Friday, September 30, 2011

B - Do we need eMinence-based bioethics?

Petrini C. Pardon my asking: do we need eMinence-based bioethics? Annali dell'Istituto Superiore di Sanità 2011;47(3):243-244
(doi: 10.4415/ANN_ 11_03_01)

What kind of ethics is useful for researchers? Nowadays the proliferation of bioethic experts and the success of practical guidelines are a fact from which the author of this editorial draws the following conclusions: people find bioethics and guidelines helpful; expertise in ethics is most of all a matter of correct or true judgment; and experts should be able to communicate.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

B - Impact of conflicts of interest on perceived credibility of research

Lacasse JR, Leo J. Knowledge of ghostwriting anf financial conflicts-of-interest reduces the perceived credibility of biomedical research. BMC Research Notes 2011;4:27
(doi: 10.1186/1756-0500-4-27)

This study provides information on how practicing clinicians perceive research in which multiple conflicts of interest (COI) are disclosed. The authors developed two research vignettes presenting a fictional antidepressant medication study, one in which the authors had no COI and another in which there were multiple COI disclosed. Perceived credibility ratings were much lower in the COI group that is, increased disclosure of COI resulted in lower credibility ratings.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

B - Legal remedies for medical ghostwriting

Stern S, Lemmens T. Legal remedies for medical ghostwriting: imposing fraud liability on guest authors of ghostwritten articles. PLoS Med 2011;8(8):e1001070
(doi: 10.1371/journal.pmed.1001070)

The article focuses on ghostwriting and guest authorship in industry-controlled research: several examples have revealed the use of ghostwriters to insert concealed marketing messages favourable to a company's product, and the recruitment of academics as "guest" authors despite not fulfilling authorship criteria. Medical journals, academic institutions, and professional disciplinary bodies have thus far failed to enforce effective sanctions. Given this failure, the authors suggest a firm legal response through the imposition of legal liability on guest authorship as fraud.

Thanks to Mariolina Salio

Thursday, September 22, 2011

B - Innovation needs novel thinking

Leshner AI. Innovation needs novel thinking. Science 2011;332(6033):1009
(doi: 10.1126/science.1208330)

Science, technology and innovation are critical drivers of economic growth and national well-being of a country. Investing in them has become a hope for many countries, both rich and poor. But innovation demands that novel ideas are pursued, and to attract them some long-held traditions and modes of operation need to be reexamined. Some issues are highlighted to foster innovation and economic success. Among them, the peer review process, the evaluation timeline and criteria for judging and rewarding performance, the increase in number of young researchers and diversity of scientific human resource pool.

B - Publishing cycle of biomedical journals

Tagler J. Biomedical Publishing 101: an overview from the Chicago Collaborative. The Serials Librarian 2011; 60(1-4):114-123

The challenges and opportunities posed by the migration from print to digital were addressed. The author explored the role of publishers in the scholarly communication process, and the various roles and responsibilities of other different players in the scientific publishing chain.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

B - Statistical and research design problems in psychology journals

Harris A, Reeder R, Hyun J. Survey of editors and reviewers of high-impact psychology journals: statistical and research design problems in submitted manuscripts. The Journal of Psychology 2011;145(3):195-209

The authors surveyed 21 editors and reviewers from major psychology journals to identify and describe the statistical and design errors they encounter most often and to get their advice to prevent them. Three major areas were identified: problems with research design and reporting; inappropriate data analysis; and misinterpretation of results. Researchers should attend to these common issues to improve the scientific quality of their submitted manuscripts.

B - APS redifines length

Sprouse G. Editorial: Redefining length. Physical Review Special Topics-Physics Education Research 2011;7(020001)
(doi: 10.1103/PhysRevSTPER.7.020001)

Authors often work hard to maximize the material presented within the constraints of the printed page, and this leads to frustration especially during the proof stage and, much important, to compromises that can be detrimental to the research itself. The APS Editor in Chief announces that in a effort to streamline the calculation of length, the APS journals will no longer use the printed page as the determining factor for length. Instead the journals will use word counts to determine length. This new method will be easier for authors to calculate in advance, keeping the quality of concise communication that is a virtue of letters and short papers.

Thanks to John Glen

B - Ethics authors don't follow guidelines

Tarnow E. Ethics authors don't follow guidelines. APS News 2011;20(7):4

Ethics training at least in medical publication seems to lead to worse behaviour. Young researchers find out just how they are expected to behave, which turns out to be...unethically.

