Wednesday, December 23, 2009

B - "Down's syndrome" or "Down syndrome"?

Jana N, Barik S, Arora N. Current use of medical eponyms--a need for global uniformity in scientific publications. BMC Med Res Methodol 2009;9:18.

Eponym indicates the name of a person after whom something, such as a discovery, is named. Eponyms are widely used in medicine, i.e. Alzheimer disease, Williams syndrome or Australia antigen. Nonetheless there are no standardized guidelines to assure uniformity. Is it more exact to write Down syndrome, Down’s syndrome or to identify the disease with its descriptive name (trisomy 21)? Can we use indifferently “Susac syndrome” and “retinocochleocerebral vasculopathy”. An uniform use of nomenclature of a clinical disorder not only important for stylistic reasons, but even essential for its correct classification in biomedical databases. Taking “Down syndrome” and “Down's syndrome” as an example, the article assess the current use of medical eponyms, underlines the importance of uniformity and suggests the use of the nonpossessive form versus the possessive one.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

B - Personal knowledge management The role of Web 2.0 tools for managing knowledge at individual and organisational levels

Razmerita L., Kirchner K., Sudzina F. Personal knowledge management The role of Web 2.0 tools for managing knowledge at individual and organisational levels.
Online Information Review 2009;33(6):1021-1039.
Knowledge Management differs from Personal Knowledge Management. PKM is the individual knowledge that socialize itself through social interaction or better still through the Social Web or otherwise called Web.2. Web.2. represents a step ahead from the previous web users’ approach, that was static and offered no chance of interaction. Social networking (MySpace and Facebook, Blogs, microblogs like Twitter, instant messaging like Sype etc.) and tools like Wikypedia, all enhance personal and collective knowledge and communication, where knowledge as the author suggests, is not crystallized by those tools rather is exchanged and also creates new knowledge. The study concentrate on PKM as a domain of knowledge management compared with Social Web.2 as a personal/individual dimension. A number of articles (first from the Web Science then the ACM digital library and finally from Google Scholars) were chosen for the relevant topic (PKM) between January and March 2008 and revised in March 2009. Managing personal knowledge is essential for highly skilled workers in order to complete a task or to compete within an organization and the author makes reference to different definitions of knowledge and citations from the chosen articles that address potential improvement on the subject. In addition, figures, tables and classifications are provided to better show the relevance of such phenomenon - that is “forcing companies to expand their knowledge management concepts and agendas”. An example of such influence is IBM where employees with general and technical expertise are welcomed to share knowledge between colleagues at intranet level as well as contribute to Wikis. The final part of the paper illustrates the pro and cons, address the possible improvement (KM 3.0 and PKM 3. , semantic blogs, semantic wikis, semantic social Networks, semantic-enhanced user support) of this revolutionary “set of tools and systems”.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

A slippery slope

Editorial. A slippery slope. Nature 2009; 462(7274):699

After what appears to be an "arbitrary and ad hoc" decision to cancel a funding committee-approved, animal-use committee-approved study using baboons to test an anthrax vaccine by Oklahoma State University president Burns Hargis, the influence of the university's wealthy donors on research decisions is questioned.

A question of integrity

Editorial. A question of integrity. Nature 2009; 462(7274):699

This editorial highlights allegations of plagiarism against the authors of research papers in which members of the Iranian government were co-authors. The possible causes of this are speculated upon, one being the strong cultural expectation that officials have a strong academic background. Importantly it is noted that, "The actions of a few must not be allowed to soil the reputation of the majority of Iran’s scientists."

Monday, December 07, 2009

B - Systematic Differences in Impact across Publication Tracks at PNAS

Rand DG, Pfeiffer T, Systematic Differences in Impact across Publication Tracks at PNAS. PLoS ONE 2009; 4(12): e8092.


Citation data can be used to evaluate the editorial policies and procedures of scientific journals. This analysis in PNAS explores the consequences of differences in editor and referee selection, and demonstrates that different editorial procedures are associated with different levels of impact, even within the same prominent journal. It raises interesting questions about the most appropriate metrics for judging an editorial policy's success.

Thursday, December 03, 2009

B - Taking Care of Digital Collections and Data

Angevaare I. Taking Care of Digital Collections and Data: ‘Curation’ and Organisational Choices for Research Libraries. Liber Quarterly. 2009(19)1
This article is a useful introduction to digital curation and preservation. It explores the types of digital information research libraries typically deal with and what factors might influence libraries’ decisions to take on the work of data curation themselves,or to leave the responsibility to other organisations. It is interesting for editors who might be unaware of the complexities of the issues at stake.

Monday, November 30, 2009

B - Global Citation Patterns of Open Access Communication Studies Journals:Pushing Beyond the Social Science Citation Index

Poor N. D. Pushing Beyond the Social Science Citation Index.
International Journal of Communication 2009; (3):853-879.

A study carried out using the statistical technique of factor analysis, principal component analysis and clustering, that examines “2,776 citations from 305 articles …. collected from a multinational sample of 17 open access communication journals … published over three years” (articles were gathered from 2006, 2007, and 2008). The question of connectivity and citations between open access journals and mainstream open access journals as measure of “the state of health of a discipline”, lack of citation of foreign publications due to the domination of American authors and of the English language on the overall spectrum of scientific publications together with a criticisms regarding the insufficient inclusion of foreign languages works by the ISI. In addition, subject themes of publications and their relation with data skew, revealing convergence and divergence within a field through citation analysis and more specific issues are dealt with in this paper. As the author states: “If we wish to study global linkages between communication studies journals, we must push beyond the Social Science Citation Index”.

B - Uniform format for disclosure of competing interests in ICMJE journals

Uniform format for disclosure of competing interests in ICMJE journals
The Lancet; 2009 374(9699):1395-1396


Disclosure of conflict of interest by authors of articles published in biomedical journals has become common practice. This helps the reader to understand the relationships between the authors and various commercial entities that may have an interest in the information reported in the published article. Many journals ask authors to provide a disclosure of conflict in different formats. The International Committee of Medical Journal Editors (ICMJE), therefore, as recently provided a new disclosure form that has been adopted by all journals that are members of the ICMJE. Through this editorial, also published in other journals (JAMA. BMJ, NEJM, etc), editors are encouraged to adopt this uniform reporting format, that is available in the public domain

Saturday, November 28, 2009

B - Should we use the mean citations per paper to summarise a journal’s impact?

Calver MC,Bradley JS. Should we use the mean citations per paper to summarise a journal’s impact or to rank journals in the same field? Scientometrics. 2009(81)3: 611-615
DOI: 10.1007/s11192-008-2229-y

As criticism of the Journal Impact Factor as a standard for ranking journals
increases, other measures including the mean citations per paper have been proposed
or used. Mean citations per paper can be calculated easily from data in many data bases, removing dependence from the limited list of journals covered in Thomson Reuters’ ISI Web of Science and Journal Citation Reports.The Authors of this paper, however, suggest that it has limitations given the highly skewed distributions of citations per paper in a wide range of journals.

B - How Many Scientists Fabricate and Falsify Research?

