncited, and unread. The visualisation uses Chernoff Faces, a technique developed in the 1970s that depends on our ability to detect small differences in the size, shape, and expressions of human faces. Each dimension in a dataset is mapped to a different facial feature, whether the slant of eyebrows, size of nose, or chubbiness of cheeks. See

N - Get your scientific integrity calendar

Justin Bilicki won this year's Science Idol competition, an cartoon contest with the theme of scientific integrity. Twelve of the finalists' cartoons are available as a 2009 calendar, available from the US Union of Concerned Scientists’ website. The union says, "Recent investigations and surveys show that political interference in science has harmed the ability of federal agencies to protect our health, safety, and environment. We are building a foundation to guide the next president in restoring scientific integrity to federal policy making. The next president and Congress must renew the independence of science at federal government agencies and create a thriving scientific enterprise." See

N - Dictionary threatens to drop words

Collins is threatening to drop obscure words from its English dictionary this year because it can’t fit them all in. But its ruthlessness is tempered with a touch of clemency—and it’s great public relations: it will save any of the words that appear six times in the company’s database of recent word usage in the media. Celebrities have chosen a word to rescue from a list of 24. Andrew Motion, the poet laureate, is lobbying for the retention of “skirr,” which is the sound that the birds’ wings make in flight. And Stephen Fry has chosen “fusby,” which means short, stout, or squat. See

N - Researchers embrace journalists

More than half of researchers questioned rated their contact with journalists as mostly good, and four out of 10 found media coverage beneficial to their career, a survey reported in Science has found (2008;321:204-5). More than two thirds of researchers had contact with the media during a period of three years, and researchers in Germany, France, the United Kingdom, Japan, and the United States had similar numbers of interactions with journalists and were similarly content. The survey dispels the idea that scientists avoid journalists and are disappointed with the way that they communicate science to the public.

N - On the Nature of PLoS

A story in Nature about the finances of open access journal publisher the Public Library of Science (PLoS) has attracted criticism in the blogosphere. Nature Publishing Group publishes traditional subscription journals, and its news piece has been criticised for lacking objectivity. Declan Butler’s story began, “PLoS, the poster child of the open access publishing movement, is . . . relying on bulk, cheap publishing of lower quality papers to subsidise its handful of high quality flagship journals.” He went on to mention PLoS One’s approach to peer review and PLoS’s use of unpaid staff. A selection of criticisms is at

N - Nature looks at big data

Marking the 10th anniversary of Google, the 4 September issue of Nature focused on big data sets: “As an increasing number of research disciplines are discovering, the vast amounts of data are presenting fresh challenges that urgently need to be addressed.” Articles in the issue look at managing petabytes of data, analysis of complex datasets, online community collaborations, and sophisticated techniques for visualisation. “The future of science depends [on] cleverness again being applied to data for their own sake, complementing scientific hypotheses as a basis for exploring today’s information cornucopia,” an editorial concluded. (Nature 2008;455:1)

N - "With credit comes responsibility"

The Lancet has censured a lead author who claimed honorary authorship as a reason for not overseeing a paper that the journal had to retract. The author’s university has accepted this defence even though the author signed a statement before publication confirming substantial intellectual contribution. “Using gift authorship as an excuse for not taking responsibility . . . should not be tolerated,” the Lancet says. The research was retracted after legal and other irregularities became apparent—for example, in the way patient consent was obtained. See the paper (Lancet 2007;369:2179-86), the retraction (Lancet 2008;372:789), and an editorial about authors’ responsibilities (Lancet 2008;372:778).

