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. (www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2009/jul/27/twitter-socialnetworking, 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; www.biltek.tubitak.gov.tr). 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 www.bancomicsans.com, 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.'" (www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2009/apr/28/leader-praise-comic-sans-typography)

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. (www.scidev.net/en/science-communication/news/china-gaining-ground-in-top-international-journals.html)

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 tinyurl.com and is.gd are also picked up. Eight tweets a day on average are detected. You can see the latest detected tweets at http://orbitingfrog.com/arxiv.
Thanks to John Glen

N - Oldest bible online

The Codex Sinaiticus, the oldest surviving Bible in the world has been published online in full (www.codexsinaiticus.org). 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. (www.iwr.co.uk/information-world-review/news/2245468/world-oldest-book-goes-online)

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 (www.openoasis.org) 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." (www.the-scientist.com/blog/display/55671/)

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 (www.languagemonitor.com) 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 http://ese-bookshelf.blogspot.com/2008/07/english-gets-millionth-word.html. (http://david-crystal.blogspot.com/2009/04/on-biggest-load-of-rubbish.html)

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. (http://blogs.nature.com/news/blog/2009/07/embargoes_broken.html)

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 (www.simonsingh.com) 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 (www.senseaboutscience.org.uk/freedebate). 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 (www.senseaboutscience.org.uk/index.php/site/project/334). (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 (www.bentham.org/open/toiscij/) 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." (www.guardian.co.uk/education/2009/jun/18/science-editor-resigns-hoax-article)

N - Indian journal's integrity questioned

An academic has branded the Indian journal Scientific Medicine (www.scientificmedicineonline.org) 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." (http://women.timesonline.co.uk/tol/life_and_style/women/the_way_we_live/article6586237.ece)
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 (www.jyi.org/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. (www.scidev.net/en/news/scheme-helps-polish-developing-country-science-pap.html)
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. (http://scidevnet.wordpress.com/2009/07/01/reporting-tomorrows-story-today/)

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.