bims-skolko Biomed News
on Scholarly communication
Issue of 2022‒02‒27
twenty papers selected by
Thomas Krichel
Open Library Society

  1. J Clin Epidemiol. 2022 Feb 20. pii: S0895-4356(22)00044-0. [Epub ahead of print]
      OBJECTIVES: To assess the policies of biomedical preprint servers on the reporting of funding, conflict of interest (COI), author contributions, and research integrity.STUDY DESIGN AND SETTING: We generated a list of potentially eligible preprint servers then judged their eligibility in duplicate and independently. Between July and September 2021, we extracted information from the websites of these servers in duplicate and independently and through a simulated submission.
    RESULTS: We included 37 preprint servers. A variable percentage of these servers had policies for reporting of funding (43%), disclosure of COI (78%), specification of authors' contributions (54%), and research integrity (76%). While 97% of the COI policies required authors to disclose their own interests, only 7% addressed interests related to family members. About a third of authors' contribution policies (30%) did not specify the types of contributions to report. While a majority of research integrity polices described screening checks for plagiarism (71%), a minority described screening checks for fabrication (39%), falsification (36%), and image manipulation (32%).
    CONCLUSION: Less than half of biomedical preprint servers have policies on reporting on funding. Policies related to COI disclosure, reporting of author contributions, and research integrity lack important details.
    Keywords:  authorship; conflict of interest; funding; preprint server; preprints; research integrity
  2. PLoS One. 2022 ;17(2): e0264131
      The integrity of peer review is essential for modern science. Numerous studies have therefore focused on identifying, quantifying, and mitigating biases in peer review. One of these better-known biases is prestige bias, where the recognition of a famous author or affiliation leads reviewers to subconsciously treat their submissions preferentially. A common mitigation approach for prestige bias is double-blind reviewing, where the identify of authors is hidden from reviewers. However, studies on the effectivness of this mitigation are mixed and are rarely directly comparable to each other, leading to difficulty in generalization of their results. In this paper, we explore the design space for such studies in an attempt to reach common ground. Using an observational approach with a large dataset of peer-reviewed papers in computer systems, we systematically evaluate the effects of different prestige metrics, aggregation methods, control variables, and outlier treatments. We show that depending on these choices, the data can lead to contradictory conclusions with high statistical significance. For example, authors with higher h-index often preferred to publish in competitive conferences which are also typically double-blind, whereas authors with higher paper counts often preferred the single-blind conferences. The main practical implication of our analyses is that a narrow evaluation may lead to unreliable results. A thorough evaluation of prestige bias requires a careful inventory of assumptions, metrics, and methodology, often requiring a more detailed sensitivity analysis than is normally undertaken. Importantly, two of the most commonly used metrics for prestige evaluation, past publication count and h-index, are not independent from the choice of publishing venue, which must be accounted for when comparing authors prestige across conferences.
  3. Sci Eng Ethics. 2022 Feb 23. 28(2): 10
      Relying on data collected by the Zurich Survey of Academics (ZSoA), a unique representative online survey among academics in Germany, Austria, and Switzerland (DACH region), this paper replicates Johann and Mayer's (Minerva 57(2):175-196, 2019) analysis of researchers' perceptions of scientific authorship and expands their scope. The primary goals of the study at hand are to learn more about (a) country differences in perceptions of scientific authorship, as well as (b) the influence of perceived publication pressure on authorship perceptions. The results indicate that academics in Switzerland interpret scientific authorship more leniently than their colleagues in Germany and Austria. The findings further indicate that, as perceived pressure to publish increases, researchers are more likely to belong to a group of academics who hold the view that any type of contribution/task justifies co-authorship, including even those contributions/tasks that do not justify co-authorship according to most authorship guidelines. In summary, the present study suggests that action is required to harmonize regulations for scientific authorship and to improve the research culture.
    Keywords:  Austria; Authorship perceptions; Germany; Pressure to publish; Science studies; Scientific authorship; Switzerland
  4. World Neurosurg. 2022 Feb 18. pii: S1878-8750(22)00198-X. [Epub ahead of print]
      INTRODUCTION: Predatory journals (PJs) publish research with little to no rigorous peer review in exchange for money. It is unclear what proportion of researchers are vulnerable to PJs and which factors are associated with vulnerability. In this study, the authors evaluate the vulnerability of African neurosurgery researchers to PJs and identify their correlates.METHODS: A three-part English and French e-surveys were distributed via social media to African consultants and trainees from November 01 to December 01, 2021. Chi-Square, Mann-Whitney U test, Spearman's Rho correlation, odds ratios, and 95% confidence intervals evaluated bivariable relationships. A p-value <0.05 was considered statistically significant.