N - Researchers post data online immediately

Some scientists are posting all their research data online as soon as they produce it in the interests of collaboration and to improve communication, Nature reports. The risks include not being able to publish in a journal, for example, the American Chemical Society doesn’t allow prepublication in any form; having data stolen by rivals; and missing out on patents. Using a wiki with time stamps could be used as evidence of priority. In research involving privacy of patients or animal experimentation data should not be made fully or immediately available. (Nature 2008;455:273)

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

N - Long papers get cited more

The median number of citations rises with the length of the paper, an analysis of 20 027 peer reviewed astronomy papers published in 2000-4 ( On average 2-3 page articles had six citations, and 50 page articles 50 citations. "I expected that shorter papers would be cited more than longer ones,” said Jörg Dietrich, of the European Southern Observatory. “I assumed that people don’t have time to read long papers." With the increasing use of citation statistics as indicators of performance, there is a danger that a paper’s length might be increased to gain citations. (Nature 2008;455:274-5

N - Open access doesn’t increase citations

Articles available for free online are no more likely to be cited than articles published in a subscription journal, but online access is greater, a randomised controlled trial has shown (BMJ 2008;337:a568). The trial comprised 1619 research articles and 11 journals published by the American Physiological Society. Fiona Godlee, editor of the BMJ, said, “The fact that these initial results suggest open access increases usage but not citations fits with the way in which citations are largely generated by people who already have access to the literature and for whom open access is therefore less of a benefit.” (

N - Latin American journals get boost

The number of Latin American and Caribbean journals indexed in the Web of Science has doubled to 159 after Thomson Reuters changed their selection criteria to get the most influential regionally important journals in the index. Abel Packer, at the Latin American and Caribbean Center on Health Sciences Information, said, “This notable increase . . . matches up the efforts and advocacy that [the centre] has made in the last decades to enhance visibility and accessibility of the scientific production published in . . . the region. The increase helps correcting the biases of the international indexes when indexing quality journals in this region.” (
Thanks to Elise Langdon-Neuner

N - Publishers' group appoints US director

The Association of Learned and Professional Society Publishers (ALPSP) has appointed Isabel Czech as executive director, North America. Ian Russell, the association’s chief executive, explained, “The membership of ALPSP is growing and much of that growth is from members in the United States and Canada. We have created this new position to help support the membership in North America.” Czech has spent more than 30 years working in publisher relations at Thomson Scientific, now a part of Thomson Reuters. ALPSP’s 350 organizational members in 37 countries publish more than 10 000 journals, about half the world's total. (
Thanks to Joan Marsh

Monday, September 15, 2008

B - Pat on back is premature

Dray T. Pat on back is premature. APS News 2008;17(8):4

Letter commenting on that of W.G.Unruh and the response of APS to it (APS News 17(6):8), in which the editors extensively rebut criticisms which do not appear to have been levelled at the APS, while completely ignoring the one that was, and calling for public discussion of the conditions that APS still imposes through its copyright practice.

Posted for John Glen

B - Fair use protects authors' rights

Myers R A. Fair use protects authors' rights. APS News 2008;17(8):4

Letter commenting on that of W.G.Unruh (APS News 17(6):8) and saying that US copyright law explicitly defines the fair use limitations on the exclusive rights conferred by the law. This is followed by "Unruh responds:" in which Unruh states that "fair use" is so limited that it would not cover many things an author might expect to be able to do with his own data - indeed it gives the author no more right to use the work than any person off the street.

Posted for John Glen

B - Copyright causes conflict of interest

Landis G A. Copyright causes conflict of itnerest. APS News 2008;17(8);4

Letter commenting on that of W.G.Unruh (APS News 17(6)8) and pointing out that normally one would expect the APS, the organization that usually would be defending the rights of physicists, ought to be outspoken in organizing physicists to keep their rights. But in this case, the organization is the very organization that is taking the copyright - even though there is no legal requirement for them to do so.

Posted for John Glen

B - Copyright decision a matter of principle

Freese M H. Copyright decision a matter of principle. APS News 2008;17(8):4

Letter commenting on that of W.G.Unruh (APS News 17(6):8) and saying some changes in APS copyright language are clearly appropriate and suggesting the best principle should be based on the contribution of the author and the journal: the ideas and data should clearly belong to the authors, and the reviewed, edited, laid out, and delivered copy should belong to the community through the journal.

