Thursday, December 29, 2016

B - How scientists use social media

Collins K, Shiffman D, Rock J. How are scientists using social media in the workplace? PLoS ONE 2016;11(10):e0162680
(doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0162680)  

This study investigates how a surveyed sample of 587 scientists from a variety of academic disciplines, but predominantly the academic life sciences, use social media to communicate internally and externally. The results demonstrate that while social media usage has yet to be widely adopted, scientists in a variety of disciplines use these platforms to exchange scientific knowledge, generally via either Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, or blogs. Few believed that Facebook is suitable for science communication to the general public. Similarly, a high percentage of scientists read science blogs, and approximately half had written their own science blog. Many shared science-themed blogs with their professional colleagues and most believed that blogs have a role to play in increasing public understanding of science. Scientists using Twitter appears to be a new movement,

B - Teaching medical ethics

Sokol D. Teaching medical ethics: useful or useless? BMJ 2016;355:i6415
(doi: 10.1136/bmj.i6415)

Probably for the first time in history, UK trained doctors at all levels, and in all specialties, now receive formal ethics training at medical school. Has it made any difference? It is not known whether teaching ethics to medical students makes any long term difference to their clinical practice,  especially if it is delivered in the early years. According to the author, the bulk of this teaching should take place after qualification, in the clinical setting. Before then, most students care about one thing only: passing exams. Yet, the very presence of ethics in the curriculum is important. It sends a message that ethics is an intrinsic and valued part of medical practice.

B - Publication professionals

Carey LC, Stretton S, Kenreigh CA, et al. High nonpublication rate from publication professionals hinders evidence-based publication practices. PeerJ 2016 May 10;4:e2011
(doi: 10.7717/peerj.2011)

Publication professionals, who are not ghostwriters, work with leading medical researchers and funders around the world to plan and prepare thousands of publications each year. Research presented at ISMPP Annual Meetings has rarely been published in peer-reviewed journals. The high rate of nonpublication by publication professionals has now been quantified and is of concern. Publication professionals should do more to contribute to evidence-based publication practices, including, and especially, their own.

B - Effectiveness of graphical abstracts

Pferschy-Wenzig EM, Pferschy U, Wang D, et al. Does a graphical abstract bring more visibility to your paper? Molecules 2016;21(9):pii: E1247
(doi: 10.3390/molecules21091247)

A graphical abstract (GA) represents a piece of artwork intended to summarize the main findings of an article for readers at a single glance. Many publishers currently encourage authors to supplement their articles with GAs, in the hope that it will result in improved overall visibility of the publication. To test this assumption, the authors statistically compared publications with or without GA published in Molecules between March 2014 and March 2015 with regard to several output parameters reflecting visibility. Contrary to their expectations, manuscripts published without GA performed significantly better in terms of PDF downloads, abstract views, and total citations than manuscripts with GA.

B - Authorship policies

Resnik DB, Tyler AM, Black JR, et al. Authorship policies of scientific journals. Journal of Medical Ethics 2016;42(3):199-202
(doi: 10.1136/medethics-2015-103171)

The authors analysed the authorship policies of a random sample of 600 journals from the Journal Citation Reports database. 62.5% of the journals they sampled had an authorship policy. Journals from the biomedical sciences and social sciences/humanities were more likely to have an authorship policy than journals from the physical sciences, engineering or mathematical sciences. A significant finding of the study is that none of the journals with authorship policies addressed the use of equal contribution statements.

B - ResearchGate

Nicholas D, Clark D, Herman E. ResearchGate: reputation uncovered. Learned Publishing 2016;29(3):173-82

ResearchGate (RG) is a scholarly social network possessing, probably, the most comprehensive set of reputational metrics and has the potential to supplant publishers as the prime deliverer of scholarly reputation. This study aims to assess RG's reputational facilities and its conclusions are: RG provides a rich, albeit confusing, amount of reputational data; struggles with the deployment of alternative, engagement metrics, such as Q&A and follower data, which can lead to reputational anomalies; employs usage data in an especially effective manner; and leads the field in the way it engages with the scholar.

B - Where are the data?

Announcement: where are the data? Editorial. Nature 537;138
(doi: 10.1038/537138a)

Starting September 2016, all research papers accepted for publication in Nature and an initial 12 other Nature titles were required to include information on whether and how others can access the underlying data. These data-availability statements should report the availability of the ‘minimal data set’ necessary to interpret, replicate and build on the findings reported in the paper. Where applicable, they should include details about publicly archived data sets that have been analysed or generated during the study. This new policy will be implemented across the diverse range of Nature journals by early 2017.

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

B - Medical gems

De Faoite D. Medical gems. Medical Writing 2016;2

Every discipline employs its own secretive words – jargon that allows initiates to communicate with one another in a way that excludes others. The world of medicine is no exception. The idioms used by doctors and surgeons range from the humorous to terms which seem designed to deliberately obscure the real meaning of the word. Other phrases stand out simply due to the incongruous pairing of everyday words. This article contains some real-life examples of all these because, as you know, sometimes words have two meanings.

