Wednesday, December 29, 2010
The article reviews relevant guidelines and provides practical tips for authors interested in collaborating with medical communicators (i.e. medical writers and editors). It addresses a series of questions, such as what to expect from medical communicators, how to evaluate them, and how to collaborate ethically and efficiently with them.
The publishers' mission is changing: the traditional medicine journal publishing trials and reviews in general is perceived as too static and remote from practice. Now publishers are re-focusing their efforts towards "information hubs" in which several information kits widely connected with other informatics systems can be assembled. Publishers should find a balance between information consumed at the point of care and fidelity to a cumulative and extended approach to information. Final users should value both dimensions: the action "what to do" and the reference content "why we do".
Friday, December 17, 2010
Disclosure of conflict of interests by authors of articles published in biomedical journals has become common practice. The information included in these disclosures helps the reader to understand the relationships between the authors and various commercial entities that may have an interest in the article contents. This editorial is published simultaneously in all journals that are members of the ICMJE announcing a new disclosure format that will be used by all of them.
Reviewing manuscripts is central to editorial peer review. A common complaint by nearly all journal editors is the difficulty in finding competent reviewers to assess an increasing volume of submitted manuscripts. Topics covered in this article include: responding to a review invitation, crafting comments to editors and authors, offering a recommended disposition, dealing with revised manuscripts, and understanding roles and responsibilities.
This commentary describes the international problem of research integrity and publication ethics from the view of a German ombudsperson who has been actively involved in the topic since 1997, with experience from several cases of authorship conflicts. Possible explanations for the observed misconduct are discussed as well as ways to prevent it.
Monday, December 13, 2010
To strengthen the review process, the Journal of Participatory Medicine proposes to enlarge peer expertise to include experts outside the academic and professional communities (such as health care users and other lay experts), who have a stake in the quality of the evidence. According to the author, this can improve the valuable source of knowledge and help rebuild evidence-sharing conduits among patients, physicians, and researhers.
Thursday, December 09, 2010
Within the past decade, the development of scientific performance indicators has accelerated rapidly, accompanied by the the ready availability of online databases such as the Web of Science, Scopus and Google Scholar. The author offers a survey of this evolving situation: from the impact factor to the h-index and its more than a dozen variants and to the increasingly popular class of measure called "evaluative informetric". This last metric gives heavier weight to citations from papers that are themselved highly cited.
To examine the open access availability of Library and Information Science (LIS) research, a study was conducted using Google Scholar to search for articles from 20 top LIS journals published in 2007. The results showed a lack of archiving of articles, being not deposited in institutional or subject repositories at a high rate. This is in spite of the fact that a previous study found that 90% of the LIS journals allow some form of self-archiving.
A recent report, issued by the US House Science and Technology Committee's Roundtable on Scholarly Publishing, recommends that journal articles derived from federal research funding should be made publicly available as quickly as practicable (generally, in a year or less after publication). The report calls for each US funding agency to develop public access policies and focuses on the critical role of peer review, the need for continued engagement among stakeholders, and the importance of fostering innovation.
Tuesday, December 07, 2010
The detection and interest in scientific fraud in publishing increased from 55 articles on this issue in 1983 to 167 in 2009. Since January 2009 the International Journal of Cardiology has required all papers published in the Journal should carry a statement that all authors adhere to its principles of ethical publishing and should cite and agree to a published statement of ethical authorship and publishing. Since then the number of fraudulent cases has begun to fall and, more important, cases have been easier to deal with, as the authors have agreed how their cases should be handled.
This article provides a full account of the procedures used to write one specific book review. Essentially, the process involves three main stages: reading, scanning and making notes about the text; writing an initial rough draft of the review; editing and polishing it several times to produce a final version. Examples are given to illustrate this three-stage procedure and some comments on the language used in reviews are also included.
Tuesday, November 23, 2010
Two versions of a randomized controlled trial that differed only in the way the main finding was described (positive finding or no difference) were peer reviewed by 210 reviewers of two journals (The Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery and Clinical Orthopaedics and Related Research). Three forms of positive-outcome were observed: reviewers were significantly more likely to recommend the positive version for publication; they detected more errors in the no-difference version; and they awarded higher methods scores to the positive version, even though the two versions had identical methods sections.
Monday, November 22, 2010
The CV of a scientist does not mention his failed exams, unsuccessful fellowship applications, rejected projects or papers never accepted for publication. The author suggests to compile an "alternative" CV of failures, that could include every rejected application, project proposal and paper. Keeping it visible has two purposes: to remind each scientist of his own setbacks and to help other colleagues to shake off a rejection and start again.
Tuesday, November 16, 2010
We are approaching the end of the first generation of open access implementation. This report evaluates progress by focusing on a small number of cases, including the University of Zurich, the Wellcome Trust, UK PubMedCentral, SCOAP3, the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, and the Austrian Science Fund. The impact of open access on digital scholarship is examined, with suggestions on what we can learn from the cases examined.
Monday, November 15, 2010
Intellectual property in scholarly communication is becoming increasingly complex, and research is becoming more collaborative and innovative. As a result, authorship and ownership criteria are being challenged, while institutions, funding bodies, and libraries are emerging as stakeholders in the publishing process. This article looks at where publishers fit in all this.
This article examines the balance between industry support and integrity of authorship. All articles submitted to peer-reviewed journals should be accompanied by full acknowledgement of industry-financed contributions, so that editors and readers can be clear about any relationship that could influence objectivity.
Sunday, November 14, 2010
There are many different types of bias in medical research and publishing. This systematic mapping analysis of over 17 million articles from PubMed found 235 bias terms and 103 other terms used commonly in articles about bias. Forty terms were used in the title or abstract of more than 100 articles each. Clusters of terms were organized into macroscopic maps showing the distribution of bias types. Some bias tems (e.g. confounding, selection bias, response bias, publication bias) show increased use over time.
Monday, October 25, 2010
The traditional ways of scientific publishing and peer review do not live up to the needs of efficient communication and quality assurance in today's rapidly developing scientific world. The advantages of open access (OA), public peer review and interactive discussion are demonstrated by the description of the interactive OA peer review practised by the journal Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics (ACP) and a number of interactive OA sister journals. They intend to demonstrate that interactive OA peer review with a two-stage publication process and public discussion effectively resolves the dilemma between rapid scientific exchange and thorough quality assurance. Its basic concepts could be easily adjusted to the different needs and capacities of different scientific communities.
