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 www.who.int/csr/disease/avian_influenza/guidelines/nomenclature/en (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 (www.recolecta.net), 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. (www.knowledgespeak.com/forward.asp?newsID=5918)
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.” (www.stm-assoc.org/documents-statements-public-co/2008.3%20STM-PSP-ALPSP%20Statement%20Publishing%20Agreements%2020080310.pdf and www.stm-assoc.org/press-releases/STM%20Press%20Release%20Journal%20Publishing%20Agreements.pdf)
Thanks to Joan Marsh

N - Web ability declines with age

People’s ability to use websites declines between the ages of 35 and 60 by 0.8% a year, says the web usability specialist Jakob Nielsen. This is because they spend more time per page, and they visit more pages to find what they are looking for. This age group represents half of the population of the United States, has the best jobs, and spends the most money online. Nielsen advises to “test participants across the entire age range you’re targeting” and not to “believe everything your 25 year old web designers tell you about what’s easy.” (www.useit.com/alertbox/middle-aged-users.html)

N - Students plagiarise plagiarism code

Students at the University of Texas at San Antonio drafted a code to discourage plagiarism, but they took sections from Brigham Young University’s plagiarism code, which they found online, a Nature blog reports. They even copied the definition of plagiarism. Both codes say, “Inadvertent plagiarism involves the inappropriate, but non-deliberate, use of another’s words, ideas, or data without appropriate attribution.” The student in charge of the project said that the lack of credit was an oversight. The entire Nature blog entry was copied from other (referenced) sources. (http://blogs.nature.com/news/thegreatbeyond/2008/04/schools_plagiarism_code_plagia.html)

N - Blog till you drop

Two fatal heart attacks in the United States may have been a result of stress caused by excessive blogging, an article in the New York Times suggests. Other bloggers complain of weight loss or gain, sleep disorders, and mental health problems. Bloggers are “toiling under great physical and emotional stress created by the around-the-clock internet economy that demands a steady stream of news and comment,” the article says. In some sectors blogging is highly competitive. Financial rewards are often low and based on the number of posts written or the hits an entry gets. Some journalists have been fired for not meeting hits targets. (www.nytimes.com/2008/04/06/technology/06sweat.html and http://blogs.guardian.co.uk/news/2008/04/is_writing_this_blog_killing_m.html)
Giustini D. Web 3.0 and medicine. BMJ 2007;335:1273-1274
doi: 10.1136/bmj.39428.494236.BE

Medical librarians believe that it is necessary to build better mechanisms for information retrieval, due to the current bulk of unorganised information "searchable" but not easely "findable" in web 2.0. That is why we need web 3.0, the new web, called the semanticweb. Information retrieval in web 3.0 should be based less on keywords than on intelligent ontological frameworks, such as Medline’s trusted MeSH vocabulary, or some other tool. Web 3.0 should help find information more effectively and cut through the information glut, creating also, through semantic technologies, new knowledge. It should hopefully bring order to the 21st century web in the same way that Dr John Shaw Billings’s Index Medicus brought order to medical research back in the 19th century.


N - Email damages productivity

The three billion emails sent a day in the United Kingdom are “leaving us tired, frustrated and unproductive.” A third of office workers suffer “email stress. ” And dealing with pointless messages may cost UK business £39m a year. These are the conclusions of a BBC2 Money Programme in March called “Email is ruining my life!” Some firms are trialing email-free days and hiring consultants to solve the problem. To reduce the burden, get a good spam filter, choose your email's recipients carefully, write more clearly, and reduce automatic interruptions from email software, experts suggest. (http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/business/7281707.stm and see "Email time bandits" www.dailymail.co.uk/pages/live/articles/news/news.html?in_article_id=560166&in_page_id=1770

N - Le bloc replaces the blog

The English words “blog,” “email,” and “podcast” have been banned by French government, to be replaced by the more French sounding “bloc,” “courriel,” and “diffusion pour baladeur.” The French ministry of culture is worried about the anglicisation of the French language and has listed French replacements for 500 English words that are commonly used in France. Football commentators have been asked to use “entraineur” and “coup de pied de coin” instead of “coach” and “corner.” A spokesman said, “French is a living language rich enough to speak for itself without the need for hundreds of English expressions.” (www.mirror.co.uk/news/topstories/2008/03/12/french-ban-the-words-email-blog-and-post-box-89520-20348325 and http://my.telegraph.co.uk/maggie_millington/march_2008/french_ban_on_english_words_.htm)

N - Peer reviews stay private

The New England Journal of Medicine has been told by a federal magistrate that it does not have to hand over peer reviews to the drug company Pfizer. The company recently issued subpoenas to try to force journals to disclose confidential peer reviews and other materials relating to studies of its painkillers Celebrex (celecoxib) and Bextra (valdecoxib), which are the subject of lawsuits. Three weeks ago an Illinois judge ruled against Pfizer after it issued almost identical subpoenas to JAMA and the Archives of Internal Medicine. (Nature 2008;452:677; doi: 10.1038/452677d)

N - Save the semicolon?