B - If I tweet will you cite?

Tonia T, Van Oyen H, Berger A, et al. If I tweet will you cite? The effect of social media exposure of articles on downloads and citations. International Journal of Public Health 2016;61(4):513-20
(doi: 10.1007/s00038-016-0831-y)

The authors investigated whether exposing scientific papers to social media (blog post, Twitter and Facebook) has an effect on article downloads and citations. Social media exposure did not have a significant effect on traditional impact metrics. However, other metrics may measure the added value that social media might offer to a scientific journal, such as wider dissemination.

B - Scientific crowdfunding projects

Schäfer MS, Metag J, Feustle J, et al. Selling science 2.0: what scientific projects receive crowfunding online? Public Understanding of Science Sep 19, 2016;pii: 0963662516668771

Crowdfunding has emerged as an additional source for financing research in recent years. This study identifies and tests explanatory factors influencing the success of scientific crowdfunding projects by drawing on news value theory, the “reputation signaling” approach, and economic theories of online payment. A standardized content analysis of 371 projects on English- and German-language platforms reveals that each theory provides factors influencing crowdfunding success. It shows that projects presented on science-only crowdfunding platforms have a higher success rate. At the same time, projects are more likely to be successful if their presentation includes visualizations and humor
Furthermore, the security of the payment process has a strong influence on crowdfunding success.

B - Updating of systematic reviews

Garner P, Hopewell S, Chandler J, et al. When and how to update systematic reviews: consensus and checklist. BMJ 2016;354:i3507
(doi: 10.1136/bmj.i3507) 

Updating of systematic reviews is generally more efficient than starting all over again when new evidence emerges, but to date there has been no clear guidance on how to do this. The panel for updating guidance for systematic reviews (PUGs) issued this guidance to help authors of systematic reviews, commissioners, and editors decide when to update a systematic review, and then how to go about updating the review.

B - ISMPP Code of Ethics

International Society for Medical Publication Professionals (ISMPP). Code of Ethics for medical research publication. Principles for publication professionals. Nov. 1, 2016

Following the release of the previous ISMPP Code of Ethics in 2011, this 2016 revision advances ethical best practices, engages a broader community, and incorporates pivotal professional guidelines that have been published since 2011 and changes in legal and regulatory requirements. It also provides fundamental resources addressing good publication practice, recommendations regarding data sharing and increased transparency, and recognized guidelines for the ethical reporting of scientific and medical research.

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

B - Using popular culture in science communication

Zehr EP. With great power comes great responsibility - A personal philosophy for communicating science in society. eNeuro 2016;3(5):ENEURO.0200-16.2016
(doi: 10.1523/ENEURO.0200-16.2016) 

Since science continues to influence more and more aspects of daily life and knowledge, there is a parallel need for communication about science in our society. The article is based mostly on the author's own experiences - as a neuroscientist - using popular culture as the link between science and the general public, e.g., using icons in popular culture to serve as vehicles for communicating science. He discusses the middle-ground hypothesis using popular culture for science communication and applying the FUNnel model, where popular culture is used as a lead-in and wrap-up when discussing science.

B - Quantity and/or quality?

Sandström U, van den Besselaar P. Quantity and/or quality? The importance of publishing many papers. PLoS One 2016;11(11):e0166149
(doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0166149)

Do highly productive researchers have significantly higher probability to produce top cited papers? Or do high productive researchers mainly produce a sea of irrelevant papers? This study investigates the relation between productivity and production of highly cited papers. Results show that there is not a strong correlation between productivity (number of papers) and impact (number of citations), that also holds for the production of high impact papers: the more papers, the more high impact papers.

B - Use of stings, hoaxes and irony in scientific publishing

Al-Khatib A, Teixeira da Silva JA. Stings, hoaxes and irony breach the trust inherent in scientific publishing. Publishing Research Quarterly 2016;32(3):208-19

The use of stings, hoaxes and irony in academic journals contributes to the overall level of mistrust and erosion of ethical values in science publishing. The authors focused on six such cases, providing a rationale why such studies undermine trust and integrity and why such bogus publications are best left to blogs or non-academic forms of publishing science-related topics.

B - Big data and machine learning

Obermeyer Z,  Emanuel EJ. Predicting the future —  big data, machine learning, and clinical medicine. The New England Journal of Medicine 2016;375:1216-19
(doi: 10.1056/NEJMp1606181)

To be useful, data must be analyzed, interpreted, and acted on. Thus, it is algorithms — not data sets — that will prove transformative. Machine learning will become an indispensable tool for clinicians seeking to truly understand their patients. As patients’ conditions and medical technologies become more complex, the role of machine learning will grow, and clinical medicine will be challenged to grow with it. It will dramatically improve the ability of health professionals to establish a prognosis, displace much of the work of radiologists and anatomical pathologists, and improve diagnostic accuracy.