The aim of the article is to test whether there is a potential source of bias in the manuscript reviewing in public peer review at the interactive open access journal Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics (ACP). Public peer review (author's and reviewers' comments are publicly exchanged) is supposed to bring a new openness to the reviewing process. Results have shown that editor-suggested reviewers rated manuscripts between 30% and 42% less favorably than author-suggested reviewers. Journal editors should then consider either doing without the use of author-suggested reviewers or, if the are used, bringing in more than one editor-suggested reviewer for the review process.
Sunday, October 24, 2010
Three clinical trials at Duke University, USA, were suspended late last year following a protracted investigation. The problem was the inability to reproduce the 'genomic signatures' used to select cancer therapies. Is it the job of journals to help to maintain reproducibility as a cornerstone of the scientific process?
Friday, October 22, 2010
The hypothesis by the Spanish philosopher Ortega y Gasset says that top-level research cannot be successful without a mass of medium researchers on which the top rests. According to it, highly-cited and medium-cited papers would equally refer to papers with a medium impact. The issue is highly relevant for today's research funding policies: should research funding be focused on elite scientists or rather aim at generating scientific capabilities among the scientific community? In this study the question was addressed from a bibliometric perspective analyzing the field-specific journal sets covered by the Scopus database for the year 2003. It was demonstrated that highly-cited papers more frequently cite highly-cited papers; in other words, the higher a paper's citation impact the stronger it is connected on previous high-impact research. These findings support the so-called Newton hypothesis.
Wednesday, September 29, 2010
A new alternative method of measuring research leadership for an actor, be it a university, state, or nation, is proposed in the article. Seeking and gaining a leadership position in science brings great benefit to institutions, being the basis for much of the strategy and policy decisions. Results from this new approach have been compared to results calculated using a traditional journal category-based approach for determining leadership. The traditional method uses partitions of science based on journal categories and it is not well-suited to measuring anything that is cross-disciplinary or multi-disciplinary (research leadership is rarely mono-disciplinary). The new method is based on highly cited reference papers rather than journals and defines three different types of leadership: publication leadership, reference leadership and thought leadership. The comparison provides evidence that this new method more accurately portrays the actual patterns of research leadership at the national level.
The aim of this study was to assess the characteristics and publication pattern of theses published in biomedical-indexed journals by medical students of a private university in Peru with the highest scientific research production. Data relate to 482 medical theses registered from several databases between 2000 and 2003; of these, 85 (17.6%) were published in biomedical-indexed journals. Most of them (80%) were in Spanish and published in local journals, and 17 theses (20%) were published in foreign journals. The percentage of published theses in biomedical journals at this university is comparable with those from developed countries (e.g. Finland and France). These results cannot be generalised to all medical schools in Peru.
Usage patterns of open-access and hybrid-open-access journals in selected scholarly publications are outlined. More than 1,100 citations from eleven top science and medical journals for the years 2004, 2006 and 2008 were analyzed. The eleven high-impact journals included eight traditional, one open-access, and two hybrid-open-access journals. In most cases, the data show that the usage of open-access journals increased from 2004 to 2008.
Tuesday, September 28, 2010
The purpose of this paper is to measure the coverage of Google Scholar (GS) for 35 major Library Information Science (LIS) journals from the years 2004 to 2006, and to collect information on the type of their availability (abstract, preprint full text, free PDF, and PDF for a fee). The results show that GS was able to index 100% of the articles for only eight journals, however for most journals the coverage ratio was over 95%. The availability of articles depends on the type of publisher and it varies a lot from journal to journal. Then GS cannot substitute for abstracting and indexing services but it can greatly help in obtaining available full texts of the desidered publications.
Monday, September 27, 2010
In this first of a two-part focus on China research and publishing, people involved in research and in supplying research content in China were asked about their experiences of Chinese research and information access. Over the past 10 to 15 years Chinese researchers have been making great progress in scientific research and publishing and there has been a dramatic rise in the number of articles coming out of China. According to ISI figures, China's annual output is now second only to the USA. China is also fifth on the list of most frequently-cited source countries. Its government and institutions offer a good range of incentives for scientific research and publishing. The country is also very open to new technologies, which strenghten ist connection with the West. In the October/November issue of Research Information the focus will be on the challenges and opportunities for Western and Chinese publishers in China.
Traditional dissemination processes used by researchers, policy-makers, regulators and journals may prove inadequate for health professionals and the public, particularly during health emergencies or for reporting possible new risks of widely prescribed therapies. Communication of important research findings that have immediate implications for public health should then be improved. All stakeholders in the publication process should develop the capacity to make the process work faster when speed is critical. In such cases, the important steps of peer review and revision should be accelerated ensuring at the same time their quality and integrity, which are even more essential during health emergencies to ensure credibility.
In the instructions to authors, journal scientific editors usually give advice that the titles of articles should be concise for a better clarity of the message and a greater attractiveness for the readers. This study aims at investigating the correlation between the length of the title of a scientific article and the number of citations it receives. Title and the number of citations to all articles published in 2005 in 22 English-language journals were retrieved from citation database Scopus. Results show that longer titles are more likely associated with higher citation rates and this association is more pronounced for journals with high impact factors. An hypothesis to be tested is that longer titles are mainly those which include the study methodology and/or results in more details and could attract more attention and citations.
The Internet has enabled profound changes in the way science is performed especially in scientific communications, it has raisen new possibilities but also the potential for new problems.
A web-based review process must be carefully designed to allow for easy filtering of publications based upon their review type and quality. The author used a multi-agent simulation of treatment selection and outcome in a patient population to examine how various levels of pre-publication review might accelerate or hinder the scientific progress. The results certainly do not answer the specific question but show that both completely unreviewed and very strictly reviewed scientific communication seems likely to hinder scientific progress. Then, this relatively simple model suggests general principles and reveals interesting phenomena for further analysis.
Thursday, September 23, 2010
Letter to the American Physical Society APS News suggesting the need for the physics community to start to seriously and openly discuss issues concerning the motivation for fraud and suggesting more discussion of fraud and ethics in graduate curricula and also the need to hold supervisors to a higher standard of supervision and ethical training. He also emphasises the importance of reproducibility.
