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.