B - The role of a publications officer

Cobey KD, Galipeau J, Shamseer L, et al. Report on a pilot project to introduce a publications officer. CMAJ 2016;188(12):E279-80.
(doi: 10.1503/cmaj.151340)

The primary objective of a publications officer should be to provide institutional guidance and support to researchers and trainees on how to prepare manuscripts for journal submission as well as advice on publication topics (open access, metrics, ethics and integrity). The authors began a pilot project in which they hired a publications officer at their institution, The Ottawa Hospital Research Institute. Their experience is described.

B - Articles on overuse of medical care

Morgan DJ, Dhruva SS, Wright SM, et al. 2016 Update on medical overuse: a systematic review. JAMA Internal Medicine 2016;176(11):1687-92
(doi: 10.1001/jamainternmed.2016.5381)

Overuse of medical care is an increasingly recognized problem in clinical medicine. This review promotes reflection on the top 10 original research articles published in 2015 that are most likely to reduce overuse of medical care, organized into 3 categories: overuse of testing, overtreatment, and questionable use of services. The number of articles on medical overuse doubled from 2014 to 2015.

B - Citation analysis

Foz CW, Paine CET, Sauterey B. Citations increase with manuscript length, author number, and references cited in ecology journals. Ecology and Evolution 2016;1-10
(doi: 10.1002/ece3.2505)

The authors examined the relationship between citations received and manuscript length, number of authors, and number of references cited for papers published in 32 ecology journals between 2009 and 2012. They found that longer papers, those with more authors, and those that cite more references are cited more. This is likely because longer papers contain more data and ideas and thus have more citable elements. There is also a perception among ecologists that shorter papers are more impactful.

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Changes at eLife

eLife, the open-access journal supported by three major research funders (, has announced that it will start charging from 2017. Since its launch in 2012, the journal has had no charges, supported entirely by grants from the funders. The ‘publication fee’ will be $2500. The move is explained in an editorial in the journal, and follows the announcement in June 2016 of continuing investment by the founding organisations. The journal has also announced a partnership with to create an annotation ‘layer’ for eLife.

N - Nature data policy

From September 2016, all research papers accepted for publication in Nature and 12 other Nature journals will have to include a statement on access to the study’s data. e policy, announced in an editorial in Nature will require a statement reporting the availability of the "minimal data set necessary to interpret, replicate and build on the findings reported in the paper" along with details about publicly available data sets and reasons for any access restrictions.

Thursday, October 06, 2016

B - Challenges in altmetrics

Haustein, S. Grand challenges in altmetrics: heterogeneity, data quality and dependencies. Scientometrics 2016;108(1):413-423
(doi: 10.1007/s11192-016-1910-9)

This paper focuses on the current challenges for altmetrics. Heterogeneity, data quality and particular dependencies are identified as the three major issues and discussed in detail with an emphasis on past developments in bibliometrics. The heterogeneity of altmetrics reflects the diversity of the acts and online events, most of which take place on social media platforms. Data quality issues become apparent in the lack of accuracy, consistency and replicability of various altmetrics, which is largely affected by the dynamic nature of social media events. Furthermore altmetrics are shaped by technical possibilities.

B - OA publication fees in Germany

Jahn N, Tullney M. A study of institutional spending on open access publication fees in Germany. PeerJ 2016;4:e2323
(doi: 10.7717/peerj.2323)

This study examines how much German universities and research organisations spent on open access publication fees. According to self-reported cost data from the Open APC initiative, this type of support has grown over the years. Comparing these expenditure with those from Austria and the UK, German open access funding is focused primarily on fully open access journals, raising important questions about hybrid open access journals as a publication venue.

Wednesday, October 05, 2016

B - Truth in science publishing

Südhof TC. Truth in science publishing: a personal perspective. PLoS Biology 2016;14(8):e1002547
(doi: 10.1371/journal.pbio.1002547)

Emerging flaws in the integrity of the peer review system are largely responsible for the validity of published scientific results.. Distortions in peer review are driven by economic forces and enabled by a lack of accountability of journals, editors, and authors. One approach to restoring trust may be to establish basic rules that render peer review more transparent, such as publishing the reviews and monitoring not only the track records of authors but also of editors and journals.

B - A COPE perspective on publishing ethical issues

Pierson CA. Avoiding ethics pitfalls in publishing: a perspective from COPE. Oral Diseases 2016 July 12
(doi: 10.1111/odi.12539)

Throughout its history, the Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE) has provided a forum for discussion about ethical issues related to all aspects of scholarly publishing and developed resources to assist those who write, review, and edit scholarly work. This concise review provides examples of ethical issues related to authoring, reviewing, and editing scholarly manuscripts from the perspective of COPE.

B - Authorship of clinical trial documents

Billiones R. Authorship of clinical trial documents. Medical Writing 2016;25(1):33-35

Authorship of clinical trial documents such as clinical study protocols, clinical study reports, investigator’s brochures and inform ed consent forms has not yet been given much attention. This article looks at the common practices of authorship attribution and signing off on these documents and examines the ICH guidelines.

B - Researchers under cyber attacks

Dadkhah M, Borchardt G, Maliszewski T. Fraud in academic publishing: researchers under cyber attacks. The American Journal of Medicine 2016
(doi: 10.1016/j.amjmed.2016.08.030)

Day by day, researchers receive new suspicious emails in their inboxes. In this short communication the authors review current cyber threats in academic publishing and try to present general guidelines for authors.

