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 (