Wednesday, February 24, 2010
STM publisher Elsevier, Netherlands, has announced that it will publicly share its internal custom publication guidelines. The global publisher seeks to provide scientific and medical communities, insight into a new and practical set of publishing standards for producing custom and sponsored publications. The new guidelines were first developed in June 2009 and updated in December 2009 following a comprehensive internal review of custom publications practices within Elsevier.
The review was initiated when it was revealed that two Elsevier publications from 2003, presented as an unbiased journal, were in fact sponsored publications lacking adequate disclosures. The Australasian Journal of Bone and Joint Medicine published reprinted original, peer-reviewed research articles, and other summarised articles, conference reviews and news clips and was single-sponsored by a global pharmaceutical company. Contrary to the high standards that Elsevier sets for itself, the employees responsible did not make the sponsorship sufficiently clear to its potential readers.
The guidelines cover the necessity for full disclosure of funding and the origin of content and provide guidance on obtaining permission for the use of content. The guidelines also point employees to best practices for medical publications from the International Committee of Medical Journal Editors (ICMJE), the Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE) and the Institute of Medicine.
Publishing units will consider in their approval processes, whether a custom publication is consistent with Elsevier’s historical standard for world-class content and if appropriate disclosures are made. They also need to follow the established record retention policy to ensure the company maintains an archive of all custom products produced. Affected employees have confirmed receipt of the guidelines and attended presentations on implementation. Elsevier management will continue to monitor and assess adherence to the guidelines and standards by all its business units globally.
Thanks to Emma Campbell
Tuesday, February 23, 2010
Studies of systems models and biomarkers both present large amounts of information to publishers and readers. To aid review and readability, such studies should propose explicit hypotheses and demonstrate exclusion of competing explanations. To distinguish the direct influence of the research independently of the publications that describe it, hypotheses and experiments would be coded and separately cited. A study providing strong inferences will be both well used and highly cited.
A good editor will publish articles that will upset some readers or institutions. But if the level of upset prompts legal action, the journal is exposed to a substantial financial risk. This knowledge inevitably complicates editorial decisions. The only way a journal can fight legal action is by relying on its insurance policy, but insurers require that potential risk identified by the libel lawyers is eliminated. In the UK, it is easy to launch a libel action; the burden of proof is on the defendant. The resulting fear of libel is killing scientific debate in medical journals.
Monday, February 22, 2010
Standards and good practice guidelines provide criteria for maintaining quality and integrity in science. This paper shows that most scientific papers and researchers' writing practices provide evidence that they do not conform to quality criteria. A majority of researchers tend to ignore them and to conform to the model that circulates within their communities. The review process obviously does not play its role in maintaining quality and integrity of the sources. Then both researchers and reviewers of scientific papers are responsible for quality in the first place. As solution, the whole system of science communication must be reconsidered.
The editor of the Guardian style guide on ... playing doctors and doctresse
By David Marsh
Hell hath no fury like a man scorned, as the proverb doesn't go (but perhaps should). A monstrous regiment of men has taken exception to the Guardian's policy of calling female actors just that – actors – rather than "actresses".
Impact factors for statistics journals are low compared with those in other disciplines. In 2008, the Thomson Institute for Scientific Information introduced the 5-year impact factor (IF5), that uses the 5-year window instead of the traditional 2-year window (IF2). After having investigated the differences in both impact factors calculations between statistics journals and journals in other disciplines, the results show that statistics journals are among the categories that show a substantial increase in impact factor when moving from IF2 to IF5. This increase is observed in most disciplines but it is quite strong for the statistics discipline. When comparing Science and Social Science, the new impact factor calculation appears to benefit Social Sciences most.
Friday, February 19, 2010
AIP/UniPHY (American Institute of Physics). The full list is at http://www.proseawards.com/current-winners.html
Thanks to Margaret Cooter
Second in a series of five interviews with authors who write science books, Carl Zimmer - with his eight popular-science books - describes how passion has been breeding his popular success. He chooses subjects that other people have not written about but also something that he is fascinated by. A scientist, who wants to write a book, has to work at night and drop out of teaching for a while so he should love the subject of the book. As for the editing process, he outlines that a lot of editors do not put much work into the editing process and sometimes authors have to hire freelance editors to get the guidance they need.
Many journals and funding bodies require researchers to make their raw data available, but there is a need for guidance on data sharing in clinical medicine. For any data relating to individuals, risks to patient confidentiality and anonymity should be minimised, and, where possible, consent should be sought from participants. Direct identifiers should not be included in the data, and if three or more indirect identifiers (e.g., age, sex) are included, the data should be reviewed by an independent researcher or ethics committee before submission for publication.
An interview to Peter Atkins, who wrote the classic textbook Physical Chemistry, first published in 1978. It is the first of five interviews with authors of science books. According to Atkins, the author of a good science textbook should imagine himself as a student and capture a mode of thinking. He also explains how the rewards for textbooks can be considerable, and not only economical. The intellectual rewards are also great: there are real pleasures in knowing one person is helping to mould people's attitudes.