B - Publishing elite against impact factor

Callaway E. Beat it, impact factor! Publishing elite turns against controversial metric. Nature 2016;535(7611):210-211

Senior staff at societies and leading journals want to end inappropriate use of impact factor. They say that the measure is a broad-brush indicator of a journal's output and it should not be used as a proxy for the quality of any single article or its authors.


B - Ethical medical communications

Smalley S. Staying ahead of the game in the changing arena of ethical medical communications - Viewpoint of a freelance medical writer. Medical Writing 2016;25(2):13-17

Good publication practices as well as guidelines, regulations, codes of practice, and other guidelines governing pharmaceutical-HCP interactions and promotion of medicines play an important role in professional and ethical medical communication. It is essential for those working in the medical communications sector to stay informed of evolving guidance. 

Tuesday, October 04, 2016

B - Content and phrasing in titles

Kerans ME, Murray A, Sabatè S. Content and phrasing in titles of original research and review articles in 2015: range of practice in four clinical journals. Publications 2016;4(2),11
(doi: 10.3390/publications402011)

This study aimed to learn more about titles in clinical medicine today and to develop an efficient, reliable way to study titles over time and on the fly—for quick application by authors, manuscript editors, translators and instructors. It compared content and form in titles from two general medical journals—the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM) and the British Medical Journal—and two anesthesiology journals (the European Journal of Anaesthesiology and Anesthesiology). Significant content differences were found.

B - Photoshopping science

Patterson K. Is photoshopping science universally wrong? The Conversation June 1, 2016

Photoshop has become a proprietary eponym for image manipulation, and manipulation of scientific images is universally unethical. Scientists rely on a vast array of technologies to capture, measure, test, display and communicate their research. Raw scientific data needs to be detected or discovered and then the data often needs to be transformed, or manipulated into a comprehensible form. There are detailed guidelineson what is considered appropriate vs inappropriate image manipulation techniques.

B - Readability of academic blogs

Hartley J, Cabanac G. Are two authors better than one? Can writing in pairs affect the readability of academic blogs? Scientometrics 2016

The literature on academic writing suggests that writing in pairs leads to more readable papers than writing alone. The authors wondered whether academic blog posts written alone or in pairs would vary in style: they found no differences in average sentence length between single- and co-authored posts. However, the posts written in pairs were slightly less readable than the single-authored posts, which challenges the current view on the advantages of writing in pairs.

B - Ghostwriting in drug marketing

Matheson A. Ghostwriting: the importance of definition and its place in contemporary drug marketing. BMJ 2016;354:i4578
(doi: 10.1136/bmj.i4578)

During the past decade, the pharmaceutical publications industry has campaigned to persuade medicine, journals, ethicists, and the media that it is opposed to ghostwriting. Yet ghostwriting remains widespread in industry financed medical journal literature. The author describes how the pharmaceutical publications industry seeks to legitimise ghostwriting by changing its definition while deflecting attention from wider marketing practices in academic publishing.

Friday, September 23, 2016

B - Self-citation rates higher for men

Singh Chawla D. Self-citation rates higher for men. Nature 2016;535:212

Men cite their own papers 56% more than women on average, according to an analysis of 1.5 million studies published between 1779 and 2011. The analysis looked at papers across disciplines in the digital library JSTOR and found that men’s self-citation rate had risen to 70% more than women’s over the past two decades, despite an increase of women in academia in recent years. According to the study authors, men view their abilities more positively than women do and face fewer societal penalties for self-promotion than do women.

B - OA bibliography

Bailey CW, Jr. Transforming scholarly publishing through open access: a bibliography. Digital Scholarship 2010

This publication with over 1,100 references provides in-depth coverage of published journal articles, books, and other textual works about the open access movement. Many references have links to freely available copies of included works.

B - PhD thesis: being more open

Burrough-Boenisch J. PhD thesis: being more open about PhD papers. Nature 2016;536:274
(doi: 10.1038/536274b)

In the Netherlands, a PhD thesis is published before the viva voce exam with an ISBN identifier and is later posted online. Advantages over the traditional monograph thesis include: it is quick and easy to write; feedback from the papers' reviewers can be instructive; and students attain a presence in the international science community before graduation. The author of this Letter also suggests that the thesis itself could contain a statement of all assistance received.

B - Predatory journals

Beall J. Best practices for scholarly authors in the age of predatory journals. Annals of The Royal College of Surgeons of England 2016;98(2):77-79
(doi: 10.1308/rcsann.2016.0056)

The author discusses one recent phenomenon that has arisen from the open access movement: that of ‘predatory publishers’. These are individuals or companies that use the open access financial system (author pays, rather than library subscribes) to defraud authors and readers by promising reputable publishing platforms but delivering nothing of the sort. They frequently have imaginary editorial boards, do not operate any peer review or quality control, are unclear about payment requirements. The author manages a blog site that names publishers and journals that he has identified as predatory, the Beall's lists.

