bims-skolko Biomed News
on Scholarly communication
Issue of 2021‒06‒20
twenty papers selected by
Thomas Krichel
Open Library Society

  1. Prog Cardiovasc Dis. 2021 Jun 14. pii: S0033-0620(21)00067-0. [Epub ahead of print]
      A naïve researcher published a scientific article in a respectable journal. She thought her article was straightforward and defensible. It used only publicly available data, and her findings were consistent with much of the literature on the topic. Her coauthors included two distinguished statisticians. To her surprise her publication was met with unusual attacks from some unexpected sources within the research community. These attacks were by and large not pursued through normal channels of scientific discussion. Her research became the target of an aggressive campaign that included insults, errors, misinformation, social media posts, behind-the-scenes gossip and maneuvers, and complaints to her employer. The goal appeared to be to undermine and discredit her work. The controversy was something deliberately manufactured, and the attacks primarily consisted of repeated assertions of preconceived opinions. She learned first-hand the antagonism that could be provoked by inconvenient scientific findings. Guidelines and recommendations should be based on objective and unbiased data. Development of public health policy and clinical recommendations is complex and needs to be evidence-based rather than belief-based. This can be challenging when a hot-button topic is involved.
    Keywords:  Controversy; Guidelines; Mortality; Obesity
  2. PeerJ. 2021 ;9 e11417
      We studied journal articles published by researchers at all eight New Zealand universities in 2017 to determine how many were freely accessible on the web. We wrote software code to harvest data from multiple sources, code that we now share to enable others to reproduce our work on their own sample set. In May 2019, we ran our code to determine which of the 2017 articles were open at that time and by what method; where those articles would have incurred an Article Processing Charge (APC) we calculated the cost if those charges had been paid. Where articles were not freely available we determined whether the policies of publishers in each case would have allowed deposit in a non-commercial repository (Green open access). We also examined citation rates for different types of access. We found that, of our 2017 sample set, about two out of every five articles were freely accessible without payment or subscription (41%). Where research was explicitly said to be funded by New Zealand's major research funding agencies, the proportion was slightly higher at 45%. Where open articles would have incurred an APC we estimated an average cost per article of USD1,682 (for publications where all articles require an APC, that is, Gold open access) and USD2,558 (where APC payment is optional, Hybrid open access) at a total estimated cost of USD1.45m. Of the paid options, Gold is by far more common for New Zealand researchers (82% Gold, 18% Hybrid). In terms of citations, our analysis aligned with previous studies that suggest a correlation between publications being freely accessible and, on balance, slightly higher rates of citation. This is not seen across all types of open access, however, with Diamond OA achieving the lowest rates. Where articles were not freely accessible we found that a very large majority of them (88% or 3089 publications) could have been legally deposited in an institutional repository. Similarly, only in a very small number of cases had a version deposited in the repository of a New Zealand university made the difference between the publication being freely accessible or not (125 publications). Given that most New Zealand researchers support research being open, there is clearly a large gap between belief and practice in New Zealand's research ecosystem.
    Keywords:  API; Article Processing Charges (APC); Citation advantage; Green Open Access; Hybrid Open Access; Open Access; Open Access policy; Repositories; Scholarly communication; author’s rights
  3. Res Involv Engagem. 2021 Jun 14. 7(1): 39
      BACKGROUND: Access to, and awareness of, appropriate authorship criteria is an important right for patient partners. Our objective was to measure medical journal Editors-in-Chief' perceptions of including patients as (co-)authors on research publications and to measure their views on the application of the ICMJE (International Committee of Medical Journals Editors) authorship criteria to patient partners.METHODS: We conducted a cross-sectional survey co-developed with a patient partner. Editors-in-Chief of English-language medical journals were identified via a random sample of journals obtained from the Scopus source list. The key outcome measures were whether Editors-in-Chief believed: 1) patient partners should be (co-)authors and; 2) whether they felt the ICMJE criteria for authorship required modification for use with patient partners. We also measured Editors-in-Chief description of how their journal's operations incorporate patient partner perspectives.