Fanelli D. How Many Scientists Fabricate and Falsify Research? A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Survey Data. PLoS ONE. 2009; 4(5): e5738.

The frequency with which scientists fabricate and falsify data, or commit other forms of scientific misconduct is a matter of controversy. This systematic review considered several surveys asking scientists about misconduct; the differences in their results are largely due to differences in methods. Only by controlling for these latter can the effects of country, discipline, and other demographic characteristics be studied in detail. Conclusions point out that there are many sociological factors associated with scientific misconductthere surveys should adopt standard methodologies to be usefully compared. According to the Author, it is likely that, if on average 2% of scientists admit to have falsified research at least once and up to 34% admit other questionable research practices, the actual frequencies of misconduct could be higher than this.

Friday, November 27, 2009

B - Methods to increase response to postal and electronic questionnaires

Edwards PJ, Roberts I, Clarke MJ, DiGuiseppi C, Wentz R, Kwan I, Cooper R, Felix LM, Pratap S. Methods to increase response to postal and electronic questionnaires. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2009, Issue 3. Art. No.: MR000008.

DOI: 10.1002/14651858.MR000008.pub4.

Postal and electronic questionnaires are widely used for data collection in epidemiological studies but non-response reduces the effective sample size and can introduce bias. This systematic review investigates the ways to increase response to postal and electronic questionnaires: people can be contacted before they are sent a postal questionnaire. Postal questionnaires can be sent by first class post or recorded delivery, and a stamped-return envelope can be provided. Questionnaires, letters and e-mails can be made more personal, and preferably kept short. Incentives can be offered, for example, a small amount of money with a postal questionnaire. One or more reminders can be sent with a copy of the questionnaire to people who do not reply.

B - Publishing non-research papers as a trainee

George S, Moreira K.Publishing non-research papers as a trainee: a recipe for beginners.Singapore Med J. 2009;50(8):756-8.

This paper provides some practical tips to trainee doctors, who are novice researchers and who have few or no published papers, on how to publish (not how to write) non-research papers. The Authors are aware that their tips may not be relevant to all trainees aspiring to publish, but hope that some of these will be useful to most trainees.Nobody (or very few) takes off on his publishing career
with a publication in the BMJ, it is advisable to start with lower IF journals,
master the art and science of writing and publishing, and then set your goals higher.

B - Prevalence of ghostwriting spurs calls for transparency

Collier R.Prevalence of ghostwriting spurs calls for transparency
Canadian Medical Association Journal. 2009;13; 181(8): E161–E162.

doi: 10.1503/cmaj.109-3036

It’s no secret that the names at the top of articles published in medical journals aren’t always a good indication of who actually wrote them. What may be surprising is how prevalent ghost-writing appears to have become. Between 50% and 100% of articles on drugs that appear in journals are said to be ghostwritten,and the effect of ghostwriting on the quality of medical publishing is difficult to assess.

B - Requirements and definitions in conflict of interest policies of medical journals.

Blum JA, Freeman K, Dart RC, Cooper RJ.Requirements and definitions in conflict of interest policies of medical journals.JAMA 2009;25;302(20):2230-4.

Conflicts of interest (COI)may influence medical literature. However, it is still unclear whether medical journals have consistent policies for defining and soliciting COI disclosures. This study aims to determine the prevalence of author COI policies, requirements for signed disclosure statements, and variability in COI definitions among medical journals. Results show that of 256 journals, 89% had author COI policies, 54% percent required authors to sign a disclosure statement, and 77% provided definitions of COI. Conclusions show that in 2008, most medical journals with relatively high impact factors had author COI policies available for public review. Among journals, there was substantial variation in policies for solicitation of author COIs and in definitions of COI.

B - The gender imbalance in academic medicine: a study of female authorship in the United Kingdom

Sidhu R, Rajashekhar P, Lavin VL, Parry J, Attwood J, Holdcroft A, Sanders DS.
The gender imbalance in academic medicine: a study of female authorship in the United Kingdom J R Soc Med. 2009,102(8):337-42

Career progression depends on measures of esteem, including publication publication in prestigious journals.A shortfall exists of female doctors in senior academic posts in the United Kingdom. This study investigates gender differences in first and senior authorship in six peer-reviewed British journals (including BMJ and Lancet) in the years for 1970, 1980, 1990, 2000 and 2004 and analyses factors that are associated with publication rates. There is an general increase in UK female first authors since 1970. In contrast, there is considerable lag and in some specialties a decline in female senior authors. Factors that could narrow the gender gap in authorship should be sought and addressed.

B - Liberating the voices of science

Carr K, Liberating the voices of science. The Australian, January 16, 2008.,25197,23057489-25192,00.html

The Australians' view on the role of scientists and researchers to contribute to economic, social and environmental wellbeing and to expand our horizons of knowledge. It involves controversial interpretations.
Public debate must be as well informed as possible and those who have expertise in the areas under debate must be able to contribute. According to the Author, this means that researchers working in Australian universities and public research agencies must be - and must be allowed to be - active participants in such debates, therefore, it is essential to communicate new ideas and to infuse public debate with the best research and new knowledge.

B - Scholarly communication

Morrison H. Scholarly Communication for Librarians. Cambridge: Woodhead Publishing Limited

This book covers the current landscape of scholarly communications and publishing and potential futures, outlining key aspects of transition to best possible futures for libraries and librarians. It explains complex concepts in a clear, concise manner - designed to quickly bring the reader up to speed on scholarly communications - written by a well-known international expert on scholarly communications and open access.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

B - Open science at web-scale: Optimising participation and predictive potential

Lyon, L. Open science at web-scale: Optimising participation and predictive potential.
Open-science-report 2009;V1.0.

An in-depth report on Data Intensive Open science and its implications. A host of questions (aided with some pictorial examples) related to the impact, development, future and potentials of participating science on research and research practices, communities, higher education institutes and funding organizations. Raising awareness of “institutional senior management teams of the strategic implication of this potentially transformational agenda”, costs and skills required to implement it; a wide range of evaluations and questions/proposals.

B - How to Publish a Scientific Comment in 1 2 3 Easy Steps

Trebino R. How to Publish a Scientific Comment in 1 2 3 Easy Steps
Physics World 2009;22(11):56.

The history of an ultimately unsuccessful attempt by Trebino to comment on a paper which "proved" that his life's work was wrong! Caught between a limit of 1 page and reviewers' insistence on more detail, and finally the reviewers' rejection of the author's official reply. For the full (true!) story see
Thanks to John Glen

Monday, November 02, 2009

B - Can the highly cited psychiatric paper be predicted early?

Hyett M, Parker G. Can the highly cited psychiatric paper be predicted early?

Australian and New Zealand Journal of Psichiatry 2009;(43):173-176.