B - Gold OA sustainability

Mellon Foundation. Pay it forward. Investigating a sustainable model of open access article processing charges for large North American research institutions. 185p.

A major study conducted by the University of California, Davis, and the California Digital Library, the Pay-It-Forward project, addressed the financial ramifications for the types of research institutions whose affiliated scholars generate a preponderance of the scholarly literature. It investigated the financial sustainability of the OA gold model, in which journal publishers charge authors an article processing charge (APC) to generate revenue instead of subscriptions. The project has collected data on journal budgets and expenditures, publishing costs and APCs, attitudes about Gold OA of publishers and authors at various career stages, and authorship patterns at our institutions.

B - Data exchange standards for peer review

Paglione LD, Lawrence RN. Data exchange standards to support and acknowledge peer-review activity. Learned Publishing 2015;328:309-316
(doi: 10.1087/20150411)

A Working Group on Peer Review Service, facilitated by CASRAI, was created to develop a data model and citation standard for peer-review activity that can be used to support both existing and new review models. Standardized citation structures for reviews can enable the inclusion of peer-review activity in personal recognition and evaluation

Wednesday, August 03, 2016

N - invited reproducibility paper

The journal Information Systems has introduced a new article type: the invited reproducibility paper. Directly addressing the lack of reproducibility in science, the journal, published by Elsevier, is inviting authors to co-author a report of a verified reproduced experiment. All code and data is made available on Mendeley Data. You can read more on the Elsevier Connect blog.

Tuesday, August 02, 2016

N - Springer Nature research data policies

Springer Nature is introducing a set of standardised research data policies, aiming to have "the most comprehensive and inclusive research data policy of any large publisher". Aiming where possible to harmonise policies across many journals, while recognising the different data sharing needs and expectations of different communities, Springer Nature has opted for a modular set of policies and an implementation strategy. There are four main types of policy: (1) data sharing encouraged; (2) evidence of data sharing encouraged; (3) statements of data sharing required; (4) data sharing and peer review of data required. The policies are explained on the SpringerOpen Blog.

N - Dutch research misconduct and reproducibility funds

The Dutch government has committed €8 million to explore research misconduct and reproduce key studies. As reported by Times Higher Education, all researchers in the Netherlands will be questioned about their possible involvement in research misconduct or 'sloppy science', and a fund will be set up for replication of research that has influenced policy or gained media attention.

N - How Can I Share It?

How Can I Share it? ( is an initiative of the International Association of Scientific, Technical and Medical Publishers (STM), launched in May 2016. A long-standing STM working group has been exploring the effects of scholarly collaboration networks (SCNs), such as ResearchGate, Mendeley, Readcube and many others. The working group developed a set of voluntary principles for article sharing, endorsed by many publishers and SCNs, and the new site aims to provide practical information on all aspects of sharing articles.

N - Badges for books

Altmetric has enabled Badges for Books, for displaying how much attention a published book and its individual chapters have received. The badges are linked to ISBNs and record mentions in mainstream media, policy documents, reference managers, blogs, social media, and peer review platforms. The service launched on the Routledge Handbooks Online platform.

N - WAME professionalism code of conduct

The World Association of Medical Editors (WAME) has developed a professional code of conduct for medical journal editors. The code of conduct covers six areas: research integrity; personal development; policies and behaviour; editorial independence; best practice; and relevance. The code was created following discussions at WAME's 2015 International Conference for Medical Journal Editors.

Friday, June 24, 2016

B - Scientists' participation in public debates

Woolston C. Scientists are cautious about public outreach. Nature Febr. 2015

Scientists think that they should actively participate in public debates about science and technology - but many have misgivings about doing so, according to a survey of nearly 4,000 US researchers. Of the respondents, 87% said that scientists should “take an active role in public policy debates about science and technology”, and just over half said that they had talked about their research with reporters. However, 52% said that oversimplification of science in news reports was a major problem, They have also showed mixed feelings about news and social media.

B - Writing for lay audiences

Salita JT. Writing for lay audiences: a challenge for scientists. Medical Writing 2015;424(4):183-189
(doi: 10.1179/2047480615Z.000000000320)

Writing for lay audiences, especially lay summaries, is needed to increase health and science literacy, but this kind of writing can be difficult for scientists. The article describes why it can be so difficult and gives some advice on how scientists can cope with the challenge and how institutions and organisations can help.

B - Medical journalism

Whelan J. Medical journalism: another way to write about science. Medical Writing 2015;24(4):219-221
(doi: 10.1179/2047480615Z.000000000327)

True journalism differs from public relations and uncritically reproducing press releases. It involves doing background research into the context surrounding the finding being reported, seeking comments from independent experts, and highlighting the negative as well as positive aspects. In this article, the author pulls together information for medical writers interested in journalism or science writing.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

B - Replicating psychology studies

Bohannon J. Many psychology papers fail replication test. Science 2015;349(6251):910-911
(doi: 10.1126/science.349.6251.910)

In the Open Science Collaboration, 270 psychologists from around the world signed up to replicate studies; they did not receive any funding. The group selected the studies to be replicated based on the feasibility of the experiment, choosing from those published in 2008 in three journals. Of the 100 prominent papers analyzed, only 39% could be replicated unambiguously. The results lend support to the idea that scientists and journal editors are biased—consciously or not—in what they publish.

