Monday, January 29, 2018

Cochrane-REWARD prize for reducing waste in health research

Cochrane is now calling for nominations for the 2018 prize.

The Lancet series on adding value and reducing waste in research has documented that much research is wasted because its outcomes cannot be used. The waste occurs during 5 stages of research production: question selection, study design, research conduct, publication, and reporting. This type of research waste has been estimated at a global loss of around $170 billion per year. Much of this waste appears to be avoidable or remediable, but there is little recognition of the need to develop and implement the needed remedies.

The Cochrane-REWARD prize is intended to stimulate and promote research to address the issue of research waste, highlighting both underused "remedies" and the need to invest in research to identify problems and solutions to them.

The prize is open to any person or organization that has tested and implemented strategies to reduce waste in one of the five stages of research production in the area of health (defined as the range of behavioural, biological, socio-economic and environmental factors that influence the health status of individuals or populations).

All nominations will be assessed using the following criteria:

  1. The nominee has addressed at least one of the 5 stages of research waste (questions, design, conduct, publication, reporting) in the area of health;

  2. The nominee has pilot or more definitive data showing the initiative can lower waste;

  3. The initiative can be scaled up;

  4. The estimated potential reduction in research waste that the initiative might achieve.

Nominations will be assessed by a panel of 10 members, who will select two entries to win a funding award, paid over the next two years.

First prize will be awarded £3000 (£1500 per year); 2nd prize will be awarded funding of £2000 (£1000 per year).

Deadline for nominations is May 15th, 2018.  The winners will be announced at the Cochrane Colloquium, Edinburgh, 16-18 September, 2018.

Interested parties should read through the full details and apply using the entry form here.

- Monday 29th January, 2018 -

PEERE International Conference on Peer Review

PEERE International Conference on Peer Review, 7-9 March 2018, CNR (National Research Council) Rome, Piazzale Aldo Moro, Italy

The TD1306 COST Action PEERE organises an interdisciplinary conference on peer review, to be held in March this year.

The conference aims to provide a forum for scholars, practitioners and science stakeholders to share evidence on peer review in different fields, e.g., medicine, computer science, social sciences and humanities. It aims to stimulate the use of evidence-based research in the design and implementation of peer review in a variety of fields and encourage more systematic research.

The conference will feature original research, position papers, literature reviews that use any method (e.g., quantitative, experimental or qualitative) to investigate peer review in a variety of scientific domains (e.g., scholarly journals, funding agencies, research assessment).

Topics that will be included in the conferennce will include:

•Quantitative and qualitative analysis of peer review in scholarly journals and funding agencies
•Estimating editorial and reviewer bias
•The impact of different peer review models (single vs. double blind, confidential vs. open etc.) on reviewer attitudes and editorial decisions
•Incentives, motivation and recognition in peer review
•Social network analysis of peer review and editorial policy
•Models and theories of peer review: principles, functions and management
•Applications of bibliometrics, altmetrics and scientometrics to peer review
•Perspectives from policy makers, grant funding agencies, libraries, and publishers
•Computer simulation studies of peer review dynamics and outcomes

Visit the PEERE website for full details and further notices of the event:

Friday, January 26, 2018

Matarese & Shashok - Response to Moher's Core Competencies statement

Two of our members have written a response to Moher et al.’s ‘Core competencies for scientific editors of biomedical journals: consensus statement’, published in BMC Medicine in 2017, from their perspective as authors’ editors.

Valerie Matarese and Karen Shashok’s correspondence article in F1000Research offers some “insights into the types of competencies researchers from diverse geographical, cultural and linguistic backgrounds would value in journal editors.

The paper discusses several issues, including the definition of journal editor, competencies which were considered then removed during the Delphi process, inappropriate text re-use, and suggests the role of journal editors could encompass some author-editing skills, to give more nuanced feedback on writing and language beyond “blanket “acceptable/unacceptable” assessments”.