    RESULTS: One hundred and one participants with a mean age of 34.9 years responded to the survey (response rate=56.1%). Respondents were male (n=83, 82.2%), consultant neurosurgeons (n=39, 38.6%), and from Central Africa (n=34, 33.7%). Sixty-six respondents had published one or more articles in the past, and 13 had published at least one article in a PJ. A PJ had contacted 34 respondents via email, and eight had reviewed articles for a PJ. Nineteen respondents knew about Think. Check. Submit. and 13 knew Beall's list. Publication in PJs was correlated with the respondents' age (R=0.23, P=0.02) and total scholarly output (R=0.38, P<001).
    CONCLUSION: Young African neurosurgery researchers are vulnerable to PJs primarily because they are not familiar with the concept of PJs or how to identify them.
    Keywords:  Africa; neurosurgery; predatory journals; survey
  5. Res Integr Peer Rev. 2022 Feb 21. 7(1): 1
      BACKGROUND: The demand for peer reviewers is often perceived as disproportionate to the supply and availability of reviewers. Considering characteristics associated with peer review behaviour can allow for the development of solutions to manage the growing demand for peer reviewers. The objective of this research was to compare characteristics among two groups of reviewers registered in Publons.METHODS: A descriptive cross-sectional study design was used to compare characteristics between (1) individuals completing at least 100 peer reviews ('mega peer reviewers') from January 2018 to December 2018 as and (2) a control group of peer reviewers completing between 1 and 18 peer reviews over the same time period. Data was provided by Publons, which offers a repository of peer reviewer activities in addition to tracking peer reviewer publications and research metrics. Mann Whitney tests and chi-square tests were conducted comparing characteristics (e.g., number of publications, number of citations, word count of peer review) of mega peer reviewers to the control group of reviewers.
    RESULTS: A total of 1596 peer reviewers had data provided by Publons. A total of 396 M peer reviewers and a random sample of 1200 control group reviewers were included. A greater proportion of mega peer reviews were male (92%) as compared to the control reviewers (70% male). Mega peer reviewers demonstrated a significantly greater average number of total publications, citations, receipt of Publons awards, and a higher average h index as compared to the control group of reviewers (all p < .001). We found no statistically significant differences in the number of words between the groups (p > .428).
    CONCLUSIONS: Mega peer reviewers registered in the Publons database also had a higher number of publications and citations as compared to a control group of reviewers. Additional research that considers motivations associated with peer review behaviour should be conducted to help inform peer reviewing activity.
    Keywords:  Characteristics of reviewers; Peer review; Publons
  6. Perspect Med Educ. 2022 Feb 22.
      INTRODUCTION: Scholarship is a key activity in health professions education (HPE). When disseminating scholarly work, how one selects the journal to which they submit is often argued to be a key determinant of subsequent success. To draw more evidence-based recommendations in this regard, we surveyed successful scholars working in HPE regarding their perspectives and experiences with journal selection.METHODS: We conducted an international survey of HPE scholars, investigating their decisions regarding journal choice. Corresponding authors were identified from a sample of 4000 papers published in 2019 and 2020. They were invited via email with up to four reminders. We describe their experience and use principle component and regression analyses to identify factors associated with successful acceptance.
    RESULTS: In total, 863 responses were received (24.7% response rate), 691 of which were included in our analyses. Two thirds of respondents had their manuscripts accepted at their first-choice journal with revisions required in 98% of cases. We identified six priority factors when choosing journals. In descending order of importance, they were: fit, impact, editorial reputation, speed of dissemination, breadth of dissemination, and guidance from others. Authors who prioritised fit higher and who selected a journal earlier were more likely to have their manuscripts accepted at their first-choice journal.
    DISCUSSION: Based on our results we make three recommendations for authors when writing manuscripts: do not be disheartened by a revise decision, consider journal choice early in the research process, and use the fit between your manuscript and the journal as the main factor driving journal choice.