Thursday, February 18, 2010
B - Are you an honest scientist? Truthfulness in science should be an iron law, not a vague aspiration
In the last 20 years there has been a progressive decline in the honesty of scientific communications. In science truth should be the primary value, and truthfulness the core evaluation. Everyone should be honest at all times and about everything, but especially scientists. On the contrary, the activity stops being science and becomes something else: Zombie science, a science that is dead but it is artificially kept moving by a continuous infusion of funding. Many are the causes of dishonesty in science, for example scientists may be subjected to such pressure that they are forced to be dishonest. The corruption of science has been amplified by the replacement of "peer usage" with "peer review" as the major mechanism of scientific evaluation, thus creating space into which dishonesty has expanded. The hope is in an ethical revolution capable of re-establishing the primary purpose of science: the pursuit of truth.
Monday, February 15, 2010
History of bibliometrics is presented and description of the most widely known method, citation analysis, is described. Impact factors have today a powerful influence in the publishing of scientific research articles. As impact factor calculation is based on citation counts, citations have now risen to become a sort of "currency". There is an increasing tendency for authors to cite their peers whenever possible, and thus increase the chances of their articles being accepted. It is the phenomenon called the "impact factor game". A balance between the science and the art is called in physical therapy journals: impact factors contain various intrinsic limitations, they tell just one part of the story and in the future alternative measures, such as article download counts and internet-based journal sessions, should be developed.
Wednesday, February 10, 2010
Research involving human subjects and including identifiable human material and data (images, photographs, names, initials, hospital numbers) should comply with the ethical standards of the Declaration of Helsinki. Editors have the responsibility to ensure that research articles submitted for publication meet these standards. No information should be included in written descriptions unless it is essential for scientific purposes and written informed consent has been obtained. Research misconduct is another serious problem: it includes fabrication, falsification, unethical experimentation and plagiarism. They are not always easy to detect despite the peer-review process.
B - The development of a ranking tool for refereed journals in which nursing and midwifery researchers publish their work
Publication in quality journals has long been a criterion for measuring academic performance. For some time the primary tools for assessing "journal quality" have been the ISI Journal Citation Reports and the Journal Impact Factor (JIFs). The paper describes a new tool, the Journal Evaluation Tool (JET), that may overcome some problems associated with the sole use of the JIFs and may be utilised as an alternative measure of journal quality.
In social sciences authors, reviewers and editors adopted the criterion that a quality researcher publishes in quality journals. This paper considers what is the purpose of publishing in academic journals and what are the motivations of the above mentioned parties. It includes a survey of the suggestions that have been made to improve the publishing process considering that purpose of publishing is above all that of communicating important results to inform public debate on major issues.
Starting from an historical perspective, ethical issues in publishing are discussed and technical suggestions on how to get the final draft accepted for publication are outlined.
The rejection of a manuscript is a frustrating experience and is mostly due to poor experimental design, failure to conform to the target journal, methods not described in detail, confusing presentation of tables and figures, conclusions not supported by data, etc. Reasons for rejection are listed and described in detail.
Editors at Acta Crystallographica Section E alerted the scientific community to a fraud involving papers they had published in 2007. It is surprising that wrongdoing evaded detection during the peer-review process and that the truth was discovered very slowly. The China's Government controls almost all funding for research and authors need to publish as many papers in high i,pact journals as possible. China must assume stronger leadership in scientific integrity, developing standards for teaching research ethics and for the conduct of research itself.
Wednesday, February 03, 2010
Pierre-Leon T. De Sciences à l'ècole
Given the fact that science education in primary schools is lacking, (although a French article this statement would easily apply to other countries) is lacking in the general population attitude of thinking as well as in the work force: the target of the teaching method in this article - intentionally repeated at the beginning of the description of each and almost every module - is to build in 5 to 12 years old students, a scientific mind. Very fascinating and at the same time a very involving teaching procedure illustrated in 15 modules each focusing on specific subjects (magical thinking, rational thought, validation of scientific affirmation, daily lives solving techniques, living organisms, earth, moon, the universe etc.) that, however, will required skilled teachers.
Tuesday, February 02, 2010
It is well known that most medical journals rely on pharmaceutical advertising for part of their revenue. To provide adequate information for an appropriate prescription, drugs advertising should include a minimum set of information, i.e. an evidence-based description of both benefits and risks.
Heimans et al studied to what extent randomised trials support the claims of advertisements in leading general medical journals (from BMJ to N Eng J Med, from JAMA to Lancet). The study highlights that a balanced information may be missing, claims made in advertisements may not be evidence-based, and RCTs used to support claims may have been sponsored by pharmaceutical industry itself. The results of this study underline that a regulatory code for advertising in medical journal is needed. What could be the role of journal editors in this process? Do they (or are they allowed to) review advertisements provided by the industry before their appearance in the journals?