Posted for John Glen

Friday, August 29, 2008

B - Relationship between Quality and Editorial Leadership of Biomedical Research Journals

Matarese V. Relationship between Quality and Editorial Leadership of Biomedical Research Journals: A Comparative Study of Italian and UK Journals. PLoS ONE 2008; 3(7):e2512

Several organizations draw up statements guiding the quality of biomedical reporting, but not all journals adhere to these guidelines. Those that follow them demonstrate “editorial leadership” in their author community. In this study, research journals from two European countries were studied and compared to identify a relationship between editorial leadership and journal quality.
The data underlying this paper was first presented at the METM07 in Madrid in 2007: “Does editorial leadership (seen in the instructions to authors) determine biomedical journal quality? A case-control study between Italy and the UK”

B - Acquiring or enhancing a translation specialism

Maher A, Waller S, Kerans ME. Acquiring or enhancing a translation specialism: the monolingual corpus-guided approach. Journal of Specialized Translation. 2008. 10: 56-75. (Available at:

This article gives an account of how to go about setting up and using a corpus of model texts to guide editing or translation decision-making. It describes tools and proposes approaches that provide practical solutions for the working translators and editors who work in specialised fields. The article complements a poster that was first presented at the ninth EASE conference in Krakow in 2006.

B - Publishing perils include single-blind review

Williams L. Publishing perils include single-blind review. Physics Today 2007;60(11):12

Letter suggesting single-blind peer review is an important and corrosive impediment to publication as it has a fundamental flaw: it allows reviewers to assess the author(s) of a paper along with the scientific content and thereby allows nonscientific considerations to creep in.

Posted for Jonh Glen

B - Roadblocks deter today's Einstein Physics Today

Aghassi W J. Roadblocks deter today's Einstein Physics Today. 2007;60(10):12.

Letter contributing to the discussion raised by Lee Smolin's comments "Why no new Einstein" ibid. 59(11)10, 59(1)1, 58(6)56. Aghassi says "If a new Einstein, with a revolutionary theory, were to suddenly appear [...] his or her paper would never see the light of day. Imagine it, a person with no PhD, no university affiliation, an unheard-of theory, backed by equations constructed by that person alone, with no lab data to back it up? [...] in today's physics community only credentials and conformity count."

Posted for John Glen

B - Credentials and conformity

Greyber, Howard D. Credentials and conformity. Physics Today. 2008;61(7):8.

Letter supporting the letter by William Aghassi ibid. 60(10)12 but going further saying "Actually credentials also mean little today, unless your research is in a trendy topic like string theory and you write from a famous university like MIT, Cambridge University, Imperial College or Caltech. Gatekeepers and editors shun originality."

Posted for John Glen

Monday, August 18, 2008

B - Scientist to appeal misconduct charge

Gwynne, Peter. 2998 Scientist to appeal misconduct charge. Physics World 21(8)11.

Reports that lawyers for Rusi Taleyarkhan are preparing an appeal over the findings of a panel set up by Purdue University that found him guilty of two charges of scientific misconduct in that he had cited a paper by researchers in his own lab as if it were an independent confirmation of his alleged discovery of bubble fusion in 2002 and also that he added the name of a student who had not contributed to that paper as an author.

Posted for John Glen

Thursday, August 14, 2008

N - UN slates UK libel laws

The United Nations’ committee on human rights has attacked UK libel laws for discouraging coverage of matters of public interest: British libel laws have “served to discourage critical media reporting on matters of serious public interest, adversely affecting the ability of scholars and journalists to publish their work, including through the phenomenon known as libel tourism,” the committee said. In “libel tourism” wealthy plaintiffs can sue in the High Court in London over articles that would not warrant an action in their own country. The UK government has been urged to require a would-be claimant to prove malice by a publisher or author.
(Guardian 2008 Aug 14

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

B - Researchers' writing competence

SMR Vasconcelos, M M. Sorenson, J Leta, MC Sant'Ana, PD Batista. Researchers' writing competence: a bottleneck in the publication of Latin American Science? EMBO reports 9 (8)2008:700-602

Doi: 10.1038/embor.2008.143

Writing a publication for an English language international journal is a linguistic burden for non English speaking countries. The case of Brasilian research output is investigated confirming that poor English language knowledge and poor writing skills often represent a barrier to publish in high rank journals and more generally to reach high scientific productivity. This applies to Latin American as well as European countries.

