23 Apr 2007

Journalology roundup #5

Science retracts major Arabidopsis paper. "Scientist acknowledges omitting data, but denies any impropriety". Another paper and probably a career bites the dust.

The strike rate index: a new index for journal quality based on journal size and the h-index of citations. "The SRI explains more than four times the variation in citation counts compared to the impact factor". I've yet to read this properly, but it looks interesting. At some point we need to settle on some stable and useful alternatives to the Impact Factor. As an aside, I love Biomedical Digital Libaries! I would say that as it's a BioMed Central journal, but it's carving out a great niche, publishing some work of real interest to librarians, editors and others interested in scientometrics.

NEJM punishes reviewer for breaking embargo. "The New England Journal of Medicine has banned Martin Leon, a cardiologist at the Cardiovascular Research Foundation, from reviewing studies and contributing editorials or reviews for five years, as a punishment for telling colleagues at an American College of Cardiology symposium that a trial comparing medication to stents for the treatment of clogged coronaries "was rigged to fail-and it did." The data was to be presented two days later, and published in NEJM soon after". That seems a bit harsh! There are worse crimes than breaking an embargo. If journals published work online when it was ready rather than hoarding it for months to fill paper issues then there would be less temptation to break embargos. If it is through peer review, make it public without delay!

A bumper crop from the Cochrane Collaboration!

Editorial peer review for improving the quality of reports of biomedical studies. "Little empirical evidence is available to support the use of editorial peer review as a mechanism to ensure quality of biomedical research".

Time to publication for results of clinical trials. "Trials with positive results are published sooner than other trials".

Grey literature in meta-analyses of randomized trials of health care interventions. "Published trials tend to be larger and show an overall greater treatment effect than grey [unpublished] trials".

Full publication of results initially presented in abstracts. "Only 63% of results from abstracts describing randomized or controlled clinical trials are published in full. 'Positive' results were more frequently published than not 'positive' results. The consequence of this is that systematic reviews will tend to over-estimate treatment effects".

Technical editing of research reports in biomedical journals. "Most journals try to improve articles before publication by editing them to make them fit a 'house-style', and by other processes such as proof-reading... There is some evidence that the overall 'package' of technical editing raises the quality of articles (suggested by 'before-and-after' studies). However, there has been little rigorous research to show which processes can improve accuracy or readability the most, or if any have harmful effects". I'm a big fan of Liz Wager's work, she's one of the few out there really trying to test what editors and journals do.

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