Thanks to John Glen
Tuesday, September 21, 2010
In 2008 a survey was addressed by the Association of Learned and Professional Society Publishers (ALPSP) to its members and in 2010 the Oxford University Press (OUP) surveyed its cutomers, the librarians, to find out what they thought about the long-term preservation of digital content. Preservation refers to ensuring electronic scholarly literature remains accessible to future scholars, researchers and students even if a publisher ceases operations. The results of both surveys were inconclusive. The issue of payment for digital preservation activities is crucial with a clear preference for libraries and publishers to work together on a wide range of issues, particularly in method and in funding preservation initiatives. A stronger role for governments is also advocated: one initiative could involve the modification of copyright laws to enable digital preservation.
The editors of the APS journals Physical Review Letters, Physical Review and Reviews of Modern Physics have announced a new policy by which all US public libraries are given free online access to all APS journals, they are also allowing free access to the first experimental papers from the Large Hadron Collider. These will be available to anyone under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 license and will apply to any LHC papers coming out of CERN in 2010.
Thanks to John Glen
Can scholarly journal articles and other scholarly works be made freely available on the Internet? This volume contains over 1,100 references providing in-depth coverage of published journal articles, books, and other works about the open access movement. Many references have links to freely available copies of included works.
Friday, September 17, 2010
Citation variants - that can comprise the author's name, journal, volume, first page number and year of publication - arise through a variety of mechanisms similar to those described by molecular genetics and that can be described in genetic terms. As they are often found in publications that cite one another it seems as they are heritable between scientists. The high incidence of wrong citations (WCs) reflects the fact that the contained information is to a certain extent redundant.
Wednesday, September 15, 2010
PaperMaker is a web-based service that helps the authors of a biomedical scientific publication to improve his manuscript prior to submission to a journal. It analyses the document, checks consistency parameters and gives author feedback on the appropriate use of specialized terminology and references. It also analyses the proper use of acronyms and their definitions and provides Gene Ontology (GO) and MeSH categorization of text passages. At the end of this interactive analysis, the author receives a final summary of findings, the manuscript in its corrected form and a digital structured abstract.
Friday, September 10, 2010
Reviewing manuscripts is central to editorial peer review. A common complaint of nearly all journal editors is the difficulty in finding competent reviewers: identifying content experts is relatively easy, but finding those with expertise in both content and reviewing is quite another matter. Assuming the reviewer has appropriate expertise and is free of conflicts of interest, the article provides suggestions on how to review manuscripts, in particular: goals of editorial peer review, the structure for composing a manuscript review, criteria for explicit consideration in the general comments section, how to assess the internal validity (methodological quality) and the external validity (generalizability) of a manuscript, ethical aspects and composition.
Readers assume that articles published in peer-reviewed journals are scientifically valid, but there is sufficient evidence to the contrary. Most common errors in articles are methodological or study design ones. Journals are responsible for the integrity of peer-reviewed literature but many manuscripts are not reviewed by the best in the field. The International Committee of Journal Medical Editors (ICJME) agrees that editors should correct the literature by critical critique of the articles through correspondence and then by publishing corrections or retractions. Correspondence is needed to correct mistakes, and initiate a dialogue between reasearchers and clinicians. Then, publication should be the start of the peer-review process since many readers possess the critical skills to provide enhanced knowledge regarding the content and interpretation of studies and can detect faulty data.
Today the so-called open access (OA) movement is claiming success with publishers producing hundreds of free-to-read, peer-reviewed journals. The most prominent publisher, the Public Library of Science (PLoS), launched its first journal, PLoS Biology, in 2003. A recent study found that 20% of peer-reviewed articles across all disciplines are freely available mainly through journals or as manuscripts in online repositories. However, a dispute centers whether OA is speeding scientific progress. Critics suggest that the OA publishing model encourages mediocre work. The field has received a boost in recent years from public-access policies at funding agencies and the future of OA likely will depend on what funding agencies do, particularly on the subsidies they provide.
The Source Normalized Impact per Paper (SNIP) is a new journal indicator that is based on citation data derived from Elsevier's Scopus. It combines characteristics of how well a journal is cited with characteristics of the subject area in which it exists. It overcomes existing problems in delineating the related journals that constitute a journal's subject area. The SNIP indicator is undoubtedly a smarter indicator than the Impact Factor (IF) and is relatively simple to understand. Whether it will replace the IF is an open question to date
Trying to find a single accurate metric to properly measure author impact is quite impossible at the moment as it would need to consider a number of important criteria. The article reviews the usefulness of the various author citation metrics currently available. The journal Impact Factor (jIF) is considered a wholly inadequate way of evaluating authors: the most significant reasons for it are disparities between subject areas and variation of article quality within a journal. The h-index and its variants significantly improves the IF in evaluating authors but still with some limitations. A recently proposed metric, the Author Superiority Index (ASI), corrects some of the primary problems of the h-index but is dependent upon the volume of papers published. Each of these metrics is only able to describe a small part of the whole and should then be used alongside experts' peer review.
Thursday, September 09, 2010
Researchers in the United Kingdom are anxiously waiting to see what damage may be inflicted on R&D funding by the government's budget deficit. Levels of funding for the next few years will be revealed in the government's Comprehensive Spending Review, due out on 20 October. In a speech at Queen Mary, University of London, Vince Cable, the minister for business, innovation and skills, spoke enthusiastically about science, but gave little away about the cuts to come.
He pointed out that several countries, in similar financial straits, have decided to increase spending on research, such as the United States, China, Germany, and Sweden. But there was no indication that the United Kingdom would be going down this route. "My preference is to ration research funding by excellence and back research teams of international quality -- and screen out mediocrity -- regardless of where they are and what they do," Cable said.
Other researchers were not impressed. “The UK leads the world in science and engineering, and yet today Dr. Cable had nothing exciting or inspiring to say about government policy in this area," said Imran Khan, director of the Campaign for Science and Engineering. Richard Horton, editor of The Lancet, said: "Any contraction in the UK’s science and higher education budgets will signal a narrowing of this country’s vision for its role in the world, a withdrawal from its current international leadership role in science."
