20 Apr 2007

Journalology roundup #4

Korean wolf cloning study pulled. "Journal removes paper describing the first cloning of gray wolves from its website after the authors acknowledge mistakes in the manuscript".
Editors will need to put cloning articles through the wringer from now on.

NEJM letter retracted over authorship
. "Co-authors of a letter about antipsychotic medications may have played no role in its content; first author claims misunderstanding".
Misunderstanding? Hmmm. He mentions a 'Mathew Hotopf' who is apparently a UK psychiatrist who he claims did discuss the letter, but is not the same Matthew Hotopf as he ended up listing as an author (an editorial board member of BMC Psychiatry). Except there is no trace of another 'Mathew Hotopf' on the web.

Publishers reveal increase in digital advertising.
"Further evidence of advertisers' growing enthusiasm for the net in the latest membership survey from the UK Association of Online Publishers. The AOP census 2007, carried out among some of the largest newspaper and magazine groups, found that digital ads now contribute an average 12% of their revenues. And all of them believe this is set to rise substantially in the coming year".

Problems with use of composite end points in trials
. "The use of composite end points in cardiovascular trials is frequently complicated by large gradients in importance to patients and in magnitude of the effect of treatment across component end points. Higher event rates and larger treatment effects associated with less important components may result in misleading impressions of the impact of treatment". Translation: Lumping together different outcomes such as heart attacks and death in a trial can confuse the picture of the effect of treatments.

Blame the drug companies… and yourself...
"So here's an interesting question. Lots of us wander around quite happily with a "dolphins good, drug companies bad" morality in our heads; and this is entirely reasonable, they are quite bad. But how easy is it to show that drug companies kludge their results, and to explain what they've done to a lay audience?". I think Ben's possibly being a bit kind when he labels the deliberate use of a low dose of a competitor's drug 'trivial', but I agree that a solution to problems relating to financial interests would be an increase in drug and other treatment development and clinical trials funded by government or other non-company organisations.

The Perils and Pitfals of Independent Research. "Ben Goldacre over at badscience is talking about research and big pharmaceutical companies. He says that while it is true we all firmly believe that pharmaceutical companies are inherently evil corporations (and dolphins are truly wondrous creatures) the research they produce is no more flawed than any other research. He goes on to say that there aren't very many independent RCTs (i.e. not funded by Big Pharma) and that he does not believe this is Big Pharma's fault. I believe I can shed some light into why that may be".

Science retracts major Arabidopsis paper. "Scientist acknowledges omitting data, but denies any impropriety". It seems that rarely a month goes by without an major error being uncovered in Science. One explanation may be that 'major breakthrough' work is much more vulnerable to the temptation to massage or fabricate data, but also that articles published in receive more scrutiny than the average article from readers, simply by virtue of being published in Science. A less kind interpretation would be that Science focusses more on importance than integrity, but after being burnt by the Korean cloning scandal that is less likely.

The latest issue of Research Information is online.

'OA creates new opportunities'.
"The open-access publishing model enables new types of journals that could not be published under the traditional subscription model, believes Matthew Cockerill, publisher of BioMed Central".

Study shows subscription price variations.
"Journal prices have risen by very different amounts over the past seven years".

Oxford Journals opens Chinese office.

Bentham announces OA growth strategy. They say that imitation is the best form of flattery; suffice it to say that at BioMed Central right now we've never been more flattered. We're positively blushing.

Encouraging innovation. "Egypt-based Hindawi Publishing has just converted its last two subscription journals to the open-access model. The company's president and co-founder Ahmed Hindawi tells us why".

Semantic enrichment boosts information retrieval. "RSC Publishing's Project Prospect is enhancing the chemical information available from the publisher's journal articles".

Fostering open-access in the research community. "Elisabetta Poltronieri of Italy's Istituto Superiore di Sanità reports back from an international seminar on open access held recently at the research institute".

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