Valerie and Karen’s paper is published now, is open for peer review, and can be found at:

- Friday 26th January, 2018 -

Thursday, January 25, 2018

EASE Council nominations for 2018-2021

Reminder for recommendations for new EASE Council members - Deadline for nominations is 10th March, 2018

Council elections are held every three years. The last elections for EASE Council were held in 2015, and new elections will therefore be held in 2018.

At the next EASE Annual General Meeting (in Bucharest, 8th June 2018), it will be time to elect a new Council to serve EASE for the next 3 years.

Council consists of a President, the immediate Past President, two Vice-Presidents, Secretary, Treasurer and 5 ordinary members, plus the Editor of the association's in-house journal (European Science Editing). The Council may co-opt to three additional members (14 members in total, excluding Secretary).

The currently elected Nominations Committee (members: Ana Marušić, Joan Marsh, Pippa Smart) have accepted the following invitations to stand:

President 2018-2021:
Pippa Smart

Vice Presidents 2018-2021:
Duncan Nicholas and Ines Steffens

Rod Hunt

Past President (by default):
Ana Marušić

Ksenija Baždarić (ex officio)

Ordinary Members of Council - list of nominees:

 Current CouncilMoira HudsonUK
Sylwia UfnalskaPoland
Rachael LammeyUK
New nomineesStephan MertensGermany
Jadranka StojanovskiCroatia
Cem UzunTurkey
Flaminio SquazzoniItaly
Bahar MehmaniNetherlands

Please see the short biographies submitted by the five new candidates, as well as short biographies of the nominees for President and Vice Presidents.

Members may nominate additional candidates via e-mail up to 10 March 2018 - 90 days before the AGM which will take place in Bucharest, 8th of June, 2018.

Do you know someone who would be great on Council?

The Nominations Committee invites members to submit suggestions for nominations. Individuals must be nominated by another member (please ask your nominee beforehand and confirm that they agree to be nominated).

The term of office will be from June 2018 until the AGM in 2021.

Council meets in-person once a year, before the AGM, either at an EASE conference or a similar event. Other meetings are held by teleconference. Council members are reimbursed their expenses for travel and accommodation for the face-to-face meeting but positions are honorary and there is no salary or fee.

We are especially looking for people with a passion for one or more of the following areas:

  • Training & skills development

  • Outreach to regional chapters

  • Research and participation in collaborative initiatives

  • Advocacy & liaison with external bodies (e.g. ISMTE)

  • Developing guidelines and other publications

  • Networking & social media

To nominate someone:

  1. Each person must be nominated by two members.

  2. The nomination must be sent to the secretary by 10th March.

  3. Each nomination must comprise:

    1. Name, affiliation and contact details of the two nominating members

    2. A signed letter (sent as PDF or similar) from the nominee agreeing to the nomination, stating their areas of interest and what benefits they can bring to EASE Council

    3. The cv of the nominee

Each nomination will be acknowledged by the secretary. Ballot papers will then be circulated to members, who will vote via e-mail.

– Thursday, 25th January, 2018 -

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Hindawi services for institutional repositories

The open access publisher Hindawi have announced a new service for institutions, whereby they will automatically deposit a copy of an article with affiliated authors into the institutional repository as soon as it is published.

The service is designed to reduce the burden on authors and institutions manually transferring files, and looks simple to set up, with Hindawi’s tech team on hand to help with any complications.

See full details on the Hindawi site here:

Hindawi made headlines last year when they left the STM Association as a result of the conservative and obstructive stance the organisation is taking with regards to open access (a position underscored with their open access Statement to the EU open access, published in December and now removed from the web).

This new service looks further their goals of supporting freely available reseach, and should be a very helpful facility for any staff involved in tracking and measuring the research output of their institutions or faculties.

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Social Media, Science and MOOCs

An article published in FEMS Microbiology Letters reviews the use of Twitter as a tool for scientists to “increase their personal brand, improve their skills, enhance their visibility, share and communicate science to society, promote scientific culture, and even as a tool for teaching and learning”

The authors assess their experiences of using Twitter as part of a Massive Online Open Course (MOOC) in Spain and Latin America, present some of the measurable benefits they discovered through its use, and propose an extension to this strategy with a pan-European Microbiology MOOC in the near future.