B - Sex and gender equity in research: SAGER guidelines

Heidari S, Babor TF, De Castro P, et al. Sex and gender equity in research: rationale for the SAGER guidelines and recommended use. Research Integrity and Peer Review 2016;1:2
(doi: 10.1186/s41073-016-0007-6)

This article describes the rationale for an international set of guidelines to encourage a more systematic approach to the reporting of sex and gender in research across disciplines. The Sex and Gender Equity in Research (SAGER) guidelines are designed primarily to guide authors in preparing their manuscripts, but they are also useful for editors, as gatekeepers of science, to integrate assessment of sex and gender into all manuscripts as an integral part of the editorial process.

B - Rewarding reviewers

Warne V. Rewarding reviewers - sense or sensibility? A Wiley study explained. Learned Publishing 2016;29(1):41-50

In July 2015, Wiley surveyed over 170,000 researchers in order to explore peer reviewing experience; attitudes towards recognition and reward for reviewers; and training requirements. Results show that while reviewers choose to review in order to give back to the community, there is more perceived benefit in interacting with the community of a top-ranking journal than a low-ranking one. Seventy-seven per cent show an interest in receiving reviewer training. Reviewers strongly believe that reviewing is inadequately acknowledged at present and should carry more weight in their institutions' evaluation process.

B - What makes a good policy paper

Whitty JM. What makes an academic paper useful for health policy? BMC Medicine 2015;13:301
(doi: 10.1186/s12916-015-0544-8)

Getting relevant science and research into policy is essential. There are several barriers, but the easiest to reduce is making papers more relevant and accessible to policymakers. Opinion pieces backed up by footnotes are generally unusable for policy. Objective, rigorous, simply written original papers from multiple disciplines with data can be very helpful.

B - Post-publication peer review

Teixeira da Silva A, Dobránszki J. Problems with traditional science publishing and finding a wider niche for post-publication peer review. Accountability in Research 2015;22(1):22-40
(doi: 10.1080/08989621.2014.899909)

Errors in the literature, incorrect findings, fraudulent data, poorly written scientific reports, or studies that cannot be reproduced not only serve as a burden on tax-payers' money, but they also serve to diminish public trust in science and its findings. Therefore, there is every need to fortify the validity of data that exists in the science literature. One way to address the problem is through post-publication peer review, an efficient complement to traditional peer-review that allows for the continuous improvement and strengthening of the quality of science publishing.

B - OA and knowledge translation

Adisesh A, Whiting A. Power to the people - open access publishing and knowledge translation. Occupational Medicine 2016;66:264-265
(doi: 10.1093/occmed/kqv191)

This Editorial attempts to demystify the rights and wrongs of self-archiving and explains some of the issues around open access (OA) publishing. There are essentially three major publication options for authors: no cost for publication in a subscription-based journal; OA journal publication where there may be an article processing charge (APC) paid by or on behalf of the authors; and publication in a hybrid journal where a subscription journal provides the option for OA publication upon payment of an APC. Occupational Medicine recognized the need for open access as early as 2007, when it became a ‘hybrid’ journal.

B - Rule violations

Gächter S, Schulz JF. Intrinsec honesty and the prevalence of rule violations across societies. Nature 2016;531:496-499
(doi: 10.1038/nature17160)

The authors present cross-societal experiments from 23 countries around the world that demonstrate a robust link between the prevalence of rule violations and intrinsic honesty. They developed an index of the ‘prevalence of rule violations’ (PRV). Their results suggest that institutions and cultural values influence PRV, which impact on people's intrinsec honesty and rule following.

Friday, June 17, 2016

B - Sharing clinical trial data

Taichman DB, Backus J, Baethge C, et al. Sharing clinical trial data. A proposal from the International Committee of Medical Journal Editors. JAMA February 2, 2016;315(5):467-468

The International Committee of Medical Journal Editors (ICMJE) believes that there is an ethical obligation to responsibly share data generated by interventional clinical trials because participants have put themselves at risk. As a condition of consideration for publication of a clinical trial report in our member journals, the ICMJE proposes to require authors to share with others the deidentified individual-patient data (IPD) underlying the results presented in the article (including tables, figures, and appendices or supplementary material) no later than 6 months after publication. The ICMJE also proposes to require that authors include a plan for data sharing as a component of clinical trial registration.

B - Statistical reporting errors in psychology

Nuijten MB, Hartgerink CHJ, van Assen MALM, et al. The prevalence of statistical reporting errors in psychology (1985-2013). Behavior Research Methods 2015:1-22
(doi: 10.3758/s13428-015-0664-2)

This study documents reporting errors in a sample of over 250,000 p-values reported in eight major psychology journals from 1985 until 2013, using the null-hypothesis significance testing (NHST). Results showed that half of all papers contained at least one p-value that was inconsistent with its test statistic and degrees of freedom. One in eight papers contained a grossly inconsistent p-value that may have affected the statistical conclusion. This could indicate a systematic bias in favor of significant results.