Normally, the importance of a scientific contribution is seen by citation frequency over time and time is the key factor for most of psychiatric researchers. A presentation of paper from preparation to publication is a lengthy process as well as recognition by the scientific community. Can citation perspectives of an article published after two years be predicted 3 weeks after publication (* Lokker C, McKibbon KA, McKinlay RJ, Wilczynshi NL, Haynes RB. “Prediction of citation counts for clinical articles at 2 years using data available within three weeks of publication: retrospective cohort study” BMJ 2008;(336): 655-657) as reported in a recent study by BMJ? The authors sampled 1274 articles from 105 top medicine journals on the basis of 20 potential predictors applying a multiple regression analysis over a longer review period. The conclusions are not consistent with the BMJ report and the authors also indicate that the inclusion of lower impact journals would give a better understanding in predicting future citation success.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

B - Common Weaknesses in Traditional Abstracts in the Social Sciences

Hartley J, Betts L. Common Weaknesses in Traditional Abstracts in the Social Sciences

Journal of the American Society for information science and technology 2009;60(10):2010-2018.

An article by James Hartley on traditional abstracts “versus” structured abstracts. 100 traditional abstracts were downloaded from 53 journals in social science and evaluated. This study examines the lack of information and accuracy contained in the more tradional format way of writing abstracts. The author makes also reference to other studies of abstracts on the base of their presentation, readability, density of information, briefness and completeness of information at the same time. The method followed here specifically highlights the general inaccuracy of traditional abstracts presented in a “single-block” format compared (but not in depth) with the more recent “structured abstracts” (way of writing scientific articles). A straightforward “Yes” and “No” checklist, hierarchically presented in terms of Background, Aims, Method, Participants (sex and age), Place (country of study), Results and Conclusions was used. Following the above checklist - the overall traditional abstracts examined were found to be poor in content and sometimes also lacking of useful if not crucial information – the conclusions suggest that switching from a traditional abstracts format to a more accurate way of writing scientific articles (in a structured format) and furthermore, releasing the word constrain imposed by editors, can improve the quality as well as the chances to be cited in the future.

Thanks to Hartley J.

Monday, October 19, 2009

B - The Psychology of Referencing in Psychology Journal Articles

Safer MA, Tang R, The Psychology of Referencing in Psychology Journal Articles

Perspective on Psychological Science 2009;4(1):51-53

How important is citation in research papers? Forty nine psychology empirical articles randomly selected were submitted for ratings to their authors (psycyhologists) with regards to the importance of references in their own work. A scale of 1 (slightly important) to 7 (absolutely important) was used. Location of references (“method”, “results”, “discussion section”), citation frequencies, citation length, reasons for citations and depth were also examined. In addition, the weight of personal citation compared to citation of works of others, citation for credibility, appearance rather than substance, self-citations in relation to location and frequency were also taken into account. The study suggests that a more complete evaluation of citation metadata (frequency, location, treatment, etc;) as opposed to a mere statistic citation of references would give more information to the user in view of the fact that citation itself has a relevance within the construct of a scientific paper.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

B - "Strategic Reading, Ontologies, and the Future of Scientific Publishing"

Since its first "unseccessful step" - the launch of the “Online Journal of Current Clinical Trials” in1992 - information gathering have become, in the past decade, more and more sophisticated. The turning point of such progress is clear when more than ten years later, technical, medical and scientific journals had nearly them all their online version. Nowadays, new softwares with a more structured, fast and detailed research of data on the web have become an essential tool and aid for researchers and scientific publishing. Scientific articles becomes not just a mere electronic representation of text: thanks to a “strategic reading” scientists can work simultaneously with many articles without the need of reading them individually (dramatically changing the reading practices among scientists). This is possible thanks to ontologies, which the author describe as “structured terminology for representing scientific data” ... “speaking a language that can also be understood by computers”.
Thanks to Ernesto Costabile

Thursday, October 15, 2009

B - Does analysis using "last observation carried forward" introduce bias in dementia research?

Does analysis using "last observation carried forward"introduce bias in dementia research?

CMAJ • October 2008;179 (8). doi:10.1503/cmaj.080820.

A very critical standpoint on a widely used analytical technique in dementia research drug trials, called " last observation carried forward". Patients affected by dementia who are on drug trials are followed over a period of time. When there is a drop-out from the evaluation trial, the so called "last observation carried forward" (statistical technique) is applied; taking into account the last result of the observation period (which eliminates the actual state of the patient's progress or decline after the interruption of the evaluation test) creating, therefore, an artificial analytical result. When the trial stops, the data obtained is, so to say, "outstretched" to obtain what in the end is a fake outcome of a drug trial that should be intended to realistically measure the ongoing test to its completion and for its eventual benefits to such patients.

Monday, October 12, 2009

N - Opening up scholarly research

A wiki allowing academics to summarise and discuss published papers has launched in October 2009. AcaWiki makes use of semantic web technology to allow organisation and sharing of summaries, as well as user profiles, comments, discussion, tagging and RSS feeds. Users can summarise their own or others' research or literature reviews. Inspired partly by the open-access movement, this nonprofit site aims to improve accessibility of academic research using interactive media. See

Friday, October 09, 2009

N - JAMA revises without correction

An editorial in JAMA published online by its editors that outlined the journal’s revised policy on investigating conflicts of interest was replaced by a milder version, without an erratum or notice of retraction, reports Udo Schuklenk on his ethics blog ( The editorial was also changed in all biomedical databases. This follows heavy criticism of the way JAMA dealt with a complaint from Jonathan Leo about the journal’s handling of undisclosed competing interests in a paper. The original editorial had the DOI 10.1001/jama.2009.480; the revision has the citation 2009;302:198-9, See

Thursday, October 08, 2009

N - Iranian minister's articles retracted

Three journals will retract papers coauthored by Iran’s science and education minister, Kamran Daneshjou, Nature reports (2009;461:578-9, doi:10.1038/461578a). Nature found that substantial text of a paper in Engineering with Computers (2009;25:191-206, doi:10.1007/s00366-008-0118-x) were identical to a paper by South Korean scientists in the Journal of Physics D (2002;35:2676-86, doi:10.1088/0022-3727/35/20/331). Papers by the same coauthors in the Journal of Mechanical Science and Technology, the Taiwanese Journal of Mechanics, and the Mechanical & Aerospace Engineering Journal contain duplication. The coauthor Majid Shahravi is reported to have refuted the charge of plagiarism ( and

N - Green frog for Nobel laureates

Since 1976, winners of Nobel prizes in physics and chemistry have been inducted into the Order of the Ever Smiling and Jumping Little Green Frog on 13 December. In the hall for the festivities (food, drink, and singing Swedish songs) is a two metre tall paper mâché frog. The laureates are awarded a small metal green frog to wear around their neck. At the end of the night the party get on the tables to hop like frogs, before carrying the mascot through the streets. Students started the tradition in 1917. The Swedish word for "frog" also means "blunder." (
Thanks to Margaret Cooter

Saturday, October 03, 2009

B - Globalizing Science Publishing

Wieland G. Globalizing Science Publishing (Editorial). Science 2009;325 (21):920

DOI: 10.1126/science.1178378

Publishing in scientific journals is the most common and powerful means to disseminate new research findings. But, visibility and credibility require publishing in journals that are included in global indexing databases such as those of the Institute for Scientific Information (ISI). The central question of this editorial is of how to expand the global reach and the potential impact of scientific research of developing countries since most scientists in developing countries remain at the periphery of this critical communication process, exacerbating the low international recognition and impact of their accomplishments.