The UK's Society for Editors and Proofreaders (SfEP) has compiled two sets of top tips from its membership, one from the point of view of freelance copy-editors and proofreaders and one from the perspective of project managers and managing editors.
Rooted in years of experience, both sets highlight the things that are important to bear in mind when producing a readable publication without breaking the bank. Together they can provide a better understanding of everyone's roles in editorial projects, and of how they can best work together.
“Most of the two to three million manuscripts submitted to publishers each year, including those that result from Federally funded grants, do not meet publishers’ quality standards on the first pass through the peer review process,” Mr Adler said. “Before they can be validated and disseminated as a journal article, manuscripts must be screened, revised per reviewers’ comments, edited and formatted for hosting and preservation on an electronic platform which allows delivery through multiple distribution channels in paper and digital formats -- all of which requires substantial investment by the publisher,” he continued. “Publishers invest hundreds of millions of dollars every year in the screening, peer review, editing and production of these journal articles. It is unfair for the government to expropriate these private-sector products without compensation and make them available free.”
Meteorologists are meeting this week to hammer out a solution to one of the thorniest problems in climate science: how to make raw climate data freely available to all.
The workshop, to be held in Exeter, UK, on 7-9 September, will be hosted by Britain's Meteorological Office. It follows years of discussion within the climate science community, which wants to draw disparate climate data together into a single, comprehensive repository to streamline research.The effort has been given fresh urgency over the past year by the backlash against climate science that was sparked by the leaking of emails from the Climatic Research Unit (CRU) at the University of East Anglia in Norwich, UK.
Journal articles on hormone replacement therapy (HRT) ghostwritten by medical writers employed by the pharmaceutical industry serially understated the treatment's risks and promoted unapproved uses, according to an analysis of industry documents.
The analysis, published in the journal PLoS Medicine, is based on some 1,500 emails, contracts and other documents made public in July 2009, after the New York Times and PLoS Medicine successfully argued that their release would be in the public interest. Many thousands more papers remain sealed as part of ongoing lawsuits brought by more than 14,000 women against the drug maker Wyeth, which was bought last year by the pharmaceutical giant Pfizer, based in New York.
On 21 August 2010 JSTOR released a new interface. One feature, the ability for any user to submit a search against all JSTOR content, drew strong reactions from many in the library community. Their key concern was that JSTOR users at participating institutions with a subset of JSTOR collections could get search results pointing to content they could not access, and that JSTOR had not yet enabled OpenURL for all articles. This could make it difficult for libraries to redirect users to other copies of the articles that might be available to them.
The European Network of Centres for Pharmacoepidemiology and Pharmacovigilance (ENCePP) of the European Medicine Agency has developed a Code of Conduct for scientific independence and transparency in the conduct of pharmacoepidemiological and pharmacovigilance studies.
The beta version of Multilingual WorldWideScience.org was launched in June in Helsinki, Finland, at the International Council for Scientific and Technical Information (ICSTI) annual conference. It now provides the first-ever real-time searching and translation across globally dispersed, multilingual scientific literature.
Multilingual WorldWideScience.org allows users to conduct a single query of over 70 nationally sponsored scientific databases from around the world. Results from the databases are combined, ranked by relevance, and then translated into the user's preferred language. At the time of the launch, nine languages were available (Chinese, English, French, German, Japanese, Korean, Portuguese, Spanish, and Russian), and more languages will be added in the coming months.
Since its inception in 2007, WorldWideScience.org has grown from searching 12 databases in 10 countries to searching over 70 databases in 66 countries, covering more than 400 million pages of science.
While acknowledging national and cultural differences, delegates at the 2nd World Conference on Research Integrity concluded that all scientists share a set of values that can serve as the foundation for global guidelines that promote research integrity.
The conference, held in Singapore on 21-24 July and co-sponsored by the American Association for the Advancement of Science, will produce a draft statement of international research integrity recommendations for release this autumn.
The final statement will cover a broad range of topics, including peer review, proper credit for publications, and practices to preempt research misconduct. It will also confirm that research integrity is an essential part of science’s service to society.
Wednesday, September 08, 2010
Letters to the editor are an essential part of scientific debate, and they may alert readers to limitations in research papers that have been overlooked by the authors, peer reviewers, and editors. A study of research papers submitted to the BMJ that had been the subject of substantive criticism
shows that authors are reluctant to respond to criticisms of their work, although they are not less likely to respond when criticisms are severe. Editors should ensure that authors take relevant criticism seriously and respond adequately to it.
Academic journals are vital to researchers in all academic disciplines. Computer usage logs give an accurate picture of researchers' online behaviour and show that e-journals are the main means of access. Gateway services are widely used, re-intermediating the link between publisher and reader.
Reporting bias is widespread in the medical literature. Prospective registration of trials and public access to data need to be introduced worldwide, allowing an independent review of research data and ensuring that ethical obligations are met and providing a basis for fully-informed decision making.
Evidence from observational studies has documented the association between social relationships and beneficial effects on health outcomes, such as mortality. A systematic review, published in PLos Medicine in July 2010, retrieved data from a large body of literature and reported that stronger relationships were associated with a 50% increased chance of survival over the course of the studies. Quite remarkably, the degree of mortality associated with lack of social relationships is similar to that existing for more widely publicized risk factors, such as smoking. However, the mechanisms through which social relationships affect health are unclear. This doesn't allow to design effective social interventions at a population level that will result in improved health outcomes.
The growth rate of scientific publication was studied from 1907 to 2007 using available data from a number of literature databases, including Science Citation Index (SCI) and Social Sciences Citation Index (SSCI). Traditional scientific literature (publication in peer-reviewed journals) is still increasing although there are big differences between fields. Important changes in publication methods are happening in present years including open access archives, publications on the net and the increasing role of conference proceedings. But this is only partially reflected in the databases. In particular, the growth rate for SCI is smaller than for comparable databases and its coverage is especially low in some of the scientific areas with the highest growth rate, including computer science and engineering sciences. It is then problematic that SCI is used as the dominant source for science indicators based on publication and citation numbers.