The article is behind an OUP paywall, but anyone with access to the journal may find much of interest in this article.

Access it here:

Full reference:

Ignacio López-Goñi, Manuel Sánchez-Angulo; Social networks as a tool for science communication and public engagement: focus on Twitter, FEMS Microbiology Letters, , fnx246,

Monday, January 22, 2018

New APA Reporting Standards

Following a review of existing reporting standards, the American Psychological Association has published a paper which sets out revisions to existing standards, and adding new sets which address current positions and knowledge.

Changes to existing standards have been made to the meta-analysis section, and in the hypotheses, analyses, and conclusions, dividing them into 3 groupings (primary, secondary, and exploratory). Some new modules found in this version include standards for observational studies, clinical trials, longitudinal studies, and replication studies.

We recommend that all journal publishers, editors, authors and reviewers in the psychological sciences field read these, incorporate them as best practice guidelines in assessing papers for publication, and for all researchers to reference when designing and reporting their work.

The paper can be accessed for free here:

Full reference:

Appelbaum, M., Cooper, H., Kline, R. B., Mayo-Wilson, E., Nezu, A. M., & Rao, S. M. (2018). Journal article reporting standards for quantitative research in psychology: The APA Publications and Communications Board task force report. American Psychologist, 73(1), 3-25.


-  Monday 22nd January, 2018 -

Sunday, January 21, 2018

Taylor & Francis to pay reviewers in fast track publishing service

Providing authors with faster peer review and rewarding reviewers for their assistance to publishers in achieving this goal are thorny issues, but one of the large publishers is trying a new initiative.

Taylor & Francis have described how their Accelerated Publication service for authors involves payments of $150 to each peer reviewer who submits their comments within one week.

There are no official details of the payment structure available on the T&F website as yet, but they do present the workflow for this Accelerated Publication service:

In a Twitter conversation with science communication journalist Richard Poynder@tandfonline revealed the payment news and provided several details of the process and motives behind it:

“Hi there Accelerated Publication covers submission to online publication and is designed to meet the needs of a select group, primarily in the biomedical sciences. (1/6)

This service is designed to give authors more control over timing of publication to fit with grant deadlines, product launches etc (2/6)

Reviewers are paid an honorarium on completion of their review because we are asking them to complete within a set timeframe. (3/6)

This timeframe is clear in all correspondence to reviewers invited to review Accelerated Publication submissions, and they accept the invitation on this basis. (4/6)

Payment is completely independent of their recommendation to the editor and many papers are in fact rejected e.g. CMRO had rejection rate of 52% on Accelerated Publication submissions in 2017 (5/6)

Hope this explains but if you have any more questions please contact us on, and we’ll come back to you as quickly as we can. (6/6)”

This is not the first time a large publisher has tried a fast-track system involving payments to peer reviewers. In 2015, Nature’s Scientific Reports set up a trial with Rubriq to offer a similar service, which saw one of their editors quit the journal in protest.

This was part of a trial for conceptual journal-independent peer review services, where companies conduct a scientific review of papers, then pass them to a suitable journal where the decision process could be accelerated.  However, during 2017, Rubriq and Axiom Review, a company providing similar services, both folded due to lack of take-up. It seems that vision for payment and speed incentives was not right for the time or place.

T&F have been actively involved in trying to determine suitable means of compensating their reviewers for some time. In 2016 they published a white paper titled “Peer Review – a global view”, which investigated many opinions around the process,  one section of which addressed incentives. The survey identified strong support for free access to papers, waivers for open access and page fees, and recognition, in the form of certificates or a published list of names (with stronger support if the name was not directly related to the paper).

On the subject of direct financial compensation, their survey found a lack of consensus, with almost equal numbers of responses stating they would be “less likely”, “more likely”, and neutrally valenced. Deeper analysis of responses showed the:

“youngest age group (20-29 year olds) are most in favour of receiving payment and those who are 60+ are most resistant. Whether this attitude among younger scholars will change as they progress in their careers, or if the call for reviewers to be paid will grow in time, could be an area of future examination.”

