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.

B - Reality Bites: Periodicals Price Survey 2009

Van Orsdel LC, Born K. Reality Bites: Periodicals Price Survey 2009. In the face of the downturn, libraries and publishers brace for big cuts. Library Journal 2009 /4)15

Libraries of all types and sizes are facing dramatic budget cuts. Journal prices are here reported and discusssed. Data are provided for the average 2009 price title in different scientific disciplines (chemistry ranking first at $3,690), the average price per ISI title by country (Russia ranking first at $3,712). The article also includes cost history per groups of disciplines since 2005 and projection prices for2010. Wide commentary is provided on the possible making of Open access mandatory.

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. Many surveys have asked scientists directly whether they have committed or know of a colleague who committed research misconduct, but their results appeared difficult to compare and synthesize. This is the first meta-analysis of these surveys. Considering that these surveys ask sensitive questions and have other limitations, it appears likely that this is a conservative estimate of the true prevalence of scientific misconduct.

Monday, June 08, 2009

B - Marketing data: has the rise of impact factor led to the fall of objective language in the scientific article?

Fraser VJ, Martin JG. Marketing data: has the rise of impact factor led to the fall of objective language in the scientific article? Respiratory Research 2009, 10:35.

This investigation stresses the fact that the use of value-laden terms in clinical and biomedical journals has increased in the past 25 years. And this is particularly valid for important research journals of high impact factors. The recent trends in the use of biased words in a scientific manuscript shows an exaggeration of the importance of findings and a loss of scientific objectivity. This may fuel skepticism and alienate the reader. In conclusion, it is better to encourage more modest claims and a return to objectivity: "The numbers and not their interpretation, must speak for themselves".

B - Assessing the impact of biomedical research in Academic Institutions of disparate sizes

Sypsa V, Hatzakis A. Assessing the impact of biomedical research in Academic Institutions of disparate sizes. BMC Medical Research Methodology 2009, 9:33. Epub ahead of print

A valid and transparent evaluation of universities is increasingly needed. However, it continues to be a controversial issue. In particular, as regards the assessment of biomedical research, peer-review is not adequate for large-scale evaluations and the authors propose, beyond the usual bibliometric indicators, a new impact measure: the Modified Impact Index (MII). This indicator is suitable for large as well as for small field specific publication sets in biomedicine and should be used together with the h-index, when a comparison of the research output of institutions of disparate sizes is performed.

B - Economic implications of alternative scholarly publishing models

Houghton J, Rasmussen B, Sheehan P, Oppenheim C, Anne Morris, Creaser C, Greenwood H, Summers M, Gourlay A.Economic implications of alternative scholarly publishing models: Exploring the costs and benefits. JISC EI-ASPM Project. A report to the Joint Information Systems Committee. JISC 2009 (Document 510 Version 1.1)

Advances in information and communication technologies are disrupting traditional models of scholarly publishing, radically changing our capacity to reproduce, distribute, control, and publish information. The key question is whether there are new opportunities and new models for scholarly publishing that would better serve researchers and better communicate and disseminate research findings. This is a detailed report on the ongoing debate on the economics of scholarly publishing and alternative publishing models. It focuses mainly on costs, pointing at the most cost-effective system, that is not necessarily the cheapest. The report will help stakeholders understand the institutional, budgetary and wider economic implications of three of the major emerging models for scholarly publishing: i.e. subscription publishing, open access publishing and self-archiving.