Thanks to Elise Langdon Neuner

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

B - Institute plans a group for physics communicators

Macdonald A. Institute plans a group for physics communicators. Interactions 2008 July, 4

The Institute of Physics is setting up a new Physics Communicators Group to enable experienced and novice communicators to come together to share good ideas and offer mutual support and advice. Possibilities include a database of ideas that members have found to work, training in communication techniques for different age groups or in how to target different sections of the public with activities they will be keen to participate in. An inaugural meeting took place on 11 July. The contact person is given as Clare Mills.

Posted for John Glen

Monday, July 28, 2008

N - English gets millionth word

Experts predict that the millionth word in the English language will arrive on 29 April 2009. At present there are 995 844 official words, according to the Global Language Monitor in Texas ( The monitor established a base number of words in English using the generally accepted unabridged dictionaries, such as the Oxford English Dictionary. And a proprietary algorithm calculated a rate of creation of new words found in print, including technical and scientific journals; on television and radio; and on webpages and in blogs. Paul Payack, founding president of the monitor, said that the most literate person uses fewer than 70 000 words.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

B - Is the answer still in the machine: do publishers need digital rights management?

Calow D, Egan R. Is the answer still in the machine: do publishers need digital rights management? Learned Publishing 2008;21:167-175
doi: 10.1087/095315108X323857

The implementation of digital rights management technology in other media sectors provides valuable lessons to publishers. In electronic publishing, digital rights management must form part of a flexible solution to the problem of unauthorized digital reproduction and distribution of copyright works – rather than relying on an academic culture of trust.

B - Expressions of concern and their uses

Noonan BM, Parrish D. Expressions of concern and their uses. Learned Publishing 2008;21:209-13.
doi: 10.1087/095315108X 288857

How should editors communicate with their readers after an allegation of research misconduct has been made about a published article? Some use an “expression of concern” to inform readers of a potential problem. This is a tool for ensuring the integrity of the research record during what may be a long misconduct investigation; policies regarding its use are needed.

B - Trends in journal prices: an analysis of selected journals, 2000-2006

Creaser C, Whate S. Trends in journal prices: an analysis of selected journals, 2000-2006. Learned Publishing 2008;21:214-224.

Examines overall price, price per page, and price per point of impact factor for institutional subscriptions for biomedical and social science journals for 11 publishers. Prices, and rates of increase, vary considerably. There is some evidence that not-for-profit publishers may, on average, offer better value for money I terms of price per page and price per point of impact factor.

B - Electronic Publication and the Narrowing of Science and Scholarship

Evans J A. Electronic Publication and the Narrowing of Science and Scholarship. Science 2008;321(5887):395 - 399
DOI: 10.1126/science.1150473

Using a database of 34 million articles, their citations (1945 to 2005), and online availability (1998 to 2005), the author shows that as more journal issues came online, the articles referenced tended to be more recent, fewer journals and articles were cited, and more of those citations were to fewer journals and articles. The results of this study are that searching online is more efficient and following hyperlinks quickly puts researchers in touch with prevailing opinion, but this may accelerate consensus and narrow the range of findings and ideas built upon.

B - Survey Finds Citations Growing Narrower as Journals Move Online

Couzin J. SOCIOLOGY: Survey Finds Citations Growing Narrower as Journals Move Online. Science 2008;321(5887):329
DOI: 10.1126/science.321.5887.329a

The article is focused on a survey analysing on how the migration online of millions of scholarly articles in recent years, has affected research. The survey shows that a smaller number of articles than in the past are winning the popularity contest, pulling ahead of the pack in citations, even though more articles than ever before are available, and that also the average age of citations has dropped. On the basis of this results, the author notes that the shifting of researchers to a central set of publications may lead to easier consensus and less active debate in academia.

