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Catching up on Embargo Watch & Retraction Watch gems

On the Embargo Watch blog, Ivan Oransky keeps chipping away at the question of whose interests are served by embargoes.

In “Break a JAMA embargo, get blacklisted.  Then what?” he writes:

Adam Feuerstein and Patricia Anstett are part of an elite journalism club.

They’ve both been blacklisted by the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), accused of breaking embargoes.

That means the journal will no longer send either of them embargoed material. How did they earn such a punishment, and what effect has it had on their reporting? I caught up with both of them yesterday to find out.

Read the rest of the piece to get the rest of the story.

Then, over on the Retraction Watch blog that Oransky co-publishes with Adam Marcus, there’s this piece: “Researchers: Stop the spin and boasting in articles, say other researchers.” Excerpt:

Researchers often like to complain that science journalists puff up their results to sell newspapers. And there’s no question that reporters make missteps. But a commentary published today in the Archives of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicinebrings to mind the old saying about those who live in glass houses not casting the first stones.

In a piece called “Spin and Boasting in Research Articles,” Peter Cummings and Frederick Rivara, two University of Washington faculty members, write:

Some authors exaggerate the importance of their research and unfairly denigrate other studies. This occurs only in a minority of articles we review but is frequent enough that we have collected examples and grouped them into categories.

For example:

Hackneyed phrases do not make the writer appear thoughtful, are boring for the reader, and take up space. Consider whether the reader needs to once again hear that obesity is common, diabetes is increasing, and that the cost of medical care is a problem. We think not.

Then there are the boasts:

Boasts of being first are common. Some are inadvertently amusing because they have so many qualifiers, like bragging about being the oldest left-handed person to walk backward up the Washington Monument.

All of this leads the authors to urge:

Writing for scientific journals should be as clean and concise as possible. Leave spin and boasting to others.

It’s difficult to keep up with the good stuff that these two blogs generate frequently.  Best if you bookmark them, grab their RSS feeds and make it a habit to go there yourself.

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