B - Public registry of competing interests

Dunn AG. Set up a public registry of competing interests. Nature 2016 May 5;533(7601):9.
(doi: 10.1038/533009a2016)

According to the author, publishing system for disclosing competing interests is still fragmented, inconsistent and inaccessible. About half of the studies that involve researchers who hold relevant competing interests fail to declare them, and the common causes are inconsistent requirements across journals and negligence. To solve this problems, the research community should establish a public registry of competing interests, i.e. an online database of interests declared by researchers to precisely determine the association between competing interests and the potential for bias.

B - Reviewer fatigue?

Breuning M, Backstrom J, Brannon J, et al. Reviewer fatigue? Why scholars decline to review their peers' work. PS: Political Science & Politics 2015;48(4):595-600.
(doi: 10.1017/S1049096515000827)

The double-blind peer review process is central to publishing in academic journals, but it also relies heavily on the voluntarily efforts of anonymous reviewers. Journal editors have increasingly become concerned that scholars feel overburdened with requests to review manuscripts and experience “reviewer fatigue.”. The authors of this article empirically investigated the rate at which scholars accept or decline to review for the American Political Science Review, as well as the reasons they gave for declining: almost three-quarters of those who responded to requests agreed to review, and reviewer fatigue was only one of many other reasons (also busy professional and personal lives).


B - OA publishing trend analysis

Poltronieri E, Bravo E, Curti M, et al. Open access publishing trend analysis: statistics beyond the perception. Information Research 2016;21(2), paper 712.

This analysis aimed to track the number of OA journals acquiring impact factor, and to investigate the distribution of subject categories pertaining to these journals in the period 2010-2012. Results showed a growth of OA scholarly publishing, with a prevalence for journals relating to medicine and biological science disciplines.

Thursday, June 16, 2016

B - Gender analysis in health system research

Morgan R, George A, Ssali S, et al. How to do (or not to do)...gender analysis in health system research. Health Policy and Planning 2016;1-10
(doi: 10.1093/heapol/czw037)

The article outlines what gender analysis is and how gender analysis can be incorporated into health system research (HSR) content, process and outcomes. It recommends exploring whether and how gender power relations affect females and males in health systems through the use of sex disaggregated data, gender frameworks and questions. It also examines gender in HSR process by reflecting on how the research process itself is imbued with power relations, and in HSR outcomes by supporting how power relations can be transformed progressively or at least not exacerbated.

B - The Flesch Reading Ease measure

Hartley J. Is time up for the Flesch measure of reading ease? Scientometrics 2016;107(3):1523-26
(doi: 10.1007/s11192-016-1920-7)

The Flesch Reading Ease measure is widely used to measure the difficulty of text in various disciplines, including Scientometrics. This paper argues that the measure is now outdated, used inappropriately, and unreliable. According to the author, it is now time to abandon the notion of one measure and one computer programme being suitable for all purposes. Different computer-based programmes would have greater validity than the Flesch but probably they would still fail to take into account the effects of other variables that affect readability.

B - Open access impact

Tennant JP, Waldner F, Jacques DC, et al. The academic, economic and societal impacts of Open Access: an evidence-based review. F1000Research 2016;5:632
(doi: 10.12688/f1000research.8460.1)

This review aims to be a resource for current knowledge on the impacts of Open Access by synthesizing important research in three major areas of impact: academic, economic and societal. The evidence points to a favorable impact of OA on the scholarly literature through increased dissemination and reuse. Access to the research literature is key for innovative enterprises, and a range of governmental and non-governmental services, and it has the potential to save publishers and research funders considerable amounts of financial resources. Furthermore, OA contibutes to advance citizen science initiatives and researchers in developing countries.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

A - ESE Author Q&A: Omar Sabaj Meruane

In the latest edition of our ESE Author Q&A series, we speak to Omar Sabaj Meruane of Universidad de La Serena, who published the article ‘Relationship between the duration of peer-review, publication decision, and agreement among reviewers in three Chilean journals’ in the November 2015 issue of European Science Editing 41(4).

This article is of particular interest to peer review administrators and editors looking to increase the efficiency of their peer review processes, providing a novel insight into the relationships between peer review time and reviewers recommendations.

The article is now free to access from the EASE website. Download it here.

EASE:  Before we ask about some questions about yourself, please introduce our readers to the article you published in ESE.

Omar Sabaj Meruane: We explored the relation between time and agreement. We established different stages in the peer review process (reviewer selection, Notification, Publication, total review time, response to author and total time) for three international journals belonging to the fields of humanities, engineering, and higher education. In total, the peer review processes of 369 papers were analysed. Then we separated processes according to the level of agreement (low, partial and total agreement) and decision type. Total peer review time was greater for articles that were accepted. For all three of the journals examined, publication period was the longest stage, and time taken to select referees was longest for the humanities journal. Partial agreement between reviewers was related to longer publication times in the university teaching journal, while there was no relationship between reviewer agreement and publication time in the engineering journal. Duration of the peer review process was related to decision type. Relationship between level of agreement between reviewers and the duration of the various stages of the publication process was found to vary between disciplines.