B - The Google generation: the information behaviour of the researcher of the future

Rowlands I, Nicholas D, Williams P, Huntington P, Fieldhouse M, Gunter B, Withey R, Jamali HR , Dobrowolski T, Tenopir C. The Google generation: the information behaviour of the researcher of the future. Aslib Proceedings. 2008;60(4):290 - 310

DOI: 10.1108/00012530810887953

This study aims to identify how the specialist researchers of the future (those born after 1993) are likely to access and interact with digital resources in five to ten years' time. The impact of digital transition on the information behaviour of the Google Generation is investigated and results show that ICTs on the young are generally overestimated. The study claims that although young people demonstrate an apparent ease and familiarity with computers, they rely heavily on search engines, view rather than read and do not possess the critical and analytical skills to assess the information that they find on the web.

Monday, July 21, 2008

B - How many cardiac surgeons does it take to write a research article?

Modi P, Hassan A, Teng CJ, Chitwood, WR Jr. How many cardiac surgeons does it take to write a research article? Seventy years of authorship proliferation and internationalization in the cardiothoracic surgical literature. Journal of Thoracic and Cardiovascular Surgery 2008;136:4-6.
doi: 10.1016/j.jtcvs.2007.12.057

In a sample of 3669 articles published between 1936 and 2006, the mean number of authors per article increased in all three journals surveyed, and overall is now about six. Less than 5% of articles have just one or two authors, and 74% have six or more. Multinational articles made up 12%, having been 0% as recently as 1976. These trends are similar to those in plastic surgery and neurosurgery. In four prestigious American medical journals, mean number of authors increased from 4.5 in 1980 to 6.9 in 2000; in radiology it increased from 2.2 in 1966 to 4.4 in 1991. “Various support personnel,” comment the authors, “might now be awarded authorship, whereas once they might have been simply acknowledged [and] ‘guest’ or ‘gift’ authorship might be an important contributory factor. Authorship criteria must be respected to maintain ethical standards.

Thanks to Margaret Cooter

B - Author perceptions of journal quality

Regazzi JJ, Aytac, S. Author perceptions of journal quality. Learned Publishing 2008;21:225-235. DOI: 10.1087/095315108X288938

Investigates author-perceived quality characteristics of science, technology, and medicine journals, using questionnaire survey, focus groups, and semi-structured face-to-face interviews. The three most important attributes were the reputation of the journal, the estimated length of time to article publication, and the readership of the journal.

B - The tiger in the corner

Morris S. The tiger in the corner. Learned Publishing 2008;21:163-165. (doi: 10.1087/095315108X323901
The continuum from research through discussion and preprints to publication is changing: the informal stages are becoming more important and the final, formal stage is being eroded – and the formal role of the journal may become less important. A few publishers have developed new features and tools to fit into researchers’ new working patterns, but most journals may not have the resources for radical development and experimentation, and they may be held back by the innate conservatism of their organizations.

Monday, July 07, 2008

N - Standards for journal articles versions

Recommendations for describing different versions of journal articles have been released by the National Information Standards Organization in partnership with the Association of Learned and Professional Society Publishers. The guidance, from the technical working group, gives “a simple, practical way of describing the versions of scholarly journal articles that typically appear online before, during, and after formal journal publication.” The guidelines aim to reduce the problem of multiple versions at different stages of the publication process being available online. The group explored the lifecycle of journal articles to identify common stages that describe the evolution of articles. See
Thanks to Joan Marsh

N - US launches open data repository

The US Department of Energy has launched a tool to find scientific data generated in the course of research sponsored by the department in various science disciplines ( The data include computer simulations, numerical files, figures and plots, interactive maps, multimedia, and scientific images. The site is intended to be useful to students, the public, and researchers who are new to a discipline or looking for experimental or observational data outside their area of expertise. The search interfaces allow the user to understand, analyse, and use the data in the context of a user’s own research. ( 2008 Jul 4)
Thanks to Joan Marsh