T&F appear to have approached this controversial issue as carefully and diligently as possible before launching this service, so we are keen to watch how response to their version unfolds.

- Sunday 21st January, 2018 -

Saturday, January 20, 2018

More steps towards transparency in research publishing

An Editorial published in Nature in September presented some “Steps towards transparency in research publishing” (Nature 2017;549(431), doi: 10.1038/549431a)

The Editorial discusses how progress in the transparency of both research and editorial processes is gathering pace, discussing five forms of transparency documented in a project overseen by Malcolm Macleod of the University of Edinburgh.

In addition to the positive steps, the Editorial also poses questions about the risks involved in opening up, considering whether transparency could give rise to a different sort of bias; for example, some authors do not want to know who authored a positive peer review, so that they can avoid future positive peer review bias themselves.

Monday, January 15, 2018

B - Cost of science in transition economies

Vuong QH. The (ir)rational consideration of the cost of science in transition economies. Nature Human Behaviour 2018;2(1):
(doi: 10.1038/s41562-017-0281-4)

The perspective paper presents the dilemma that a modern society is facing regarding the demand for ‘better’ cost consideration by scientists, on one hand, and the underestimation of the value that the scientific enterprise contributes to the society, on the other. The cost consideration can also become irrational and serve as an excuse for attacking science, which does more harm to the overall process of societal developments. Besides, the focus on issues of costs in doing science may also be misleading as genuine costs incurred by other failures could be easily compromised on.

B - Experimenter gender and biases

Chapman CC, Benedict C, Schiöth HB. Experimenter gender and replicability in science. Science Advances 2018;4:e1701427
(doi: 10.1126/sciadv.1701427)

This paper investigates how the gender of the experimenter may affect experimental findings. Clinical trials are regularly carried out without any report of the experimenter's gender. Significant biases may lead researchers to conclude that therapeutics or other interventions are either overtreating or undertreating a variety of conditions.

Thursday, January 04, 2018

B - Guidelines to publish observational studies

Rossi A, Benci C, Leventhal P. Guidelines for disclosing the results from observational trials. Medical Writing 2017;26(3):22-28

Publishing results from observational trials can be challenging for scientists and writers.  The Strengthening the Reporting of Observational Studies in Epidemiology (STROBE) Statement was the first guideline developed to identify the minimal information that should be included in articles reporting observational and epidemiological research. More than 50 ancillary guidelines tailored to specific needs are now available to assist authors in preparing successful articles on observational studies.

B - Behavioral and social sciences research funding

Kaplan RM, Johnson SB, Kobor PC. NIH behavioral and social sciences research support: 1980-2016. American Psychologist 2017;72(8):808-821
(doi: 10.1037/amp0000222)

Behavioral and social science has often been underfunded at the National Institutes of Health (NIH). In 1990, the Senate Appropriations Committee, recognizing that behavior may contribute to about half of all premature deaths, recommended that funding for behavioral and social sciences research should be about 10% of the NIH-budget. Data from several sources suggest that this goal has never been realized.

B - Transparency in research publishing

Editorial. Steps towards transparency in research publishing. Nature 2017;549(431)
(doi: 10.1038/549431a)

Progress in the transparency of both research and editorial processes is gathering pace. But as these processes become increasingly open, scientists and editors need to be proactive but also alert to risks. Transparency may give rise to different sorts of bias. For example, some authors do not want to know who autored a positive peer review, so that they can avoid future positive peer review bias themselves.

B - Facial appearance affects science communication

Gheorghiu AI, Callan MJ, Skylark WJ. Facial appearance affects science communication. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 2017;114(23):5970-5975
(doi: 10.1073/pnas.1620542114)

This article shows that the science communication process is influenced by the facial appearance of the scientist. It identified the traits that engender interest in a scientist’s work and the perception that they do high-quality work, and showed that these face-based impressions influence both the selection and evaluation of science news, and may bias public attitudes and government actions regarding key scientific issues.