    RESULTS: One hundred twelve Editors-in-Chief responded to our survey (18.7% response rate; 66.69% male). Participants were able to skip any questions they did not want to answer, so there is missing data for some items. 69.2% (N = 74) of Editors-in-Chief indicated it was acceptable for patient partners to be authors or co-authors on published biomedical research articles, with the remaining 30.8% (N = 33) indicating this would not be appropriate. When asked specifically about the ICMJE authorship criteria, and whether this should be revised to be more inclusive of patient partners, 35.8% (N = 39) indicated it should be revised, 35.8% (N = 39) indicated it should not be revised, and 28.4% (N = 31) were unsure about a revision. 74.1% (N = 80) of Editors-in-Chief did not think patients should be required to have an academic affiliation to published while 16.7% (N = 18) and 9.3% (N = 10) indicated they should or were unsure. 3.6% (N = 4) of Editors-in-Chief indicated their journal had a policy that specifies how patients or patient partners should be considered as authors.
    CONCLUSIONS: Our findings highlight gaps that may act as barriers to patient partner participation in research. A key implication is the need for education and for consensus building within the biomedical community to establish processes that will facilitate equitable patient partners inclusion.
    Keywords:  Authorship; Authorship criteria; Authorship policy; Patient involvement; Publication best practices; Publication ethics
  4. Integr Med Res. 2021 Dec;10(4): 100731
      Background: The COVID-19 pandemic is placing significant pressure on national and international health organizations and the measures taken to combat it are having many impacts beyond health. At the same time, misleading communication practices and what has been called an "infodemic" by the World Health Organization have been hampering the uptake of coronavirus-related scientific information. Moreover, public awareness about the dangers of the infodemic remains poor, and misinformation may lead to hazardous behaviours. We therefore analysed factors potentially undermining communication of scientific evidence and proposed strategies to counteract this phenomenon.Methods: We sought official academic and institutional publications of any type, published in English and analyzed their approaches to communication used during the pandemic.
    Results: The factors that might undermine appropriate communication include but are not limited to (a) the exponential increase of COVID-19-related publications, often including biases in the peer-review and editorial process; (b) the role of traditional media; (c) politicization of the virus; and (d) the impact of social media. We argue that evidence synthesis and knowledge translation are useful tools to communicate accurate scientific evidence to decision-makers.
    Conclusion: Clear and concise messages in this form can help decision-makers to interpret data correctly, take consequent actions, and avoid being compromised by low-quality or even misleading information.
    Keywords:  Evidence-based; Infodemic; Scientific communication; Social media
  5. Elife. 2021 Jun 16. pii: e67528. [Epub ahead of print]10
      Research in many different areas of medicine will benefit from new approaches to peer review and publishing.
    Keywords:  medicine; peer review; physician-scientists; preprints; public health
  6. Ann Surg. 2021 Jun 16.
      OBJECTIVES: A courtesy author is an individual who has not met authorship criteria but is listed as an author. This practice is common and often seen as victimless. Because publications are used for funding and promotion decisions, it is critical to understand biases in this practice.METHODS: An anonymous survey was conducted from March to October 2020 of first and senior authors of publications from 2014 to 2015 in 8 surgical journals. Authors were surveyed about demographic data, practice setting, and courtesy author practices.
    RESULTS THREE HUNDRED FORTYONE: authors responded (16% response rate). 75% were from academic practice settings. 14% reported adding courtesy authors 5 or more times in the past year. Courtesy authors were more often male (80%, P = 0.023), older (75%), and of higher academic rank (65%) than first/senior authors. All author groups were >75% white. When a reason was reported, 46% added a courtesy author due to avoid retaliation; 64% to avoid awkwardness. 26% expected reciprocal authorship offers. 92% of respondents acknowledge understanding International Committee of Medical Journal Editors authorship criteria. Women were less common among those added from goodwill than those added from fear (P = 0.039.) When courtesy authors were of a lower rank than first/senior authors, they were nearly twice as likely to be female (P = 0.0056) or non-white (P = 0.0184.).