Friday, July 04, 2008

N - Multilingual advice for strong observational studies

The STROBE statement, guidelines to strengthen the reporting of observational studies in epidemiology, has recently been published in German (Internist 2008;49:688-93; doi: 10.1007/s00108-008-2138-4) and Spanish (Gaceta Sanitaria 2008;22:144-50). The guidelines cover what should be included in a report to increase its generalisability and usefulness. The English guidelines for cohort, case-control, and cross sectional studies have been published in several top journals, including the BMJ (2007;335:806-8; doi: 10.1136/bmj.39335.541782.AD). A translation was published in the Chinese edition of the Lancet. Medical journals are increasingly adopting the recommendations. The translations are available at

Thanks to Arjan Polderman

Monday, June 30, 2008

B - Descriptions of treatment in trials and reviews

Glasziou P, Meats E, Heneghan C, Shepperd S. What is missing from descriptions of treatment in trials and reviews? BMJ 2008;336:1472-1474 (28 June), doi:10.1136/bmj.39590.732037.47

Replicating non-pharmacological treatments depends on how well they have been described in research studies. Many current trials and reviews often omit crucial details of treatments, while clinicians need details of the "how to" to use treatments tested in trials. Providing some additional details could improve the uptake of trial results in clinical practice.

Thanks to Andrew Herxheimer

B - The plague of plagiarism in an online world

Gorman GE. The plague of plagiarism in an online world. Online Information Review 2008 (32) 3:297-301

DOI: 10.1108/14684520810889637

Plagiarism is a long standing, but increasingly problematic, occurrence in academic writing and publishing and is now easier thanks to the Internet technologies.
The paper suggests to create clearly and fully articulated protocols regarding the nature, context and penalty for plagiarism.

B - Guidelines for Reporting Health Research

Simera I, Altman D G, Moher D, Schulz K F, Hoey J. Guidelines for Reporting Health Research: The EQUATOR Network's Survey of Guideline Authors. PLoS Medicine, June 24, 2008

The survey carried out by the EQUATOR Network, a new initiative funded by the UK National Health Service, was aimed at coordinating the efforts of those developing good reporting guidelines across many areas of medical research, and at providing resources for training and for the promotion of guidelines. The poor reporting of a medical study's methodology and findings can in fact lead to ineffective treatments, the waste of valuable health care resources and harm to patients. The survey found that financial support is needed to help promote guidelines once they have been developed. It also showed a need to harmonize the development of these different guidelines, that is they should all have a robust methodology to be widely accepted).

Saturday, June 21, 2008

N - Feedjit, Real time traffic feeds

Feedjit gives immediate feed on your traffic. It is free and easy to install, you don't need to register to get it for your blog or website. I just included in the EASE Journal Blog.

Friday, June 20, 2008

B - To Share or not to Share:Publication and QualityAssurance of ResearchData Outputs

To Share or not to Share:Publication and QualityAssurance of ResearchData Outputs Report commissioned by the Research Information Network (RIN), June 2008

The digital age has offered to the research community new ways to use research findings. Research data are a valuable long-term resource and making them publicly-available is essential to realise their full potential value. But until now we have lacked a clear picture of how researchers are responding to these challenges. Based on the results of more than 100 detailed interviews with researchers across eight subject and cross-disciplinary areas, the RIN report points out that realising the full potential of data requires further progress in data management policies and practice.,%20main%20-%20final.pdf

B - Are international co-publications an indicator for quality of scientific research?

Schmoch U, Schubert T. Are international co-publications an indicator for quality of scientific research? Scientometrics 2008;74(3):361-377

The article deals with the role of internationally co-authored papers, or co-publications. Specifically, the authors compare, within a data-set of German research units, citation and co-publication indicators as proxies for scientific research quality assessment. They also address the issue of the relationship between citations and co-publications. Their results suggest that, although there is a strong partial correlation between citations and co-publications, co-publication indicators cannot be used as a proxy for research quality assessment, Thus, concerning this question, there remains a primer on citation analysis.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

N - Free access boosts science in poor countries

Low cost access to research in poor countries has been accompanied by an advance in scientific discovery, an analysis by the publisher Elsevier suggests. The Health InterNetwork Access to Research Initiative (HINARI), run by the World Health Organization, subsidises access to Elsevier journals. Between 2002 and 2006, in 105 countries with HINARI access papers published in international peer reviewed journals rose 63% compared with 38% in 102 rich countries. Kimberley Parker, HINARI’s programme manager, said “We are pleased to be able to say that we look to be a contributing factor but we can't prove it.”
Thanks to Joan Marsh

B - How to give away your birthright for what?