Purpose of this paper is to introduce a terminology quality improvement (TQI) model formulated through a synthesis of the literature and validated using a case study with the International Classification for Nursing Practice (ICNP). A TQI model or framework would be useful for various stakeholders to guide terminology selection, to assess the quality of healthcare terminologies and to make improvements according to an agreed standard. The TQI model encompasses structure, process, and outcome components in relation to a terminology life cycle: change request, editing, and publication. Discussion about the applicability of the model and concluding remarks also are presented.
Friday, September 03, 2010
A research conducted by Gregory Webster, a psychologist at the University of Florida in Gainesville (USA), suggests that scientists who reference the work of their peers are more likely to find their own work referenced in turn. His latest study gathered data from the Web of Science database for all 53,894 articles and review articles published in the journal Science between 1901 and 2000. Contrary to what could be predicted, review articles showed less of a relationship between citations and references than standard articles. According to other experts, these results should be interpreted with caution calso onsidering that different subjects have different citation patterns.
An analysis of sources containing advices on how to write abstracts for the PhD. Advices could not be appropriate for every situation. For these reasons, students should check their institution's regulations, examine the abstracts written for previous theses in their departments, and consult with their supervisor(s) about what is required. Even if only one structured abstract is cited, headings under which an abstract can be structured are suggested.
Thursday, July 22, 2010
Worldwide, about 50% of students starting medical school are female but a much lower proportion reach leading positions. Looking at manuscripts submitted to the journal Wiener Klinische Wochenschrift from 2002 to 2007, the number of female authors increased to 30% by 2007 (up to 50% in some specialties). However, review papers or invited editorials are rarely authored by female researchers. Furthermore, a small percentage of peer reviewers are female although the quality of their reviews is generally better. Medical journals should play their part in eliminating these gender inequalities.
Ensuring that clinical trials proceed rationally and without sensationalism will help to better determine the risk and benefits of the therapy under investigation. There needs to be trust and transparency between the scientific community and industry, and an effective data safety monitoring board to avoid bias and allow trials to reach their full potential.
Tuesday, July 20, 2010
The existence and impact of publication bias in laboratory sciences was explored using the CAMARADES (Collaborative Approach to Meta-analysis and Review of Animal Data in Experimental Studies) database to find systematic reviews of animal studies of acute ischaemic stroke. Only 10 of the 525 publications identified reported no significant effects on infarct volume, and only 6 did not report at least one significant finding. Statistical analysis suggested that publication bias might account for about one-third of the efficacy reported in systematic reviews. It is estimated that over 200 experiments have been conducted in this field but not reported.
Thursday, July 15, 2010
Wednesday, July 14, 2010
Published acknowledgements of scientific misconduct can be sincere or ritualistic. By comparing published retractions and letters of apology with the letters that charge misconduct, it's possible to assess whether the apology was sincere or ritualistic. Although most published acknowledgements of misconduct do use language strategically to minimise culpability, they often still satisfy to some degree the concerns raised.
Thursday, July 08, 2010
The growing competition culture in academia might conflict with the objectivity and integrity of research, because it forces scientists to produce "publishable" results at all costs. Papers are less likely to be published and to be cited if they report "negative" results. Therefore, if publication pressures increase scientific bias, the frequency of "positive" results in the literature should be higher in the more competitive and "productive" academic environments. This study verified this hypothesis by measuring the frequency of positive results in a large random sample of papers in all disciplines with a corresponding author based in a US state. These conclusions could apply to all scientifically advanced countries.
It is important for scientists and journalists to bridge the communication divide that exists between them. Scientists should know how to communicate their latest findings through the appropriate channels. Reducing years of research into a headline can be extremely difficult and certainly doesn't come naturally to every scientist. This article offers practical tips for any scientist looking to work with the media to communicate his findings. In doing so, scientists will not only be able to assist the public in making better informed decisions about their healthcare, but also personally benefit from increased funding, enhanced career opportunities and stimulate the "cross-fertilization" of their research and ideas across broad disciplines. A recent study showed that medical articles reported in The New England Journal of Medicine and then reported in The New York Times receive about 73 percent more citations than articles not reported in The New York Times.
The authors of this article believe that nowadays the quality of reporting in most health care journals is inadequate. Many publications lack clarity, transparency, and completeness in how the authors actually carried out their research. Use of reporting guidelines is associated with improvements in the quality of reporting health research. In this paper guidance on how to develop reporting guidelines is presented. It includes 18-step checklist and could be of help to potential and practicing developers. While some of the items are optional, there is a core set of steps that are necessary to ensure adequate development of a reporting guideline. The checklist will be also available on the EQUATOR Network website. The guidance would help researchers improve their reports, and also be used by peer reviewers and editors to strenghten manuscript review.
Medical ghostwriting, the practice of pharmaceutical companies secretly authoring journal articles published under the byline of academic researchers, is a threat to public health. In 2009 the Institute of Medicine recommended the US-based academic medical centers enact policies that prohibit ghostwriting by their faculties. Authors found that few medical centers have such public policies, and many of the existing policies are ambiguous or ill-defined. An unambiguous policy is then proposed, which defines participating in medical ghostwriting as academic misconduct akin to plagiarism or falsifying data.
Wednesday, July 07, 2010
A monographic issue of The Write Stuff (TWS), journal of the European Medical Writers Association (EMWA) dedicated to the business theme in the field of medical writing, interesting for both editors and publishers. Two articles tackle an important question for the future of medical writing: whether medical writing activities add value that can be seen as a tangible investment, also in term of Return on Investment (ROI) (p. 96-100). The issue also contains a small collection of “acquiring-knowledge-to-help-you-in-business” articles: one of them overviews the broader and key aspects of publications management within organisations that produce a large number of publications, and compares two electronic tracking programmes for managing publications with a view to keep compliant with Good Publication Practice guidelines (GPP2) (p. 105-9). An article, the first of a new series, gives some guidance on word order in written English, of invaluable help to the non-native speakers of English; word order is rarely written about and is generally poorly understood, even by the natives (p. 124-7). An article reports a controversial case of plagiarism (p. 122-3) and another one reports discussion on copyright at EMWA ‘s 29th Conference (November 2009, Frankfurt) (p. 150-1). The theme of another interesting article is the topic based writing – a new approach of thinking, in which information is structured in a modular way instead of a linear way being each document broken down into small bits of information which are called topics (p. 152).