Friday, October 02, 2009

N - viXra takes on arXiv is an open repository that will post all papers "regardless of quality, quantity, or sanity," Physics World reports., the popular physics preprint server, screens submissions "to ensure that all the uploaded preprints are of at least 'refereeable' quality," and authors must have approval of a recognised endorser, and unamed moderators check for quality. arXiv has been accused of bias in its selection processes. viXra says that it is "a parody of to highlight Cornell University's unacceptable censorship policy" as well as a serious and permanent archive for all scientific work. See

N - Paradigm shift for clichés

"Holy grail" is "the mother of all bad science clichés, the worst offender," according to, which reports that Nature has banned the phrase. These cliché police found 2.6 million Google hits for the overused phrase in articles related to disciplines such as physics, climate change, cancer research, and plant biology. They also abhor the use of "silver bullet"—and "magic bullets" as well. "Shedding light" is also high on their hit list, as is "missing link." And last but not least is “paradigm shift," which Google finds 1.9 million times. What can we add to this list? See

N - Nature v science in cartoon

The site PhD Comics has two strips devoted to the rivalry between the top science journals Science and Nature. The first compares the journals, joking at the way journals express impact factors to multiple decimal places ( The second is a cynical take on the financial aspects of publishing at the pinnacle (

Thursday, October 01, 2009

N - Live peer review by blog

An organic chemist commented "WTF is going on here?" on an unrelated post in the blog Totally Synthetic, after seeing a paper in a respected chemistry journal that didn’t make sense ( The paper, in the Journal of the American Chemical Society, claimed that the strong reductant sodium hydride could act as an oxidant in converting an alcohol to a ketone (2009 Jul 21, doi:10.1021/ja904224y). Less than a day later several chemists replicated the experiment live on the blog, showing that the chemistry was right but that the paper’s authors had probably made a mistake in their mechanism ( See

N - Journals should police citations

Journals should require corresponding authors to formally acknowledge that they take responsibility for the completeness, accuracy, and interpretation of a manuscript’s references, a BMJ editorial argues (2009;339:b2049). Inappropriate citation in articles can be replicated, leading to "bias, amplification, and invention," disrupting scientific progress. A linked study gives examples of serious consequences of bad citations (2009;339:b2680). In medical research the result can be harm to patients. When writing a paper, researchers should go back to primary studies cited to ensure any later interpretation is valid, and primary data to support claims should be included in every paper.

N - BMJ reforms research publishing

From January 2010 the BMJ will publish all original research articles first online, with no word limit and open access to the full text. The print journal will contain only abridged, single page abstracts of about 550 words, called “BMJ pico,” which are supplied by authors according to templates provided for each study design ( For randomised controlled trials, the template includes prompts for study question, summary answer, design, outcome, main results, bias and confounding, and potential competing interests. In a pilot survey of readers, 66% said that reading BMJ picos encouraged them to read the full versions on (

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

N - Headline is a bum job

The subeditors on the Daily Express newspaper must have cringed when they saw that a headline on a two page feature in one edition read "Can Dec anally match Ant?" the Guardian reports ( The slip occurred because when the original headline, "Can Dec finally match Ant?" was changed to "Can Dec at last match Ant?" only one side of the spread was changed, leaving the a of "at" on one page and "nally" of "finally" on the other. Ant and Dec are UK television presenters.

N - Plagiarist chairs conference

Doctors have called for a boycott of a conference that is to be chaired by a proved plagiarist, the BMJ reports (2009;339:b3545). The fifth annual meeting of the International Academy of Perinatal Medicine is being chaired by Asim Kurjak, who was found guilty of scientific misconduct in 2007. Zagreb University did not sanction him. Harvey Marcovitch, former chairman of the Committee on Publication Ethics, said that by attending speakers "threaten the integrity of science." Iain Chalmers, who originally exposed Kurjak, finds it "extraordinary that the perinatal research community is prepared to lionise a man guilty of scientific and professional misconduct." See BMJ 2006;333:594-7, doi:10.1136/bmj.38968.611296.F7.

N - Scientist sued over missing data

A company is suing a researcher who it accuses of committing more than five years of research fraud, it said in a lawsuit filed in a US federal court, reported in the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review ( The company is suing Pittsburgh University for failing to properly supervise the research. Onconome, a privately owned biotechnology company, says that it spent millions of dollars funding prostate cancer research based on a patent held by the university and Robert Getzenberg and on preparing to produce and market tests based on the patent only to find that it was based on breakthroughs that "are imaginary."
Thanks to Moira Johnson

N - Professor faces censure over data

A UK doctor who authored a paper about an osteoporosis drug is to face a General Medical Council hearing over accusations that he falsely declared that he had seen all the data, the BMJ reports (2009;339:b3990). Richard Eastell was research director in Sheffield when the study was submitted to the Journal of Bone and Mineral Research. The university carried out measurements on blood and urine samples that had been taken during trials of Procter & Gamble’s osteoporosis drug risedronate. The data were provided to Procter & Gamble, which carried out analyses, and only these were sent back for interpretation.

N - Search for the phoniest formula

Newspapers often feature mathematical formulas that purport to calculate the perfect biscuit, the perfect marriage, the perfect joke, and so on, complains the science writer Simon Singh in the Guardian ( These pseudoequations are usually thinly veiled public relations activity, which "demeans mathematics and science by giving the impression that academics waste their time on frivolous topics and are willing to come up with the appropriate answer if someone is prepared to pay them enough money." Singh is looking for the most appalling equation to appear in the UK national press in the next year—email articles to See

N - PLoS archives ghostwriting documents

A US federal court has forced the release of about 1500 documents detailing how articles that include marketing messages written by ghostwriters but attributed to academics are strategically placed in the medical literature. PLoS Medicine acted in litigation against hormone manufacturers by women who developed breast cancer. The journal argued that documents identified during preparation for the case should be made public. The journal's editor Ginny Barbour said that ghostwriting "gives corporate research a veneer of independence and credibility" and may "substantially distort the scientific record . . . threaten[ing] the validity and credibility of medical knowledge." See

N - Journal or blog?

Researchers need better guidance on the value of different communication channels, the Research Information Network has concluded in a report based on literature review, bibliometric analysis, focus groups, interviews, and an online survey ( Conferences, blogs, and social networking tools are competing with scholarly journals for researchers’ work. "If funders and policymakers want to encourage researchers to publish and disseminate their work through channels other than scholarly journals, they need to give stronger and more positive messages about how they will be valued when it comes to assessing researchers' performance," a briefing on the paper states.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

N - Medical ghostwriting is rife

Authors published in the New England Journal of Medicine who responded to a survey presented at the sixth peer review congress reported a 10.9% rate of ghostwriting, according to the New York Times ( Six of the top medical journals published many articles in 2008 that were written by ghostwriters. Among authors of 630 articles who responded anonymously, 7.8% acknowledged contributions to their articles by people whose work should have qualified them to be named as authors on the papers but who were not listed. Writers sponsored by industry may introduce bias, affecting treatment decisions by doctors and ultimately patient care.