Unruh, W.G. 2008 Physicists and copyright - How to give away your birthright for what?. APS News 17(6)8.

Draws attention to the consequences of some journals' copyright transfer agreements which mean that "derivative works" which "depend on" the original need the permission of the copyright holders and urging authors to scrutinize such agreements before signing and not to sign those that do not specifically allow the authors to make derivative works, in any context, commerical or non-commercial. On the same page Gene D. Sprouse (Editor in Chief, APS) and Joseph W. Serene (Treasurer/Publisher, APS) reply under the title A response from APS to say what the American Physical Society's position is and why they believe their current policy is defensible. They also refer to a list of "frequently answered questions" on their website: http://forms.aps,org/author/copyfaq.html.

Posted for John Glen

Friday, June 13, 2008

N - The power of n=1

Two new journals hope to harness the evidence in medical case reports. Cases Journal (, launched by BioMed Central in May, is open access and peer reviewed and authors must pay £99 per report. BMJ Case Reports ( is a free online journal launched in June. It charges authors an annual fee of £95, and they can submit as many reports as they like. Case reports are weak evidence but are a starting point for further research, the editors say. And together they might provide evidence for people with comorbities, who are often excluded from randomised trials. See

Monday, June 09, 2008

N - Government dismisses simplified spellings

The UK schools secretary, Ed Balls, has dismissed as “nonsense” claims that tricky English spellings hinder children’s education. The literacy researcher Masha Bell said that by the age of 11 children face 800 words with difficult spellings, such as monkey, spinach, caterpillar, dwarf, soldiers, and stomach, at a recent conference of the Spelling Society ( The society campaigns to raise awareness of “the problems caused by the irregularity of English spelling” and promotes spelling reform. “English has an unspeakably awful spelling system," she told the Observer newspaper. “It is the worst of all the alphabetical languages.” (, 8 Jun 2008, “English is too hard to read for children”).

Sunday, June 08, 2008

B - How Do US Journalists Cover Treatments, Tests, Products, and Procedures? An Evaluation of 500 Stories

Schwitzer G. How Do US Journalists Cover Treatments, Tests, Products, and Procedures? An Evaluation of 500 Stories. PLoS Med 2008;5(5): e95 doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.0050095

Starting from the premise that the daily delivery of news stories about new treatments, tests, products, and procedures may have a profound, and perhaps harmful, impact on health care consumers, a new US Web site project, (, modeled after similar efforts in Australia and Canada, has been created to evaluate and grade health news coverage, notifying journalists of their grades. This article reports on the project's findings after its first 22 months and after evaluation of 500 health news stories hoping that the evaluation of health news proposed will lead news organizations and all who engage in the dissemination of health news and information to reevaluate their practices to better serve a more informed health care consumer population.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

N - XML extra for Word helps editors

An extension to Word 2007 allows science journal editors to create article templates, tailored for their individual requirements. These templates can encourage authors to write articles with greater consistency and to include semantic information, which is essential for the search of articles in digital form. Microsoft has released the enhancement, which supports the use of the National Library of Medicine’s XML (extensible markup language) format and National Center for Biotechnology Information format for digital books. This “will help publishers to process these articles in their editorial and production departments,” said Ahmed Hindawi, chief of the publisher Hindawi. See
Thanks to Margaret Cooter.