    Keywords:  Medical education; Publishing; Scholarship; Survey
  7. F1000Res. 2021 ;10 1126
      A large part of governmental research funding is currently distributed through the peer review of project proposals. In this paper, we argue that such funding systems incentivize and even force researchers to violate five moral values, each of which is central to commonly used scientific codes of conduct. Our argument complements existing epistemic arguments against peer-review project funding systems and, accordingly, strengthens the mounting calls for reform of these systems.
    Keywords:  ethics of funding; grant review; peer review; project funding; research ethics; science funding
  8. Tomography. 2022 Feb 18. 8(1): 540-542
      Manuscript reviewers and the accuracy of the review process are fundamental to the quality of a scientific journal [...].
  9. J Med Libr Assoc. 2022 Jan 01. 110(1): 63-71
      Objectives: Systematic reviews and meta-analyses (SRs/MAs) are designed to be rigorous research methodologies that synthesize information and inform practice. An increase in their publication runs parallel to quality concerns and a movement toward standards to improve reporting and methodology. With the goal of informing the guidance librarians provide to SR/MA teams, this study assesses online journal author guidelines from an institutional sample to determine whether these author guidelines address SR/MA methodological quality.Methods: A Web of Science Core Collection (Clarivate) search identified SRs/MAs published in 2014-2019 by authors affiliated with a single institution. The AMSTAR 2 checklist was used to develop an assessment tool of closed questions specific to measures for SR/MA methodological quality in author guidelines, with questions added about author guidelines in general. Multiple reviewers completed the assessment.
    Results: The author guidelines of 141 journals were evaluated. Less than 20% addressed at least one of the assessed measures specific to SR/MA methodological quality. There was wide variation in author guidelines between journals from the same publisher apart from the American Medical Association, which consistently offered in-depth author guidelines. Normalized Eigenfactor and Article Influence Scores did not indicate author guideline breadth.
    Conclusions: Most author guidelines in the institutional sample did not address SR/MA methodological quality. When consulting with teams embarking on SRs/MAs, librarians should not expect author guidelines to provide details about the requirements of the target journals. Librarians should advise teams to follow established SR/MA standards, contact journal staff, and review SRs/MAs previously published in the journal.
    Keywords:  author instructions; journal requirements; meta-analysis; publishing; research methodology; systematic review
  10. Arch Phys Med Rehabil. 2022 Feb 19. pii: S0003-9993(22)00227-1. [Epub ahead of print]
      OBJECTIVE: Primary: 1) To evaluate the completeness of reporting of randomized controlled trials (RCTs) published in rehabilitation journals through the evaluation of the adherence to the CONSORT checklist, 2) to investigate the relationship between reporting and risk of bias (ROB). Secondary: to study the association between completeness of reporting and the characteristics of studies and journals.DATA SOURCES: A random sample of 200 RCTs published between 2011 and 2020 in 68 rehabilitation journals indexed under the "rehabilitation" category in the InCites Journal Citation Report.
    STUDY SELECTION: One reviewer evaluated the completeness of reporting operationalised as the adherence to the CONSORT checklist. Two independent reviewers evaluated the ROB using the Cochrane ROB 2.0 tool.
    DATA EXTRACTION: Overall adherence and adherence to each CONSORT section were calculated. Regression analyses investigated the association between completeness of reporting, ROB and other characteristics (quartile range, publication modalities and study protocol registration).
    DATA SYNTHESIS: The mean overall CONSORT adherence across studies was 65%. Studies with high ROB have less adherence than those with low ROB (-5.5%; CI -10.9; -0.0). There was a 10.2% (CI% 6.2; 14.3) increase in adherence if the RCT protocol was registered. Studies published in first quartile journals displayed an overall adherence of 11.7% (CI% 17.1; 6.4) higher than those published in the fourth quartile.
    CONCLUSION: Reporting completeness is still suboptimal and it is associated with ROB, journal impact ranking and registration of the study protocol. Trial authors should improve adherence to the CONSORT guideline and journal editors should adopt new strategies to improve the reporting.