Tuesday, July 06, 2010
The number of review articles and review journals has grown over the last decade. While they are clearly useful for both scientists and publishers, the relatively high citations for some reviews indicates that they are increasingly being cited in place of primary sources, either because a review conveniently summarises multiple primary sources or because the primary source is overlooked.
Friday, July 02, 2010
Asymmetry in the funnel plot for a meta-analysis suggests dissemination bias, perhaps caused by publication bias or selective reporting by authors. Studies with statistically significant results or larger effect sizes are more likely to be published, giving a biased picture of the evidence. Considering a realistic scenario in which multiple processes, involving both authors and journals, statistical methods can be used look for potential effects of multiple biases in meta-analysis.
A survey published in PLoS ONE found that 1 in 5 research papers published in 2008 are currently available free online. Researchers at the Hanken School of Economics in Helsinki, Finland, checked the availability of 1837 randomly selected articles from the Scopus database (http://info.scopus.com). They found that 8.5% were freely available on the publishers' websites, with a further 11.9 percent available on authors' websites or in repositories. Earth sciences had the highest proportion of open-access (OA) articles (33%), while chemistry had the lowest (13%). In life sciences, most OA articles were 'gold' (free at publishers' websites), while in other disciplines, most OA articles were green (only available on authors' websites or in repositories).
Friday, June 18, 2010
Many peer-reviewed journals require that their authors be prepared to share their raw, unprocessed data with other scientists and/or state the availability of raw data in published articles. A practical guide is provided for those involved in the publication process, by proposing a minimum standard for anonymising datasets for the purpose of publication in a peer-reviewed journal or sharing with other researchers. Basic advice on file preparation is provided along with procedural guidance on prospective and retrospective publication of raw data, with an emphasis on randomised controlled trials.
The paper aims to bring together information on whether any evidence exists of a commercial conflict between the creation of digital archives (institutional repositories, IRs) at reasearch institutions and centres of excellence, and the business of journal publishing. Relevant publications were analyzed to determine it. One significant study is being undertaken by the PEER group, funded by the Europen Commission. It is still too early to say when open access and IRs in particular will erode into the journal subscription base and transform scholarly communications. Up today the relationship between IRs and journal subscriptions is too vague.
Wednesday, June 16, 2010
Journals such as Science occupy a special place in the maintenance of scientific standards to help make science as productive as possible in serving both scientists and the greater society. As a start, two critical authorship issued were considered. First, to discourage "honorary authorship", according to Science policy, each author is required, before acceptance, to identify his/her contribution to the research. Second, Science will require that the senior author for each laboratory or group confirm that he or she has personally reviewed the original data generated by that unit, ascertaining that the data selected for publication in specific figures and tables have been appropriately presented. In this way, Science aims to identify few senior authors - instead of a single author - who take responsibility for the data presented in each publication.
Relationships among journal reputation, rejection rate, number of submissions received and time from submission to acceptance in 22 ecology/interdisciplinary journals are analyzed. Results show that higher impact factor is positively associated with the number of submissions and that rejection rates are remarkably high and tend to increase with increasing impact factor and with number of submissions. Plausible causes and consequences of these relationships for journals, authors and peer reviewers are discussed.
Five hundred manuscripts submitted to Monthly Weather Review in the years 2007-2008 were examined to investigate whether the number of reviewers used by an editor affects the rate at which manuscripts are rejected. Rejection rates were not significantly different whether two or three reviewers were used. By means of a simple model, designed for three decision-making strategies for editors, it is demonstrated that, for this dataset, editors are likely to reject a manuscript when any reviewer recommends rejection.
Tuesday, June 15, 2010
Biomedical reserach continues to use many more male subjects than females in both animal studies and human clinical trials. As a consequence, medicine as it is currently applied to women is less evidence-based than that being applied to men. Some steps can be taken to address this problem. Journals can insist that authors document the sex of animals in published papers and the Nature journals are at present considering whether to require the inclusion of such information.
Open access combined with 2.0 tools is fast changing the traditional journal's functions and the publisher's role. The journal is no longer the main referring unit for scholarly output, as it used to be, for scientific, technical an medical disciplines. New experimental journal models are thus evolving, i.e. overlay journals, interjournals and different levels journals. The publishers should concentrate much more on value-added services for authors, readers and libraries, such as navigational services, discovery services, archiving and evaluation services.
Tuesday, June 08, 2010
Thanks to Margaret Cooter
Monday, May 31, 2010
The impact of open access initiatives on biomedical scientific publishing and scholarly communication in Greece are examined. Findings are preliminary as they come from a longitudinal study that uses bibliometrics, questionnaire surveys and interviews to examine knowledge, awareness and attitudes towards open access. The bibliometric research indicates that Greek biomedical publications are increasing, but that coverage of Greek medical journals in databases as MEDLINE is decreasing.
Thirty-two high impact journal articles, published in the period 1994-2004 and influential to scholarly communication in library and information sciences (LIS), are identified and examined. In particular, journal distributions, major subject themes, and general authorship characteristics of these articles are discussed and compared to the majority of scholarly articles published in LIS during the same time period.
Thanks to Margaret Cooter
Thursday, May 27, 2010
The hypothesis of a Hierarchy of the Sciences with physical sciences at the top, social sciences at the bottom, and biological sciences in-between is nearly 200 years old. Whether disciplines really differ in hardness and can be ranked accordingly, however, is still controversial. Does a Hierarchy of Sciences exist? This study compared 2,434 scientific papers published in all disciplines and that stated to have tested a hypothesis and adopted the hypotetico-deductive method of scientific inquiry. Results support, on one hand, the existence of a Hierarchy , in which scientific rigour and objectivity are roughly inversely proportional to the complexity of the subject matter. On the other hand, results also support the scientific status of the social sciences: when they adopt a scientific approach to discovery, they differ from the natural sciences only by a matter of degree.
The relation between reviewers' publication recommendations and editors' decisions over a five-year period (2004-2008) at the Journal of General Internal Medicine was examined. Among the 2,264 manuscripts sent out for external peer review, just under half received reviews that were in complete agreement not to reject, less than 10% received reviews that were in complete agreement to reject. Reliability of reviewer recommedations at JGIM is low. Yet JGIM editor's decisions appeared to be significantly influenced by reviewers' recommendations. Efforts are needed to improve the reliability of the peer-review process while helping editors understand the limitations of reviewers' recommendations.