N - Most papers find a home

Ninety per cent of papers rejected by the New England Journal of Medicine are eventually published elsewhere, showed research presented at the sixth international congress on peer review in Vancouver, according to the BMJ (2009;339:b3777). Researchers identified all papers that the journal rejected in 1995 and 2003 from their databases and searched for them on PubMed in 2008-9. In 1995 1431 papers were rejected after peer review, of which 1273 (89%) had been published by 2009, in 384 different journals. About 20% of the papers rejected ended up in other general journals and 75% in specialty or subspecialty journals.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

B - Equity for Open-Access Journal Publishing

Shieber SM. Equity for Open-Access Journal Publishing. PLoS Biol 2009;7(8):e1000165. doi:10.1371/journal.pbio.1000165

Neither readers nor authors would in principle disagree with the open-access approach, i.e. articles freely available online without any access fee. But who should pay for the process? Of course commercial publishers, that have to sustain costs of editing, peer-reviewing, staffing, and marketing, could be sceptic to convert their journals to an open-access model, and could turn to “author-pays” approach. To improve efficiency and sustainability of open-access process, Shieber suggests a “compact model” strategy, in which universities and institutions provide unfungible funds to pay open-access processing fees for articles based on grand-funded research. The aim of the proposal is to stimulate open access, improving equity, and making the process more competitive with subscription-fee journals. Will institutions and grating bodies be happy to pay?

Sunday, September 20, 2009

N - Company sues paper's contributor for libel

The journal Circulation has printed a correction to a paper on a trial at the centre of a libel trial, the BMJ reports (2009;339:b3659). The correction (Circulation 2009;120:e71-2, doi:10.1161/CIRCULATIONAHA.109.192626) says that a trial of a migraine intervention had "a number of errors and omissions" (Circulation 2008;117:1397-404, doi:10.1161/CIRCULATIONAHA.107.727271). The lawsuit was brought by the manufacturer against Peter Wilmshurst, a consultant cardiologist, following comments he reportedly made on a website. The case shows the way libel law is being used in scientific debate. Dr Wilmshurst said that the correction is inadequate and that “the published paper is not a complete reflection of the trial."

N - Dawkins attacks libel law

Richard Dawkins has criticised UK libel law because of the "atmosphere of fear and uncertainty" that it creates for scientists who challenge claims about health products, the Guardian reports. The evolutionary biologist and author said that the law could have "disastrous consequences" for the public interest. He backs reform of the law to provide "a better balance" in favour of free speech. "If Simon [Singh, a writer being sued by the British Chiropractic Association] loses it will have major implications on the freedom . . . to engage in robust criticism of scientific and pseudoscientific work,” he said. (

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

B - Google Book Search Bibliography

Bailey CW, Jr. Google Book Search Bibliography

Version 5: 9/14/2009

Selected English-language articles and other works useful in understanding Google Book Search. from evolution of Google Book Search and the legal, library, and social issues associated with it. Where possible, links are provided to works that are freely available on the Internet, including e-prints in disciplinary archives and institutional repositories.

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

B - UNESCO Publication guidelines

UNESCO Publication guidelines, 2009

Among many existing guidelines to publication, these ones have been created as a handbook for UNESCO staff, but are free for all online. They provide information on what constitutes a UNESCO publication, how to plan the project, and how best to undertake its production. They are useful also outside the organization since they are not a guide to editorial style, which is set out in the UNESCO Style Manual. They may be useful to all staff involved in publications, but, as indicated in the introduciton, are more specifically targeted towards the programme specialists who are responsible for publication projects.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

B - Scientific Publishing Standards

Alberts B. Scientific Publishing Standards Science 2008(321)5894: 1271

DOI: 10.1126/science.1165268

An editorial by the editor in chief of Science, reporting how scientists have the absolute obligation to honesty and commenting on the necessity to guarantee clear, truthful presentations of data, results, and methods which are essential for enabling the findings of one scientist to be confirmed, refuted, or extended in new ways by other scientists. "Authors, reviewers, and editors of scientific manuscripts should therefore constantly ask themselves whether the reader has been provided with everything needed to both understand and reproduce the results".
Journals should set a higher bar for the clarity of presentation in the manuscripts that we publish. The final comment is that "As scientists and as journal publishers, we can and we must do better..."

Monday, August 24, 2009

B - Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses: The PRISMA Statement

Moher D, Liberati A, Tetzlaff J, Altman DG, 2009 Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses: The PRISMA Statement. PLoS Med 6(7): e1000097.


The PRISMA Statement (Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic reviews and Meta-Analyses) is a new revised guideline for reporting systematic reviews and meta-analyses PRISMA should supersede the existing QUOROM Statement; journals and other organisations are therefore encouraged to update their instructions and resources and refer to these new guidelines. The PRISMA Statement consists of a 27-item checklist and a four-phase flow diagram. Papers on
PRISMA guideline have been published simultaneously in several journals (in short and long versions) including BMJ, Journal of Clinical Epidemiology, Open Medicine, Annals of Internal Medicine.

Monday, August 17, 2009

B - Publishing before the thesis: 58 postgraduate views

Hartley J, Betts L. Higher Education Review 2009; 41(3):29-44

In this study a draft questionnaire - later defined and assessed in its final form - was submitted to various postgraduate students (English, American, Australian). “Publishing before or after completing the thesis( not only shows the importance it plays such an exercise for postgraduate students themselves but also the “changing role of the supervisor” itself. Early publishing encourages and give self-assurance to the student and the supervisor becomes also a co-author. The questionnaire shows that “32 out of the 58 students (55%) had successfully submitted papers for publication before submitting their theses” and that students received significantly more help from their supervisors before submitting their thesis rather than after and the latter were listed more in their papers again before than after publishing. The question of citation of coauthors in relation to the quality of the thesis themselves emerged and the average of journals with more “impact factors” where the students had published was taken into account; in this case data showed no relevance whether publication occurred before or after the thesis: it did show, however, a significant difference when the publishing was done by the students with or without the supervisor contribution. Further data from the questionnaire are compared.

B - Better Read That Again: Web Hoaxes and Misinformation

Piper PS. Better Read That Again: Web Hoaxes and Misinformation. Searcher 2000; Vol.8 (8)

A good guide into the world wide web internet hoax sites (that doesn’t sound published in the year 2000) by a Librarian from Western Washington University entitled: “Better Read That Again: Web Hoaxes and Misinformation” that deals with “lack of quality control” as far as information is concerned. Counterfeit web sites (that attempts to pass themselves off as authentic) where “many Internet users are ill-equipped to do a capable job of scrutiny” are well describes as “a so-called gray area of information”. In this very useful article attention is paid to the different types and degrees of misinformation with examples of existing counterfeit sites as well as of anti-hoaxes ones. The area to which he points out is a very large one the author doesn’t fail to underline how “Health information is perhaps among the most troublesome of all information on the Web” and also how “the consequences are perhaps nowhere as severe as in the areas of health and business. Erroneous health information can quite simply lead to serious injury and even death”.