Thanks to John Glen

B - Online gamers solve a longstanding scientific problem

Khatib F, DiMaio F, Cooper S et al. Crystal structure of a monomeric retroviral protease solved by protein folding game players. Nature Structural & Molecular Biology 2011;online publ. September 18
(doi: 10.1038/nsmb.2119)

Fold.it is a multiplayer online game that allows players worldwide to solve complex protein-structure prediction problems. A 15-year-old AIDS problem was recently solved in just three weeks by a group of online gamers. They created a model of a protein that scientists haven't been able to model themselves, using a game-like structure. This result indicates a high potential for integrating video games into the real-world scientific process and for solving, if properly directed, a wide range of scientific problems.

Thanks to Kate Whittaker

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

B - Retracted science and retracted index

Fang FC, Casadevall A. Retracted science and the retraction index. Infection and Immunity 2011;79(10)
(doi: 10.1128/IAI.05661-11)

Overall, manuscript retraction appears to be occurring more frequently, although it is uncertain whether this is a result of increasing misconduct or simply increasing detection due to enhanced vigilance. The authors developed a novel measure, the "retraction index", by dividing the number of retractions by the total number of articles published by 17 journals ranging in impact factor 2.00 to 53.484 in the years 2001 to 2010. They found that the frequency of retraction varied among journals and showed a strong correlation with the journal impact factor.

B - Can a scientific retraction change public opinion?

Harmon K. Impact factor: can a scientific retraction change public opinion? Scientific American March 4, 2010

The article discusses the effect that scientific retractions have on public opinion. After initial findings are published part of the readers will not change their mind even if the paper is retracted. The paper's influence on the public may last for awhile, despite a growing contrary evidence. The recent retraction of a key paper proposing a link between childhood vaccines and autism has widened the societal divide on this issue. The number of retractions have been increasing but they are just the tip of the iceberg: a study showed that about 2% of scientists admitted to have fabricated, falsified or modified data or results at least once.

Monday, September 19, 2011

B - Quantifying effort in scientific publishing

Winker K. In scientific publishing at the article level, effort matters more than journal impact factors. Bioessays 2011;33(6):400-402
(doi: 10.1002/bies.201100020)

Effort involved in producing a particular paper is difficult to quantify. Neverthanless, it and the number of authors are positively correlated with citation count: working hard and work effectively with others are the most important factors affecting number of citations. According to the author, effort - and how to measure it - should be incorporated into future bibliometric studies. Journal impact factor seems to be rather overrated when applied at an individualistic level, although its social aspects are very important affecting such tangibles as getting a job, a promotion, or a proposal funded

B - The k-index as an antidote against the h-index

Molinié A, Bodenhausen G. The kinship or k-index as an antidote against the toxic effects of h-index. CHEMIA International Journal for Chemistry 2011;65(6):433-436
(doi: 10.2533/chimia.2011.433)

According to the authors, the current fashion of ranking people, papers and journals is anything but harmless. They suggest to measure the "fertility" of individual researchers - with respect to their ability to foster quality - in terms of kinship (the k-index) rather than through personalized indices (the h-index). Scientific production is nourished by the past and is conveyed for the future advancement. A chart of elective kinship, produced through the transmission of scientific theory, methodology, know-how, competence, and even culture, could be then realized.

Thanks to Penny Hubbard

B - Self-citation bias in psychological science

Brysbaert M, Smith S. Self-enhancement in scientific research: the self-citation bias. Psychologica Belgica 2011;5(2):129-137

Self-enhancement and self-citation biases are well-documented phenomena in the social psychology field. The article examines the number of self-citations in articles published by four journals and the reasons why authors cite themselves. References in articles are not always included because they are essential to understand the argument or because they are the best source of information. Sometimes they are included because authors want to promote and praise themselves and their findings. Then, self-citations have more to do with self-promotion than with the advancement of science. It is not clear whether editors should take action about self-citations.

Thanks to James Hartley

B - Communicating uncertainties visually

Spiegelhalter D, Pearson M, Short I. Visualizing uncertainty about the future. Science 2011;333(6048):1393-1400
(doi: 10.1126/science.1191181)

Explanation of uncertainties presents a serious challenge, particularly to an audience with a wide range of scientific and mathematical expertise. In this review current practice for communicating uncertainties by means of graphic visualizations are examined, using examples drawn from sport, weather, climate, health, economics, and politics. The most suitable choice of visualization to illustrate uncertainty depends closely on the objectives of the presenter, the context of communication, and the audience. Useful recommendations are provided, although careful case studies are needed describing the development and evaluation of specific examples in a wide range of contexts.