B - Google Scholar normalization

Mingers J, Meyer M. Normalizing Google Scholar data for use in research evaluation. Scientometrics 2017;112(2):1111-1121
(doi: 10.1007/s11192-017-2415-x)

Bibliometric evaluations across disciplines require that the data are normalized to the field as the fields are very different in their citation processes. This paper tests a method for Google Scholar (GS) normalization developed by Bornmann et al. on an alternative set of data involving journal papers, book chapters, and conference papers. The results show that GS normalization is possible although at the moment it requires extensive manual involvement in generating and validating the data.

B - Appeals of rejected manuscripts

Dambha-Miller H. An appealing prospect? A survey into the numbers, outcomes, and editorial policies for appeals of rejected biomedical manuscripts. Learned Publishing 2017;30(3):227-231
(doi: 10.1002/leap.1107)

This article investigated the number of appeals against rejected biomedical manuscripts, their success rates, and the current editorial processes for managing them. Results showed considerable variations in appeal processes amongst journals, with little evidence of any detailed, reproducible, or established appeal policies, that are essential in ensuring that manuscripts are not incorrectly rejected.

Wednesday, January 03, 2018

B - Twitter in science

López-Goñi I, Sánchez-Angulo M. Social networks as a tool for science communication and public engagement: focus on Twitter. FEMS Microbiology Letters 2017 Nov. 20
(doi: 10.1093/femsle/fnx246)

A review on the use of Twitter in science and a comment on the authors' experience on using it as a platform for a Massive Online Open Course (MOOC) in Spain and Latin America. They propose to extend this strategy to a pan-European Microbiology MOOC in the near future.

B - Publication ethics in health emergencies

Shaw D, Elger BS.  Publication ethics in public health emergencies. Journal of Public Health 2017;39(3):640-643
(doi: 10.1093/pubmed/fdw067) 

The authors describe and analyze three issues in publication ethics that are raised when conducting research in health emergencies and disasters: reluctance to share data and samples; loss of individual authorship; and death of authors.

B - Quantity and quality in scientific publishing

Michalska-Smith MJ, Allesina S. And, not or: Quality, quantity in scientific publishing. PLos ONE 2017;12(6):e0178074
(doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0178074)

Scientists often perceive a trade-off between quantity and quality on scientific publishing. The authors compared members of the National Academy of Sciences with themselves across years, and used a much larger dataset than previously analized. They found that a member's most highly cited paper in a given year has more citations in more productive years than in less productive years. Their lowest cited paper in a year, on the other hand, has fewer citations in more productive years.

B - New publishing model to avoid CoI

Amigo I, Pascual-Garcia A. Conflicts of interest in scientific publishing. EMBO reports 2017:e201745008
(doi: 10.15252/embr.201745008)

The authors suggest a publishing model that would redistribute funding and the role of different actors - scientists, metric companies, librarians and so on - to maximize the impact of their respective skills for the benefit of science. Research papers and scientific data should be published in several specialized, open and publicly funded storage repositories. Peer review should be self-organized in a centralized and publicly funded peer review platform.

B - Correcting or retracting faulty publications

Teixeira da Silva JA. It may be easier to publish than correct or retract faulty biomedical literature. Croatian Medical Journal 2017;58(1):75-79
(doi: 10.3325/cmj.2017.58.75)

Correcting errors in the literature is generally considered to be a positive academic achievement. In contrast, retracting erroneous or fraudulent work is still viewed in a negative light. Corrections might be embraced as a more natural process in science publishing, especially when errors might be truly erroneous. Such a change in mentality will require a total overhaul of peer communities,

B - Reproducibility and faculty promotion

Flier J. Faculty promotion must assess reproducibility. Nature 2017;549(7671):133
(doi: 10.1038/549133a)

Reproducibility and robustness are under-emphasized when job applicants are evaluated in academic and research institutions and when faculty members are promoted.  Institutions should explicitly seek job candidates who can be frankly self-critical of their work. Evidence of self-scepticism is rarely seen, but this is an essential quality for any scientist. Over time, efforts to increase the ratio of self-reflection to self-promotion may be the best way to improve science.