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

B - Opening up public health: a strategy of information and

Reidpath D, Allotey P. Opening up public health: a strategy of information and
communication technology to support population health. Lancet 2009 (243) 21: 1050-51


Information saves lives because it is fundamental to public health practice. But, today, the volume and complexity of knowledge and information have outstripped the capacity of health systems to function at their best without the support of information management systems. Therefore, electronic information and communication technology (ICT) has become indispensable to cope with the overload of infornmation. The author supports the cautious use of free and open source software to manage the bulk of information ans save precious money with particular regard to resource poor settings.

Thanks to Daniela Marsili

B - Scientific writing

Langdon-Neuer E. Scientific writing. The Write stuff. 2009, 18 (2): 69-72

This in an editorial relating to an entire issue of The Write Stuff dedicated to scientific writing. It is an extra large issue of a valuable journal that in itself represents a reference point for editors and translators at different levels, both experienced and non experienced. In fact it discusses current practices of writing and gives guidance on improviong writing styles, but it also contains provocative view points on controvertial issues and a rich and updated bibliography.

B - Writing an introduction to the introduction

Harley J. Writing an introduction to the introduction. Journal of Technical Writing and Communication, 2009, 39, 3, 321-329.

Many authors give advice to students about how to write the Introduction section of their articles. Some give examples of different ways of doing this in general, and a few discuss the opening sentence in particular. In this paper 13 different types of opening sentences are outlined, and their usage contrasted in British and American journals in the Sciences and Social Sciences. Implications for teaching are considered.

B - Fraud, misinformation and the open culture

Pointon, Tony. Fraud, misinformation and the open culture. Physics World 2009;22(8):20

Letter suggesting that the questions opened by the Schön case of scientific fraud are much broader than just science. The plea by Michael Nielson (Physics World 2009;22(5):30-35) for a more "open" culture on science might lead to an overload of unchecked information. He questions why the devices Schön claimed to have made were never checked either for their existence or, if they existed, that they worked

Thanks to J. Glen

B - Fledgling site challenges arXiv server

Cartwright, Jon. Fledgling site challenges arXiv server. Physics World 2009;22(8):9

A new website called viXra has been set up in the UK for sharing preprints with no restrictions on the sort of papers that can be posted, following criticisms about the way the arXiv site is moderated. The history of arXiv and its refereeing process are described and the nature of the concern is examined.

Thanks to J. Glen

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

N - UK government advises on Twitter

The UK government has released 20 pages of advice for government departments on how to use the microblogging site Twitter, which limits messages to 140 characters, the Guardian reports. Its author, Neil Williams, recommends that tweets are edited by humans (without overuse of automation), frequent (2-10 a day with at least 30 minutes gap), timely (about events today or coming soon), and credible. He admits that he “was surprised by just how much there was to say, and quite how worth saying it is.” The 5382 word template would need roughly 260 separate tweets to disseminate. (, 27 Jul 2009, “Is Big Brother following you? Government's guide to using Twitter”)

Friday, July 17, 2009

N - Chemistry publisher goes online-only

The American Chemical Society will be turning most of its academic journal into online-only publications, reports Nature . The move has been prompted by declining print subscriptions and diminishing financial returns from the print format. From July, most of the publisher’s journals will print two pages of reduced text sideways on each page – and subscribers will be offered incentives to switch to online-only access. (Nature 2009 Jun 17 June, doi:10.1038/news.2009.576)
Thanks to Margaret Cooter

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

B - The e-Index, Complementing the h-Index for Excess Citations

Zhang C-T. The e-Index, Complementing the h-Index for Excess Citations. PLoS ONE 2009;4(5): e5429.


A new indicator is here proposed: the e-index. It is a necessary h-index complement since it represents the ignored excess citations. Therefore, for accurate and fair comparisons, it is necessary to use the e-index together with the h-index, which are independent of each other.
The e-index is a useful measure to compare group of researchers having the same h-index or to evaluate highly cited scientists.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

N - Turkey censors evolution articles

The Turkish government has provoked outrage by censoring magazine articles on the life and work of Charles Darwin, Nature reports. The articles were dropped from the March issue of the popular science magazine Bilim ve Teknik (Science and Technology; The magazine is published by the Turkish government's research funding and science management organisation, Tübitak. A planned cover picture of Darwin was switched for an illustration relating to global warming. The editor, Çiğdem Atakuman, has been removed from her post. The claims have fuelled speculation that the Islamic oriented government in Turkey wants to increase the role of religion and promote Muslim creationism. Richard Dawkins's website is banned in Turkey. (Nature 2009 Mar 10, doi:10.1038/news.2009.150)

N - Comic Sans walks into a bar

Who would have thought a typeface could cause such controversy? Comic Sans, designed by Vincent Connare, has attracted the wrath of designers, offended by its use in contexts such as restaurant signage and even medical information. "These widespread abuses of printed type threaten to erode the very foundations upon which centuries of typographic history are built," says, arguing for a total ban. But the Guardian declares, "It can be a welcome break from those corporate Arials and oh-so-chic Helveticas. It has even given rise to jokes: "Bartender says, 'We don’t serve your type.'" (

N - China publishes more in top journals

China has tripled its research published in leading international journals in the past decade, a study by Nature China has found, reports SciDev.Net. The study reviewed the number of mainland Chinese research papers published in Cell, the Lancet, Nature, the New England Journal of Medicine, and Science from 2000 to 2009. It found that the average number of published papers per journal has risen from seven in 2000 to 25 in the first half of 2009. By June 2009, mainland Chinese scientists had published 81 papers in Nature and 59 in Science. An analysis of papers registered by Institute for Scientific Information found that 37% of China’s high citation papers in 2006 were chemistry related. (

N - Web 2.0 opens conferences

Social networking is changing behaviour among conference attendees, Nature reports. Delegates can informally discuss presentations as they occur, with each other and with outside parties. Some see this collaboration as the way forward. Others think that the blurring of the line between journalists and researchers may make scientists reluctant to present unpublished data. Some conference organisers have banned digital photography in talks and poster sessions and some consider bloggers to be members of the media and subject them to reporting restrictions. In an accompanying editorial, Nature says that organisers must decide whether meetings are completely open or “off the record” (Nature 2009;459:1050-1, doi:10.1038/4591050a and 2009;460:152, doi:10.1038/460152a)

N - Twitter meets arXiv

"Tweprints" will eventually begin to display the most talked about scientific papers, using the largest open collection of online papers available (arXiv) and the most prolific and popular social networking tool (Twitter), hopes its creator Robert Simpson at Cardiff University. For a tweet (a post of up to 140 characters) to be detected it must include the word "arxiv" and the eight digit arXiv paper identifier (for example, 0906.1234). ArXiv links hidden within short URLs from and are also picked up. Eight tweets a day on average are detected. You can see the latest detected tweets at
Thanks to John Glen