Friday, September 16, 2011

B - Crafting a revision

Editorial. Crafting a revision. Nature Neuroscience 2011;14:941
(doi: 10.1038/nn0811-941)

A thoughtful revision of a paper based on editorial and referee feedback does improve its quality. The process of revising a paper can sometimes be frustrating for the authors, editors and referees. Authors should be open to referee criticisms and should go through his comments point by point responding constructively and diplomatically to each point. Also noting that a referee has made critical mistakes or has requested unnecessary extensions, nonetheless authors should make any effort to improve the paper. Authors, editors and referees all benefit from a collaborative and collegial peer review process.

B - Evaluation of peer review system

O'Dowd A. Peer review system needs thorough evaluation, MPs hear. BMJ 2011;342:d3046
(doi: 10.1136/bmj.d3046)

The UK parliamentary science and technology committee carried out an inquiry into the peer review process in science. Several medical and scientific journal editors appearing before the committee last May spoke of the many merits of the peer review system, but they raised some concerns about the variability of its quality and a lack of adequate evaluation to confirm its value. They agreed that the process should be improved. Another issue regarded whether the peer review process had a "conservative impact" on science and whether this was problem. The BMJ Group produced a written evidence to the parliamentary inquiry.

Friday, September 09, 2011

B - Reporting guidelines for health research: a review

Moher D, Weeks L, Ocampo M et al. Describing reporting guidelines for health research: a systematic review. Journal of Clinical Epidemiology 2011;64(7):718-742
(doi: 10.1016/j.clinepi.2010.09.013)

This review includes 81 reporting guidelines, most of which have been developed in the last 10 years. Fifty-eight percent of them are classified as new guidance. The authors believe that a more rigorous approach for developing reporting guidelines is needed. The results of the review indicate that guidelines developers provide little information about the guideline development process. Publishing better descriptions on how reporting guidelines were developed will allow potential users to assess the robustness of the provided recommendations. An assessment tool could also be developed to help authors and editors to create and evaluate specific reporting guidelines. Journal editors could be more confident in endorsing reporting guidelines that have followed these approaches.

B - Conflict of interest in oncology

Kesselheim AS, Lee JL, Avorn J et al. Conflict of interest in oncology publications. A survey of disclosure policies and statements. Cancer 2011, epub 29 June
(doi: 10.1002/cncr.26237)

Because eliminating potential conflicts of interest is essentially impossible, nearly all biomedical journals require authors to disclose funding for their work, as well as other relevant relationships that they, their families, or their institutions might hold when an article is submitted for publication. The authors examined the disclosures related to conflict of interest accompanying papers published in major oncology journals to compare the nature of requested information with information provided. This analysis revealed a wide range of disclosure policies and practices: most but not all of the journals required some disclosure of potential conflicts of interest, but related standards and definitions varied considerably.

B - The impact of free access to the scientific literature: a review

Davis PM, Walters WH. The impact of free access to the scientific literature: a review of recent research. Journal of the Medical Library Association 2011;99(3):208-217
(doi: 10.3163/1536-5050.99.3.008)

The paper reviews the recent studies that evaluate the impact of free access (open access) on scholars, clinicians, and the general public in developed and developing countries. The review assesses impact in terms of reading, citation, and related forms of use. Authors consider factors such as journal reputation and the absence of publication fees when submitting their work. In contrast, free access is not a significant factor in their submission decisions. There is clear evidence that free access increases the number of article downloads, although its impact on article citations is not clear. Further research is needed to evaluate the effect of free access on the general public's use of the primary medical literature.

Thursday, September 08, 2011

B - Authorship problems in small medical journals

Marušić A. Problems of editors with authorship in small medical journals. The International Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine 2011;2(3):130-132

Authorship is a serious problem in smaller scientific communities . Many authors do not qualify for the standard authorship criteria set by the ICMJE and some editors as well cannot be familiar with them. Funding from a study carried out by the Croatian Medical Journal (CMJ) showed that contribution declaration forms, that authors fill out and send to journals, are to be considered not reliable as a way of assessing authorship. For this reason the CMJ decided to ask each manuscript author a single open-ended question: "Why do you think you deserve to be the author of this manuscript?" and to publish author's answer to this question without editing.