    CONCLUSION: Courtesy authors were more often male, older, and higher rank than first/senior authors. Fear of career consequences was a major motivator for including courtesy authors. Understanding the motivations and pressures leading to courtesy authorship will help to correct this practice.
  7. Nature. 2021 Jun;594(7863): 301-302
    Keywords:  Careers; Lab life; Publishing; Research management; SARS-CoV-2
  8. Nature. 2021 Jun;594(7863): 459-462
    Keywords:  Authorship; Careers; Research management
  9. Nature. 2021 Jun;594(7863): 462-463
    Keywords:  Careers; Communication; Publishing
  10. Public Underst Sci. 2021 Jun 16. 9636625211019312
      Science amplifier platforms such as The Conversation have gained popularity in a changing media ecosystem in which the traditional roles of journalists are eroded, and scientists are urged to engage with society. The Conversation constitutes a blend of scientific communication, public science communication and science journalism, and a convergence of the professional worlds of science and journalism. In this study, we investigated the nature and impact of the Africa-focussed edition of this platform, The Conversation Africa. We analysed articles published over a 5-year period since its launch in 2015 (N = 5392). Contents from South Africa dominate the platform, but contributions from other African countries are increasing. Regarding the role of The Conversation Africa as an inter-media agenda setter, mainstream media more often republished stories related to politics or economics, while stories about social issues such as education, conservation and art were more often shared on social media.
    Keywords:  science and media; science communication; science journalism
  11. PLoS One. 2021 ;16(6): e0253226
      This paper provides an institutional and empirical analysis of the highly concentrated market of academic publishing, characterized by over proportionally high profit margins for publishing companies. The availability of latest research findings is an important issue for researchers, universities and politicians alike. Open access (OA) publication provides a promising but also costly solution to overcome this problem. However, in this paper we argue that OA publication costs are an important, but by far not the only way for academic publishers to gain access to public funding. In contrast, our study provides a comprehensive overview of the channels through which public expenditure benefits big academic publishing companies. Furthermore, we offer the results of an explorative case study, where we estimate the annual financial flows of public expenditures in Austria for the field of social sciences. In all, these expenditures add up to about 66.55 to 103.2 million € a year, which amounts to a fourth of total public funding for this field. Against this background, we contribute to the debate whether and to what extent public subsidies are justified for economically successful companies.
  12. Bioethics. 2021 Jun 16.
      In June 2017, Japanese and Korean authors published the results of the CREATE-X trial in the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM). After we identified their inadequate disclosures of Financial Conflict of Interests (FCOIs), the authors made a post-publication correction of their FCOIs. The purpose of this study is to evaluate the accuracy of the post-publication corrections by the Japanese authors of the CREATE-X trial. All the Japanese authors of the CREATE-X trial were included in the study. We determined the payments received by these authors in 2016 using publicly available data published by 78 pharmaceutical companies based on the stipulated Japanese transparency guidelines. We retrieved the original and revised versions of the FCOI disclosures as published on the NEJM website, and compared the payments reported by the pharmaceutical companies and the original and revised FCOI disclosures of the authors. Of the 12 authors, nine received payments made by the drug manufacturer involved in the CREATE-X trial. Of these nine, only three (33.3%) originally disclosed their relationships, and another three (33.3%) later disclosed such relationships in the post-publication corrections. Similarly, of the 11 receiving at least one payment from other manufacturers of breast cancer products, none correctly disclosed the payments in the original or the revised disclosure. In the CREATE-X trial, FCOIs with pharmaceutical companies were not properly disclosed by 11 of the 12 Japanese authors, even after the post-publication corrections, which highlights the need to pay more attention to the accuracy of FCOI disclosures in academic publications.
    Keywords:  CREATE-X trial; Japan; breast cancer; conflict of interest; pharmaceutical company