N - Oldest bible online

The Codex Sinaiticus, the oldest surviving Bible in the world has been published online in full ( A four year project has brought together scans of the book's more than 800 pages of animal skin parchment, which are divided between the British Library, Germany, Russia, and Egypt. Researchers, academics, and the general public can search all the surviving text and study the Greek text, which contains information not found in the modern bible. The British Library will hold an exhibition in September to mark the launch of the reunited codex with a range of historic items linked to the manuscript. (

Monday, July 13, 2009

N - Gifts for good reviews

The publishing company Elsevier has confirmed that it was a mistake to offer $25 Amazon gift cards to academics contributing to the textbook Clinical Psychology to encourage them to post favourable reviews, the BMJ reports. An email sent by the company offered to pay them for positive online reviews. A spokesman for Elsevier said that the email did not reflect company policy and said that it had been a "mistake." He said, "Encouraging interested parties to post book reviews isn't outside the norm in scholarly publishing . . . But in all instances the request should be unbiased." (BMJ 2009;339:b2841, doi:10.1136/bmj.b2841)

Thursday, July 09, 2009

B - Qualitative research articles: guidelines, suggestions and needs

Crescentini A, Mainardi G. Qualitative research articles: guidelines, suggestions and needs. Journal of Workplace Learning, 2009 (21)5: 431 - 439

DOI: 10.1108/13665620910966820

The paper discusses the design of qualitative research and the structure of a qualitative article giving some methodological suggestions to make it better for the reader and the reviewer. If these guidelines are followed the review process of articles will be smoother and the number of rejected papers should decrease

B - The insider's guide to plagiarism

The insider's guide to plagiarism. Scientific plagiarism—a problem as serious as fraud—has not received all the attention it deserves. Nature Medicine 2009 (15) 707


A little creative writing might be all you need to sail through the financial crisis. Says the author of this editorial on plagiarism, full of humor and sadness at the same time. ..."tweak the data so that the numbers are not identical but remain realistic; and, when you're ready to write it all up, paraphrase the original paper ad libitum. Last, submit your new manuscript to a modest journal in the hopes that the authors of the paper you used as 'inspiration' won't notice your 'tribute' to their work"...The conclusion is that the community needs to set appropriate standards and penalties to fight plagiarism.

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

N - Seminal Nature editor dies

John Maddox, editor of Nature from 1966 to 1973 and again from 1980 to 1995, died on 12 April 2009, according to the current editor Philip Campbell's obituary. During his first stint he laid the foundations for Nature as it is today. He replaced cronyism with an impartial system of peer review, but he liked to say that the 1953 paper on the structure of DNA would never have passed peer review. He also established a strong tradition of journalism in Nature, and he established the voice of Nature in unsigned editorials, although the voice was often unmistakably his own. (Nature 2009;458:807, doi:10.1038/458807a)

N - Train for open access

The Open Access Scholarly Information Sourcebook ( provides authoritative online training for anyone who wishes to provide open access to their research publications. It covers the concept, principles, advantages, approaches, and means to achieving open access. The project wants more trainers and centres of expertise worldwide, to share resources and best practice, and to demonstrate and record successful outcomes around the world. The sourcebook has information for researchers, librarians, and repository managers. The site highlights developments and initiatives from around the world, with links to diverse additional resources and case studies.
Thanks to Alison Clayson

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

N - Many Chinese trials flawed

The design of more than 90% of 2235 randomised controlled trials published in Chinese medical journals was flawed, concludes a review (Trials 2009;10:46, doi:10.1186/1745-6215-10-46). Researchers trawled a Chinese national database for studies of 20 common diseases published between 1994 and 2005. Only 207 of the studies used accepted randomisation methods. Data from falsely reported trials can mislead healthcare providers, consumers and policy makers. In a recent Lancet article, Jia He and colleagues at the Second Military Medical University in Shanghai, said, "Over the past 20 years biomedical articles authored and published by Chinese researchers have improved greatly in quality" (2009;373:2091-3). (BMJ 2009;339:b2729)

N - Drug company made journal

Merck paid Elsevier an undisclosed sum to produce several volumes of the Australasian Journal of Bone and Joint Medicine, which might be mistaken for a peer reviewed journal, the Scientist reports. However, it contained only reprinted articles that seemed to act solely as marketing tools, with no disclosure of company sponsorship. The journal was not indexed in Medline and carried advertisements for the Merck drugs Fosamax and Vioxx. A spokesperson for Elsevier told the Scientist, "I wish there was greater disclosure that it was a sponsored journal." (

N - Millionth word was nonsense

"The biggest load of chicken droppings" is how the linguist and academic David Crystal described claims that the English language would get its millionth word at 10 22 am on 10 June, on the BBC programme Newsnight. The Global Language Monitor ( announced in June that "Web 2.0" had become the millionth English word or phrase to enter the language. Crystal blogs, "All it means is that the algorithm they've been using to track English words has finally reached a million." He considered technical dictionaries: "There are over a million insects in the world, for example, and English presumably has words for most of them—even if several are Latin loan words." See (

N - The end for embargoes?

Embargoes turn journalists into propagandists for scientists and academic journals and reduce science to an artificial series of "eureka moments," according to Vincent Kiernan, associate dean at Georgetown University speaking at the World Conference of Science Journalists. Richard Horton, editor the Lancet, said, "You've sold your soul to publicity masquerading as science." Many journalists think that embargoes ensure that they don't miss a story and have time to report. Losing the system would force editors to employ reporters who understand science rather than simply regurgitate weekly press releases, Horton concluded. Horton suggested a randomised trial in the Lancet to see if embargoed papers get more and better coverage in the lay press. (

B - Letters commenting on a case of fraud

Brandon, D. Santic, B. Reflections on the Schön affair. Physics World 2009;22(7):19.

Two separate letters commenting on this case of fraud. Brandon discusses earlier cases such as "Piltdown man" and the reasons for them but also points out that false accusations are not uncommon quoting a particular case that ruined a scientist's career. Santic discusses the position of co-authors and suggests a categorization of co-authors into four phenomenological types: writer, worker, provider and leader, to help avoid some of the pitfalls of the Schön case.