France is debating the future of the semicolon, according to a Guardian blog. The “point virgule,” the writer Fran├žois Cavanna is reported as saying, is “a parasite, a timid, fainthearted, insipid thing, denoting merely uncertainty, a lack of audacity, a fuzziness of thought.” But defendants cite Hugo, Flaubert, and Voltaire as writers for whom the mark was essential. Writers such as George Orwell, Lynne Truss, and Will Self give their views. Meanwhile, in New York the sign “Please put it in a trash can, that’s good news for everyone” has been revised to include a semicolon, but the Financial Times reports that "Americans see the semicolon as punctuation’s axis of evil." (www.guardian.co.uk/world/2008/apr/04/france.britishidentity and http://normblog.typepad.com/normblog/2008/03/the-semicolon-a.html and www.ft.com/cms/s/0/0ca549d2-25a9-11da-a4a7-00000e2511c8.html)
Thanks to Margaret Cooter

N - Vigilante copy edits America

An illustrated blog (www.jeffdeck.com/teal/blog) has been started to document errors in public signage and their correction by the Typo Eradication Advancement League, in a three month trip across the United States, reports Andrew Mueller in the Guardian. Armed with marker pens and correction fluid, Jeff Deck aims to correct as many typos in signs, posters, and restaurant menus as he can. Deck, a former editor for an academic publishing house in Washington, DC, said “I had internalised the Chicago Manual of Style . . . and thought it would be a good thing to go around raising awareness.” (Guardian 2008 Apr 14; http://commentisfree.guardian.co.uk/andrew_mueller/2008/04/linguistic_pedants_of_the_world_unite.htm)

N - Enough conflicts of interest?

In March the BMJ asked whether the hunt for authors’ conflicts of interests had gone too far. Thomas Stossel argued that restrictions on academics’ interaction with commercial companies damages research because they exclude qualified experts from writing in some journals. They also limit financial rewards that professionals can receive from private companies or even ban corporate consulting, he said. Kirby Lee, however, believes that competing interests “require management to prevent potential bias, or the perception of bias, in medical decision making or research.” Of 443 voters in an online poll 45% agreed that the hunt had gone too far. (BMJ 2008;336:476-7 doi: 10.1136/bmj.39493.489213.AD and doi: 10.1136/bmj.39491.391215.94)

Thursday, April 24, 2008

B - Developments of Informetrics (2000-2006)

Bar-Ilan J. Informetrics at the beginning of the 21st century—A review. Journal of Informetrics 2008;2(1):1-52

This is a very interesting review covering several issues concerning Informetrics, Bibliometrics, Scientometrics and Webometrics, at the beginning of the 21st century. The reader can find, here described, the most important novelties in these disciplines such as the developments of Open Access, the growth in webometrics, the comparison between two new citation databases (Scopus and Google Scholar), the use of new indicators (h-index) in science evaluation, ecc. Furthermore, traditional topics are also reported, i.e. history of bibliometrics, citation analysis, impact factor debate, University rankings and so on.


Friday, April 18, 2008

B - Guest Authorship and Ghostwriting

Ross J S, Hill K P, Egilman D S, Krumholz H M. Guest Authorship and Ghostwriting in Publications Related to Rofecoxib: A Case Study of Industry Documents From Rofecoxib Litigation. JAMA 2008;299(15):1800-1812

The article starts from the recent litigation related to rofecoxib, to examine guest authorship and ghostwriting, both practices that have been suspected in biomedical publication but for which there is little documentation. The objective was to determine the different types and the extent of guest authorship and ghostwriting in a case study. Using court documents and articles related to the topic, the authors demonstrated that clinical trial manuscripts related to rofecoxib were authored by sponsor employees but often attributed first authorship to academically affiliated investigators who did not always disclose industry financial support, and that review manuscripts were prepared by unacknowledged authors and subsequently attributed authorship to academically affiliated investigators who often did not disclose industry financial support.


Thursday, April 17, 2008

B - Impugning the Integrity of Medical Science

DeAngelis CD, Fontanarosa PB. Impugning the integrity of medical science: the adverse effects of industry influence. JAMA 2008;299(15):1833-1835.

This Editorial illustrates studies documenting the manipulation of study results, authors, editors, and reviewers by pharmaceutical and medical device industries. It states also that if this manipulation has occurred it is because physicians have allowed it to happen, and it is time to stop it. Journal editors also bear some of the responsibility for enabling companies to manipulate publications. That is why drastic action is essential, and cooperation of everyone involved in medical research, medical editing, medical education, and clinical practice is required for meaningful change to occur.