    Keywords:  Meta-research; Rehabilitation; Reporting guidelines; randomized controlled trial; research quality; risk of bias
  11. Br J Sports Med. 2022 Feb 22. pii: bjsports-2021-105058. [Epub ahead of print]
      The REPORT guide is a 'How to' guide to help you report your clinical research in an effective and transparent way. It is intended to supplement established first choice reporting tools, such as Consolidated Standards of Reporting Trials (CONSORT), by adding tacit knowledge (ie, learnt, informal or implicit knowledge) about reporting topics that we have struggled with as authors or see others struggle with as journal reviewers or editors. We focus on the randomised controlled trial, but the guide also applies to other study designs. Topics included in the REPORT guide cover reporting checklists, trial report structure, choice of title, writing style, trial registry and reporting consistency, spin or reporting bias, transparent data presentation (figures), open access considerations, data sharing and more. Preprint (open access):
    Keywords:  education; methods; randomized controlled trial; research; sports medicine
  12. Nat Neurosci. 2022 Feb 21.
      We reviewed publicly available information from the top 50 journals worldwide in psychology and neuroscience to infer the proportions of editors by gender and country of affiliation. In both fields, the proportions of male and female editors differed significantly, both across editorial roles and within various role categories. Moreover, for 76% of psychology journals and 88% of neuroscience journals more than 50% of editors were male, whereas only 20% and 10%, respectively, had a similar proportion of female editors. US-based academics outnumbered those from other countries as editors in both psychology and neuroscience beyond what would be expected from approximate rates of senior psychology and neuroscience scholars worldwide. Our findings suggest that editorial positions in academic journals-possibly one of the most powerful decision-making roles in academic psychology and neuroscience-are balanced in neither gender nor geographical representation.
  13. Nature. 2022 Feb;602(7898): 566-570
    Keywords:  Databases; Ethics; Publishing; Society
  14. BMJ Open. 2022 Feb 25. 12(2): e057854
      OBJECTIVE: To assess whether editorial desk rejection at general medical journals (without peer review) of two clinical research manuscripts may relate to author gender or women's physiology topics. Given evidence for bias related to women in science and medicine, and editorial board attitudes, our hypothesis was that submissions by women authors, on women's reproductive, non-disease topics received differential editorial assessment.DESIGN: A prospective investigation of publications, author gender and topics in general medical journals in two issues following the editorial rejections of two clinical research manuscripts by five major English-language general medical journals. The rejected manuscripts (subsequently published in lower impact journals) described research funded by national granting bodies, in population-based samples, authored by well-published women scientists at accredited institutions and describing innovative women's reproductive physiology results.
    SETTING: Tertiary academic medical centre.
    MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: All clinical research published in the two issues following rejection date by each of the five major general medical journals were examined for first/senior author gender. The publication topic was assessed for its gendered population relevance, whether disease or physiology focused, and its funding. Rejection letters assessed editor gender and status.
    RESULTS: Women were underrepresented as original research authors; men were 84% of senior and 69% of first authors. There were no, non-disease focused publications relating to women's health, although most topics were relevant to both genders. The majority (80%) of rejection letters appeared to be written by junior-ranked women editors.
    CONCLUSION: Sex/gender accountability is necessary for clinical research-based editorial decisions by major general medical journals. Suggestions to improve gender equity in general medical journal publication: (1) an editorial board sex/gender champion with power to advocate for manuscripts that are well-performed research of relevance to women's health/physiology; (2) an editorial rejection adjudication committee to review author challenges; and (3) gender parity in double-blind peer review.
    Keywords:  Gender Equity; Publication Bias; Women's Health; clinical physiology; epidemiology
  15. J Med Libr Assoc. 2022 Jan 01. 110(1): 47-55
      Objective: Systematic reviews and other evidence syntheses, the pinnacle of the evidence pyramid, embody comprehensiveness and rigor; however, retracted data are being incorporated into these publications. This study examines the use of retracted publications in the field of pharmacy, describes characteristics of retracted publications cited by systematic reviews, and discusses factors associated with citation likelihood.Methods: Using data from Retraction Watch, we identified retracted publications in the pharmacy field. We identified all articles citing these retracted publications in Web of Science and Scopus and limited results to systematic reviews. We classified the retraction reason, determined whether the citation occurred before or after retraction, and analyzed factors associated with the likelihood of systematic reviews citing a retracted publication.
    Results: Of 1,396 retracted publications, 283 were cited 1,096 times in systematic reviews. Most (65.0%) (712/1096) citations occurred before retraction. Citations were most often to items retracted due to data falsification or manipulation (39.2%), followed by items retracted due to ethical misconduct including plagiarism (30.4%), or concerns about or errors in data or methods (26.2%). Compared to those not cited in systematic reviews, cited items were significantly more likely to be retracted due to data falsification and manipulation, were published in high impact factor journals, and had longer delays between publication and retraction.