Posted for John Glen

N - Court silences science writer

The science writer and broadcaster Simon Singh ( is being sued for libel in the UK courts by the British Chiropractic Association. Singh wrote an article on 19 April 2008 in the Guardian that criticised claims made by chiropractors about the efficacy of spinal manipulation for childhood conditions such as asthma, colic, and ear infections, citing a lack of evidence. He also complained that the association "happily promotes bogus treatments." In a preliminary hearing the judge ruled that Singh's words imply conscious dishonesty and that they amount to a statement of fact rather than comment. English libel law demands that to win the case Singh will effectively have to prove that the association recklessly promotes chiropractic. The charity Sense About Science has a campaign to keep libel laws out of science ( More than 100 prominent supporters, including David King, former chief scientific adviser to the UK government, call for an urgent review of English libel law in a statement ( (BMJ 2009;338:b2254)

Monday, July 06, 2009

N - Editor quits after hoax

The editor of an open access journal has quit after a fake computer generated paper passed the journal's peer review process and was accepted. The Open Information Science Journal ( would have charged the authors $800 to publish the hoax, which was submitted under false names. The authors claim to have wanted to test the editorial standards of the publisher, Bentham Science Publishers. Alex Williamson, former publishing director at the BMJ, suggested that journals vary in quality and that poor ones are more likely to be open access: "Any idiot can start a journal on the web." (

N - Indian journal's integrity questioned

An academic has branded the Indian journal Scientific Medicine ( a "scam," according to reports in the BMJ. A publicity email sent by a student representative wrongly listed Richard Smith, former BMJ editor, Gavin Yamey, a senior editor at PloS Medicine, and others, as members of the editorial board. The student says that he tried to correct this mistake, but the email had already been circulated further. Scientific Medicine says that one of its aim is to give students in developing countries the opportunity to learn about medical research and the publication process—for which it charges them $100. (BMJ 2009;338:b735 and b804)

N - A pedant and proud

"Pedant is not a term I choose, but nor is it one that I any longer regard as the insult that is generally intended," writes Oliver Kamm, in an introduction to his new column on the English language in the Times. The column will prescribe usage because "language needs its protectors because it is not infinitely malleable," he says. "Rapid change causes much of the literature of the past to become obscure to modern readers. A society with a diminished sense of its literary inheritance is inevitably coarsened. The same goes for its understanding of history." (
Thanks to Margaret Cooter

N - Help for developing world authors

Free editorial feedback for authors in the developing world is being provided by students from leading academic institutions in Canada, Europe, and the United States, reports Naomi Antony on SciDev.Net. SciEdit ( adapts texts in accordance with the editorial standards of journals such as Nature. SciEdit is the brainchild of the Journal of Young Investigators, a student led, peer reviewed journal for undergraduates, with members from more than 30 academic institutions including the All India Institute of Medical Sciences. Most international scientific journals are written in English, making it difficult for non-native English speaking scientists to compete, says Justin Chakma, cofounder of SciEdit. (
Thanks to Alison Clayson

N - Editors must cover climate change

That editors must do more to encourage articles about climate change was a recurring theme at the World Conference of Science Journalists, according to Sian Lewis of SciDev.Net. The problem is that climate change is "tomorrow’s story, or next year's—but not today's." International climate talks, such as the UNFCCC Conference of Parties meetings and the negotiations planned in Copenhagen, can be used as hooks for articles on global warming, a delegate suggested. Another ruse is to use local events to bring up related issues of climate change. "Humanise it," was the advice from the Guardian's Damien Harrington. (

Sunday, July 05, 2009

B - A Principal Component Analysis of 39 Scientific Impact Measures

Bollen J, Van de Sompel H, Hagberg A, Chute R, 2009 A Principal Component Analysis of 39 Scientific Impact Measures. PLoS ONE 2009;4(6): e6022.


An interesting analysis on 39 different kinds of indicators to assess scholarly impact in science.
A part from the traditional citation counts, and the common Journal Impact Factor (that should be used cautiously), new methods like log usage data and social network analysis are reported. However, in the opinion of the authors, it is important to stress that we do not have a universally accepted, golden standard of impact to calibrate any new measures to. It is even difficult to define "scientific impact” precisely. And it may be understood and measured in many different ways. The issue thus becomes which impact measures best express its various aspects and interpretations. In conclusion, scientific impact is a multi-dimensional construct that can not be adequately measured by any single indicator, although some measures are more suitable than others.

Thursday, July 02, 2009

B - Looking for Landmarks: The Role of Expert Review and Bibliometric Analysis in Evaluating Scientific Publication Outputs

Allen L, Jones C, Dolby K, Lynn D, Walport M. Looking for Landmarks: The Role of Expert Review and Bibliometric Analysis in Evaluating Scientific Publication Outputs. PLoS ONE 2009;4(6): e5910.


The evaluation of research quality is always a hot issue. This article shows that relying solely on bibliometric indicators can lead to evaluation bias; since experts judgement highly rated articles that were not highly cited during the first three years after publication. The importance of single papers or small groups of research should be assessed with a complementary method that links expert peer reviews to quantitative measures.

Friday, June 26, 2009

N - Publisher censors sexuality article

Taylor and Francis has prevented an article on pederasty from being published in the Journal of Homosexuality (, blogged Harvey Marcovitch on The article had been accepted before the publisher acquired the journal. Advance online publication of the abstract of the article caused uproar after a conservative US pressure group made "the baseless accusation that [the author] was . . . advocating sex with children," according to an editor. In compromise the author was invited to revise the article for a theme issue, but Taylor and Francis, whose journals belong to the Committee on Publication Ethics (, then decided against publication.

N - Google affects the brain

The act of searching with Google changes patterns of cognition, research has shown. An exploratory study of people aged 55-76 found that internet searching may engage neural circuitry that is not activated while reading text pages, in people with prior computer and internet search experience. The researchers used functional magnetic resonance imaging of the brain to compare activity in net savvy and net naive users. The net savvy group had more signal intensity in additional regions controlling decision making, complex reasoning, and vision, including the frontal pole, anterior temporal region, anterior and posterior cingulate, and hippocampus. More research is needed, particularly in younger web users. (American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry 2009;17:116-26,
Thanks to Margaret Cooter

Sunday, June 21, 2009

B - I Am Not a Scientist, I Am a Number

Bourne PE, Fink JL. I Am Not a Scientist, I Am a Number. PLoS Comput Biol. 2008 4(12): e1000247.


The idea of having our scholarly output properly characterized is not out of reach, since the articles we write are already identified uniquely by a Digital Object Identifier (DOI; discussed further below). A book or journal is identified by an ISBN, and citations are identified by PubMed identifiers, and so on. The ideas discussed here simply take this identification process for individual publications and citations to the point of providing unique descriptors for each author and to uniquely identify all of each author's scholarly work.

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Sharing medical research data. Whose rights and who’s right?

Greenhalgh, T. Sharing medical research data. Whose rights and who’s right? BMJ 2009;338:b1499

A set of objections to Groves' article “Managing UK research data for future use”, which include issues with data interpretation when it is “cleaved” from the context in which it was collected and/or the people who supplied it and interpreted it, and the breakdown of the trust between researchers and research participants.


Managing UK research data for future use

Groves, T. Managing UK research data for future use. BMJ 2009 338: b1252

The BMJ has recently joined a host of other journals in encouraging authors to make raw research data available to others. Authors are being asked to include a data sharing statement at the end of their original research articles. The statement will explain what additional data are available, to whom and from where they can be found. However, for medical journals sharing of clinical research data has ethical implications, with the maintenance of patient confidentiality being a major challenge. A list of solutions are proposed.


Essay: The Future of Scientific Publishing

This essay was the last in a series of nine essays written to celebrate last year's 50th anniversary of Physical Review Letters. Both physicists and editors contributed to the series. This particular offering looks ahead to the future of scientific publishing and suggests that most difficult problems that its faces are a result of the ever-increasing volume of published scientific research. Aids to the individual physicist in wading through the mine of information are discussed, which include virtual journals and artificial intelligence programs.