B - Editors and Copy Editors in Fiction: Taking a Carpet-Sweeper to the Jungle

Bell H K. Editors and Copy Editors in Fiction: Taking a Carpet-Sweeper to the Jungle. Journal of Scholarly Publishing 2008;39(2):156-167
doi: 10.3138/jsp.39.2.156

In this article, the author examines the various types of editors and copy editors presented in fiction: the conscientious, the compulsive, the stereotypical, the Cinderellas, the ruthless, the arrogant, and the power-abusers.


B - Different Kind of Profession

Luey B. Different Kind of Profession: The Council of Editors of Learned Journals (CELJ) Keynote Address MLA Convention 2006. Journal of Scholarly Publishing 2008;39(2):94-108
doi: 10.3138/jsp.39.2.93

This article, which started as the keynote address at the 2006 meeting of the Council of Editors of Learned Journals, discusses the ways professions are or are not appropriate to journal editing, and some possibilities for increasing professionalism. One of the starting questions is if journal editing is a profession, and the answer proposed is that it should not be. It should rather be a profession open to innovation and talent and transparent to those who interact with it as authors, subscribers, and readers.


Wednesday, April 16, 2008

B - Research Library Publishing Services: New Options for University Publishing

Hahn C. Research Library Publishing Services: New Options for University Publishing. ARL, March 2008

This study is based on a survey carried out in 2007 by the Association of Research Libraries to gather data on the publishing services they were providing. The results showed that research libraries are rapidly developing publishing services(44% reported they were delivering publishing services). Libraries publish many kinds of works, even if the main focus is journals (88% of publishing libraries reported publishing journals). Peer reviewed works dominate library publishing programs. Libraries are increasingly incline to provide at least basic hosting services (open source software). Advice and consulting regarding a variety of publishing practices and decisions are perhaps even more popular services.


B - No to Negative Data

Wiley S. No to Negative Data. Why I believe findings that disprove a hypothesis are largely not worth publishing. The Scientist 2008;22(4):39

The article discusses the recent disinclination of scientific journals towards publishing negative data. The problem with negative results is that they are seen as not actually advancing science. Being science based on a set of ideas supported by observations, a negative result is considered as not supporting any specific idea. Certainly it has to be considered that even some of the positive data published are wrong, and they eventually suffer the fate of all scientific errors, that is to be abandoned. The solution to that bias is seen in treating published results more skeptically.


Friday, April 11, 2008

Fighting plagaiarism and IPR violation

Kulathuramaiyer N, Maurer H. Fighting plagaiarism and IPR violation: why is it so important? Learned Publishing 2007;20:252-258. (doi: 10.1087/095315107X239618)

The revolutionary development of the web presents numerous opportunities for plagiarism and infringements of intellectual property rights (IPR) to become even more widespread. This situation creats the risk of introducing a "culture of mediocrity". Tools to detect plagiarism are available.

Posted for Margaret Cooter

Monday, April 07, 2008

B - Peer review gets the thumbs up

Banks, Michael. 2008 Peer review gets the thumbs up. Physics World 21(3)8.

Review of a new survey of 3000 academics around the world in the sciences and arts commissioned by the Public Research Consortium. 93% of the respondents agreed peer review is necessary. Other questions involved 'single-blind' and 'double-blind' reviewing and whether reviewers should be paid. Mark Ware, the independent consultant who carried out the survey says "We hope editors will at least look into the possibility of double-blind peer reviewi, as bias is certainly present when knowing the author's identity in single-blind review".


Posted for John Glen

B - Save your notes, drafts and printouts: today’s work is tomorrow’s history

Brenner S, Roberts RJ. Save your notes, drafts and printouts: today’s work is tomorrow’s history [Letter]. Nature 2007;446:725.

The increasing of our knowledge in science is making it imperative that we document the history of all discoveries in this field. Historians need all forms of data so as to document the development of today's innovations and inspire future generations. Fortunately, interest is growing among historians of science and institutional archives in preserving this history. Several institution in the United States are establishing archival collections related to the history of molecular biology and chemistry. The purpose is to encourage all researchers to preserve their papers and donate them to institutions that are committed to making them freely accessible to scholars.


Tuesday, April 01, 2008

B – The Nautilus: where – and how – OA will actually work

Esposito JJ. The Nautilus: where – and how – OA will actually work. The Scientist 2007; 21(11):52.

This article discusses the new phase of the debate over open access to the scientific literature, listing all pros and cons of OA within the landscape of scientific publishers. It presents scholarly communications as a Nautilus' spiral, with the inner spiral representing the researcher's intimate colleagues, next spirals scientists in general, highly educated individuals, universities, policy-makers, on to the outer spirals, that represent the consumer media, whose task is to inform the general public. It concludes identifying a fundamental tension in scholarly communications today, between the innermost spiral of the nautilus, where peers communicate directly with peers, and the outer spirals. In this landscape OA advocates sit at the center and attempt to take their model beyond the peers and at the outer spirals, traditional publishers attempts to extend their reach into the inner spirals.