EASE: What is your main area of research?

OSM: My main area of research is linguistics, specifically, the Analysis of Scientific Discourse. I am interested in exploring how the sociological attributes of scientists correlate with their discursive behaviour, when participating in constructing scientific knowledge

EASE:  How long have you been involved in this area?

OSM: I have been working in this area for 7 years. I have won two grant funds to study, first, the disciplinary variation of research articles rhetorical structure. The second grant, from which my article in ESE is a product, is devoted to analyse the peer review process.

EASE: Do you work in a group, or on your own?

OSM: We work with a large group of graduate and postgraduate students. I also have a colleague who is responsible as a co-researcher of our project. He is Carlos González (co-author of the paper) who works at the Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile. He is also the editor of Onomázein, a very prestigious journal devoted to linguistics (

EASE:  What are some of the innovative aspects you could tell us about your research?

OSM:  The more innovative aspect of our research programme (that is not well represented in the article we wrote for ESE) is the combination of discourse Analysis and Social Network Analysis. For years, these two disciplines have not been connected. For example, there are a lot of works analysing the review report, which give us a very detailed characteristics of this occluded genre, but we are not able to know which the sociological attributes of the reviewers are.  Thus, this lack of interaction between these two disciplines (Discourse Analysis and Social Network Analysis) , limits our understanding of how scientists behave discursively when participating in the collective system of generating scientific knowledge (peer review).
The specific innovation of the ESE article is the relation of time and agreement in the peer review process. One could hypothesize that if two people have to asses an object, time could be critical in arriving to a same (agreement) assessment. But this is not the case, at least not in all disciplines. So time is partially related to the probability that two reviewers agree on the publication recommendation of a paper.  The other innovation of our paper consists in the conceptualization of time. Most studies in the peer review process make general distinctions for example, from submission to decision, and from decision to publication (in the case of accepted articles). As we made more fine-grained distinction for several stages (reviewers selection time, revision time, notification time, among others) we had a better understanding of the duration of the process, so that  we can derive some tips to editors. For example, from our data we could see two patterns that characterize two typical bottle necks in managing time of peer review. The first problematic stage is the selection of referees that could take a very long time in humanities. Revision time (i.e. the average time of the two reviewers) is very similar across disciplines. The second pattern, typical for engineering, is that every stage is fairly fast, except for publication time (i.e from decision to publication). In the first case, to shorten the total time of peer review an editor should make efforts to enlarge his/her reviewer’s database. In the second case, the editor should think to augment the number of issues per year.

EASE:  What do you consider to be your best paper or work, and why?

A recent paper that appeared in The Journal of Scholarly Publishing:
Sabaj, O.; González, C. & Pina-Stranger, A. (2016). What we still don’t know about Peer Review. Journal of Scholarly Publishing 47 (2), 180-212.
We like this paper mainly because it shows various gaps in the research of peer review, so that it is useful to delineate a future research programme, where there are fully innovative opportunities. Our main claim is that we must be more interdisciplinary in approaching the very heart of scientific endeavour, namely, Peer review. Specifically, we think that exploring the nature of the discourse of reviewers report will be more enlighten if we relate the characteristics of those texts with the attributes (sociological, scientometrical) of the referees who produce them. But, as much of the information of the peer review process is confidential, it is impossible to conduct research of the process without the help and collaboration of editors.  
EASE:  Do you have any interesting work or papers that may be completed in the next year or so, that you are able to speak about?

OSM:  We are finishing two works that go on in the same line of research, which is to establish a relation between discursive and sociological attributes. Some questions we try to resolve in these works are: Do senior researchers give better feedback in the peer review process?  Does the evaluation report vary according to the sociological attributes of the reviewers?

What we are trying to configure is what we call a theory of scientific behaviour that uses methods and categories form both Discourse analysis and Social Network Analysis.

EASE:  What motivated you to write for European Science Editing?

OSM:  The prestige of the journal, the peer review process which is fast and detailed. The editors keep fluent contact with authors.

EASE:  What impact do you hope this paper could have, what changes could it make?

OSM:  It could help editor to better manage time in the peer review process.

EASE:  If people want to read more about this subject, can you name one or two specific articles they should read?

Björk B, Solomon D. The publishing delay in scholarly peer-reviewed journals. Journal of Informetrics. 2013;7:914-923. DOI: 10.1016/j.joi.2013.09.001

Azar O. Rejections and the importance of first response times. International Journal of Social Economics. 2004;31(3):259-274. DOI: 10.1108/03068290410518247

EASE:  Are there any websites or other resources related to your paper they should seek out?



Read Omar’s article in the full November issue of the ESE Journal archive on the EASE website here.

Omar can be found on Twitter at @omi_sabaj

Interview conducted by Duncan Nicholas of the EASE Council.