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.” (