Friday, May 16, 2008

N - Nature rallies for evolution

Between now and the 200th anniversary of Charles Darwin’s birth on 12 February 2009 science academies and societies should summarise evidence for evolution on their websites and take every opportunity to promote it, a Nature editorial says. Resources to help include the US National Academy of Sciences’ updated booklet Science, Evolution, and Creationism ( And the palaeontologist Kevin Padian destroys the false assertions by creationists that there are critical gaps in the fossil record in a court testimony ( Darwin’s complete works are online at Creationism is strong in the United States and rising in Europe ( (Nature 2008;451:108; doi: 10.1038/451108b)

N - Medline has 121 000 duplicate articles

Researchers estimate that the Medline database contains 121 000 duplicate articles. They analysed more than 62 213 abstracts indexed in Medline and found that 421 (1.4%) were duplicates with the same authors. They extrapolated this to the entire database, they write in a commentary in Nature (2008;451:397-9; doi: 10.1038/451397a). The detection of duplicate papers has not kept up with the rapid growth in scientific publication, they say, and they call on journals to use software to identify duplication and the community to expose unethical authors. Duplicate publication was discussed on a Nature blog (See Bioinformatics 2008;24:243-9; doi: 10.1093/bioinformatics/btm574.)

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

B - Weighted impact factor proposal

Habibzadeh F, Yadollahie M. Journal weighted impact factor: A proposal. Journal of Informetrics 2008;2(2):164-72

The authors consider the sole impact factor not adequate enough to measure journal quality. Therefore they propose to improve the calculation of the journal impact factor by taking into account both the number of citations and a factor concerning the prestige of the citing journals relative to the cited journal.
This "weighted impact factor" could be a better scientometrics measure of journal quality.

Monday, May 05, 2008

B - Mind the hack

Cartwright, Jon. 2008 Mind the hack. Physics World 21(5)14-15

Two of the worl's biggest science journals (Nature and Science) control their news coverage by giving sneak previews of research under embargo while limiting how scientists can interact with journalists. The author looks at whether the system benefits, or hinders, science communication. This article is also cited in the Editorial, in the same issue, entitled "Embargoed Science: Embargoes may have their faults but they mask wider problems in science communication".

Posted for John Glen

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

N - WHO renames bird flu viruses

The World Health Organisation has standardised the nomenclature for H5N1 avian influenza viruses. The group of “Fujian-like” viruses should be referred to as “clade 2.3.4,” for example. WHO says the reason for the change is scientific and that it was already in progress when China complained that the name stigmatises its province. Clade 2.3.4 viruses are not restricted to Fuijan—they have caused cases of bird flu in humans in Laos, Burma, and Vietnam. “The geographical naming system [is] rather confusing and unspecific; this more precise numbering system is far more rigorous,” said Edward Holmes, a flu genomicist. See (Nature 2008 Apr 23; doi: 10.1038/452923a)

N - Editorial boards lack women

Women made up only a fifth (21%) of the editorial boards in 2005, although they were far worse represented in 1970, with just 1% of positions, a 35 year study of 16 prominent biomedical journals has shown (Arch Intern Med 2008;168:547-8). Seven per cent of the journals' chief editors have been women, but having a female editor made no significant difference to the sex distribution of the board. Women were better represented in specialty clinical journals, such as the Pediatrics, and general medical journals, such as the BMJ, than in biomedical science journals, such as Cell. In an accompanying editorial (p 446) Nanette Wenger calls for journals to “explore their ranks for gender diversity.”

N - Spanish portal opens access

A national portal for Spanish open access scientific publications, Recolecta (, has been launched. The project is a collaboration between the Spanish network of libraries REBIUN and the Spanish Foundation for Science and Technology (FECYT) to provide a national search service for open access publishing in science. Recolecta seeks to stimulate open access publishing in Spain; to coordinate the creation of a national infrastructure of institutional repositories; and to serve as a central point of information on all topics related to open access. The search engine will find open access documents in journals, institutional repositories, and disciplinary repositories. (
Thanks to Emma Campbell

N - Publishers confirm authors' rights

Advocating authors to add copyright postscripts to journal publishing agreements is a call for needless bureaucracy, said the International Association of Scientific, Technical, and Medical Publishers in March. The publishers’ group has issued a statement, which, it says, clarifies authors’ rights: “Standard journal agreements typically allow authors to use their published paper . . . for educational purposes . . . and to post some version of the paper on a preprint server, their institutional repository, or a personal website.” Michael Mabe, head of the association, said, “Policy debate should be . . . based on evidence and consultation.” ( and
Thanks to Joan Marsh