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