Tuesday, May 25, 2010
Thanks to Margaret Cooter
Scientific productivity is a key factor in granting funding for projects. In the majority of cases, productivity indicators are based on data extracted from the Institute for Scientific Information (ISI) database. The paper describes and classifies the most relevant indicators for measuring the output, productivity and impact of researchers' performance. In particular, it describes the advantages and disadvantages of: journal impact factor (IF), papers IF, weighted IF, accumulated IF, author IF, immedicacy index, h index and many others. The paper gives also some advices regarding the use of different indexes.
Science has long been married to mathematics and mathematical methods have been secured science's fidelity to fact and given reliability to findings. Then science was seduced by statistics. The author says that even when performed correctly, statistical tests are widely misunderstood and frequently misinterpreted. The standard statistical system for drawing conclusions is, in essence, illogical. Staticians themselves caution against mistaking statistical significance for practical importance, but scientific papers commit that error often.
The multicultural membership of EASE might be interested in national stereotyping present in the language learning materials prepared by the US Foreign Service Institute. Swedish nationals are depicted as cartoon vikings. Native Americans only appear in full traditional headdress. The countries that comprise the African francophonie are described primarily in terms of natural resources on offer. And it would be generous to say that the portrayal of Belgium is odd, says blogger Chasing Dragons (http://tinyurl.com/29wphtu). He wonders if the stereotypes are consistent in other language-learning materials, or if they have become more subtle over time. Materials that are in the public domain are available at http://www.fsi-language-courses.org/Content.php
Thanks to Margaret Cooter
The Open University and its partners have developed a free, open source software - MyReferences - to help students and universities manage academic references more easily. It is part of the Technology Enhanced Learning supporting students to achieve Academic Rigour (TELSTAR) project. Any institution can download it, customise it to their own needs and integrate it into their own learning environments. This resource takes the usability of available tools a step further by integrating them into online courses so the materials students commonly need to reference are already available in the format they need. Students simply select the sources they need to reference, the referencing style their institution requires, and then copy and paste the result into their assignment. How will students ever learn to comply with journal guidelines?
Thanks to Margaret Cooter
Thanks to Margaret Cooter
"Who is responsible for the fraudulent data making its way into publication?" - asked the editor of Endocrinology - as a paper published in his journal was being retracted due to fraud. The allegations that led to action by the US Office of Research Integrity did not come from the editors or the Editor-in-Chief of the journal, nor from its reviewers or readers. If a researcher simply changed a value or two in a spreadsheet, there might be no sign visible to the head of the laboratory, collaborators, the journal reviewers or the editors; discovering the fraud depends on replication of the study. But another type of fraud, plagiarism, gets uncovered. The digitalization of science has made some types of fraud easier to perpetrate, but only marginally. Scientists who commit fraud believe they will get away with it, and some do, in the short term. Everyone must be vigilant; when data are suspect, they must be investigated by the appropriate body and not swept under the rug. “The system works, but sometimes too slowly,” he says.
Thanks to Margaret Cooter
Friday, May 21, 2010
A comparison of journals' conflict-of-interest (COI) policies can provide insight into published reports of low compliance rates and inconsistencies in disclosures by the same author in different journals. COI policies of 227 medical and toxicology journals were examined for competing interest criteria, types of submissions covered, monetary or time thresholds for reporting, and penalties for violations. About 85% of journals had written policies, but for more than 75% of these, the level of specificity was minimal or nonexistent, and more than 80% had minimal or narrow scope. Overall, non-specificity, high author discretion, and limited scope were prevalent in these journals.
A random sample of 399 journals were contacted, asking for details of policies on research misconduct. Of the 197 journals that responded, 55% had a policy, but most policies didn't define misconduct and most weren't created by the journal. The existence of a misconduct policy was slightly positively associated with the journal impact factor.
Thursday, May 20, 2010
'E-publication bias' is identified in this small study of articles published in Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases. The research suggests that author-paid open access publishing preferentially increases accessibility to industry-funded research, perhaps favouring distribution of pro-industry results.
Sunday, May 02, 2010
B- Roundtable participants find near-consensus on free access to results of publicly funded research
The premise of Harold Varmus for free online access to all published NIH work is very simple: taxpayers are not supposed to pay to “to see the results of the research that they paid for” in the first place. After ten years of pressure, thanks to a Congress mandate since mid 2008 all the article by NIH can be freely accessed on PubMed Central Archive - however, after a year of publication. Not all agencies complied due to the fact that there is less interest in non-health related issues. Recently the President Obama himself pushed the agencies to “take extraordinary steps to open their data … to public scrutiny”. However, the Office of Science and Technology Policy of the White House that required all federal agencies to provide free access to scholarly articles they fund and the Panel set up for this purpose - u can find the “Report and Recommendations from the Scholarly Publishing Roundtable at: http://democrats.science.house.gov/Media/file/Reports/Additional%20Reports/Scholarly_Publishing_Roundtable_Report_and_Recommendations_1.13.10.pdf (made up of librarians, university administrators, academic researchers and publishers;) following the response given to the issue, will have to find a sort of compromise legislation to build a bridge that suits the need of publishers, universities and the public alike.
Many journals require authors to make their raw, unprocessed data available to other scientists, but there is little information on how this data should be prepared for publication and sharing. In clinical research patient privacy and consent for use of personal health information are key considerations, but there are no agreed-upon definitions of anonymised patient information. In this article, the authors propose a minimum standard for de-identifying datasets for the purposes of publication in a peer-reviewed biomedical journal, or for sharing with other researchers. Basic advice on file preparation is provided along with procedural guidance on prospective and retrospective publication of raw data, with an emphasis on randomised controlled trials.
Saturday, May 01, 2010
Publication bias compromises evidence-based practice. This study looked for publication bias in 53 published controlled trials in leading oral and maxillofacial surgery journals. Journals preferentially published controlled trials with a positive outcome (77%) and from high-income countries (74%). Single-centred trials with low sample size were published more frequently. Results suggest the possible existence of publication bias in the oral and maxillofocial surgery literature. Journals in this field should establish measures to eliminate publication bias. This was an observational study of published articles; an analysis of all submitted manuscripts would provide more accurate data.