    Conclusions: Further analysis of systematic reviews citing retracted publications is needed to determine the impact of flawed data. Librarians understand the nuances involved and can advocate for greater transparency around the retraction process and increase awareness of challenges posed by retractions.
    Keywords:  evidence-based pharmacy practice; pharmacy; publishing; research; retraction of publication as topic; systematic reviews as topic
  16. Public Underst Sci. 2022 Feb 23. 9636625221077392
      Preprints have gained prominence in the dissemination of scientific findings. This development has been reinforced by the COVID-19 pandemic, which continues to require the rapid dissemination of new scientific information. However, since preprints usually have not undergone peer review, they lack the rigour of other scientific publications such as journal articles. This presents a challenge for the news media tasked with keeping the public informed about the latest scientific developments in the context of great uncertainty during a global pandemic. This research note investigates the reporting of scientific information from preprints in 80 news articles identified in news articles related to COVID-19 published in four South African online media outlets. Our results show that despite the publication of guidelines for reporting on preprints in the media, there is still a way to go regarding the judicious use of scientific information from preprints by the news media.
    Keywords:  COVID-19; media representations; preprints; science journalism
  17. J Med Libr Assoc. 2022 Jan 01. 110(1): 1-4
      The Journal of the Medical Library Association (JMLA) selects new editorial board members every year. In the spring of 2021, JMLA used a new process for reviewing and selecting applicants for the limited number of open editorial board positions. This reevaluation of the selection process was spurred by a desire to create a more diverse and representative board. Changes to the procedures for selecting new editorial board members included having an open call for editorial board members, creating an application form, creating a selection committee to screen applicants, creating a form for the selection committee to extract data from applications, and creating a two-step process for screening and then selecting board members. As part of construction of this new process, areas for continued improvement were also identified, such as refining the application form to allow more specific answers to areas of interest to the selection committee. The newly created selection process for editorial board members constitutes a significant change in JMLA processes; however, more can be done to build on this work by further refining the selection process and ensuring that new members are selected in a transparent and streamlined manner.
    Keywords:  diversity; editorial board; equity
  18. Contemp Clin Trials. 2022 Feb 16. pii: S1551-7144(22)00035-0. [Epub ahead of print] 106709
      BACKGROUND: This survey of COVID-19 interventional studies encompasses, and expands upon, a previous publication [1] examining individual participant level data (IPD) sharing intentions for COVID-related trials and publications prior to June 30, 2020.METHODS: Replicating our inclusion criteria from the original survey, we evaluated a larger dataset of 2759 trials and 281 publications in this follow-up survey for willingness to share IPD and studied if sharing sentiment has evolved since the beginning of the pandemic.
    RESULTS: We found that 18 months into the pandemic, data sharing intentions remained static at 15% for trials registered through ( is a digital registry of information about publicly and privately funded clinical studies in which human volunteers participate in interventional or observational scientific research) prior to September 19, 2021 compared to our initial survey. However, a comparison of declared intentions to share IPD at the time of publication revealed a noticeable shift: affirmative intentions grew from 21.4% (6/28) in our original publications survey to 57% (160/281) in this survey. Within the subset of studies published within journals affiliated with the International Committee of Medical Journal Editors (ICMJE), positive sharing intentions are even higher (65%).
    CONCLUSIONS: Although intent to share data at the time of registration has not changed from our prior study in June 2020, there is growing commitment to sharing data reflected in the increasing number of affirmative declarations at the time of publication. Actual sharing of data will accelerate new insights into COVID-19 through secondary re-use of data.
    Keywords:  COVID-19;; Data sharing; IPD
  19. FEMS Microbiol Lett. 2022 Feb 23. pii: fnac007. [Epub ahead of print]
      Antony van Leeuwenhoek's entire output is contained in the hundreds of letters that he wrote from 1673 to 1723. This article discusses the content, features, and circumstances of the letters and their contemporary publishing history, especially in the Royal Society's Philosophical Transactions, as well as a brief history of the project begun in 1932 to publish a complete edition of Leeuwenhoek's letters in Dutch and English translation with linguistic, scientific, and historical annotations.
    Keywords:  Alle de Brieven; Leeuwenhoek; collected letters; letters; philosophical transactions; royal society