Friday, April 23, 2010
This study analyzes the peer review comments of articles written by Italian medical and clinical research scientists and submitted to reputable English language journals. It is aimed at establishing the most frequent types of comments to identify the most frequent linguistic problems by Italian researchers. Comments were mainly in the area of scientific and methodological content, followed by lexical and grammatical errors, clarity and verbosity or repetition. The ability to describe procedures and to express concepts clearly is of prime importance to peer reviewers. Results of the study can be helpful in the preparation of courses or materials for training future researchers, and to improve authors' chances of publishing in high impact-factor journals.
Reformers need to keep up the pressure to reform English libel laws, says an editorial in Nature (22 April 2010, doi:10.1038/4641104a). Simon Singh's recent libel result is a victory for science, and the court's judgment itself may offer wider protection to scientists and writers (see http://go.nature.com/EQFfg3). But the real fight lies ahead, and the use of English libel law to stifle debate should concern all researchers. For every case that comes to court, say campaigners for reform, there are many more in which scientists who lack the resources to fight just quietly back down, or worse, censor themselves even before publishing.
Thanks to Margaret Cooker
posted by Bob Grant
A review paper was retracted from Nature Reviews Genetics because the author modified a paragraph from a manuscript she was peer reviewing for the journal Plant Science and inserted into her own. The author told that the mistake was not intentional and partly caused by a medical condition that affected her memory and cognition. The retraction was the first ever made from any of the 15 Nature Reviews journals published by Nature Publishing Group.
Editors'comments are reported as well as the original and the paraphrased paragraphs.
By the end of 2009 the library marketplace was in a weakened situation with prospects of a long recovery. Libraries may not see a “return to normal” once the economy improves. Evidence suggests instead a search for a “new normal,” one that requires varied approaches to services and collections. The delivery of information might become more important than ownership. Open access business models might become more attractive to avoid the costly venues of commercial publishers. Much of the data reported in the article outlines the issues that are shaping the journals marketplace. Some publishers froze 2010 prices at 2009 levels, others froze 2010 prices only for the elctronic format. Twenty-five percent of academic publishers reported 1% to 5% decline in orders, in particular in print ones; the already rapid move from print journals to online accelerated; the open access initiatives had only a modest effect on the publishing industry.
Tuesday, April 20, 2010
Tuesday, March 30, 2010
Nature provides some insights into its paper selection process, and debunks three myths about the process: (1) editors seek to boost the impact factor by selecting papers likely to have a high citation rate; (2) one negative referee will determine the fate of a submitted paper; (3) there is reliance on a small number of privileged reviewers.
Monday, March 29, 2010
While the ICMJE uniform requirements for disclosure of competing interests are welcome, all journals still rely on authors to disclose all information that may be perceived as relevant. If an individual does not wish to disclose information, there is no universal form that will avoid this problem. Journals can experience harsh criticism if an author is discovered not to have disclosed competing interest, but how do journals police this? Disclosure forms also do not prevent scientific fraud. The best deterrent to fraud is the scientific process itself.
The widespread belief that medical research studies need a statistical power of at least 80% to be scientifically sound is a seriously flawed requirement. Standard calculations are unreliable, and move focus away from studies' more important results: estimates and confidence intervals. Current conventions may harm the research process in many way, including promoting misinterpretation, giving reviewers inappropriate powers, and inhibiting innovation. Medical research would benefit from alternative approaches. Peer reviewers should consider whether or not to raise issues of "inadequate" sample size, and reports of completed studies should not discuss power.
Friday, March 19, 2010
Journal editors should consider retracting a publication if the findings are unreliable (due to misconduct or honest error), inappropriately duplicated, plagiarised, or based from unethical research. In cases of inconclusive evidence, non-co-operation of institutions, inability to conduct a fair investigation, or a delayed judgement, journal editors should consider issuing an expression of concern. Retractions are not usually necessary in cases of authorship changes or if small portions of the publication need correction. These guidelines also discuss the form, instigation, and timing of the retraction, and possible legal ramifications.
Wednesday, March 10, 2010
Ghostwriting can no more be defined as the “dirty little secret” of the medical literature. Over the past several years medical writers, journals and editors’ associations (i.e. ICMJE and WAME) have highlighted the problem, developing a specific policy on ghostwriting and requiring contributorship statements for authors.
But what has been done by medical centers and associations? In this article, Larcasse and Leo evaluated the policies of the top-50 academic medical centers in the United States, finding that only 20% explicitly prohibit ghostwriting. The Authors propose an unambiguous policy that clearly regulates medical ghostwriting. Administrators of academic medical centers should insist on this point, and should define medical ghostwriting as dishonest, unacceptable, and comparable to misconduct.
By prohibiting ghostwriting, academic medical centers can cooperate with editors and publishers in improving research integrity.
While the use of publication and citation indicators increases, their application is controversial. Researchers perceive citations as part of the reward system of science but on the other hand they criticize them for not reflecting actual scientific contribution. Viewpoints present in the Norwegian scientific community were investigated by means of a questionnaire survey. Respondents' answers and comments related to their perceptions of citations and role of citations offered an informal sociology of citations. Even scientists who have produced higly cited papers doubt about the fairness of citations as performance measures. More information on the so-called "citation myths" should be given to the scientific community.
Tuesday, March 09, 2010
The peer review process is a cornerstone of the scientific publication process. Fourteen stem cell editors recently signed an open letter expressing concerns over the confidential peer review process and suggesting the publication of reviewers' comments. A common fear among authors is that rival scientists could make unreasonable demands to intentionally delay or reject the publication of truly original findings. The peer review process might be improved and properly managed, but it is not clear whether publishing reviewers' comments would be the solution. In confidential peer review conflicts of interest should be recognized and additional expertise could be asked to evaluate disputed aspects of a manuscript.
Monday, March 08, 2010
Much has been written about drug company payments to researchers, but conflicts of interest (COIs) are also an issue for publishers, editors, reviewers, and authors. COIs are not limited to financial aspects, but cover other aspects of human behaviour, and therefore pervade every aspect of publishing. There is no entirely satisfactory way of dealing with COIs, but researchers should be aware of the issues.