Health and Medical News and Resources

General interest items edited by Janice Flahiff

Elsevier’s Publishing Model Might be About to Go Up in Smoke – Forbes

Elsevier’s Publishing Model Might be About to Go Up in Smoke – Forbes 

From the 28 January 2012 article

Academic publishing is a very good game indeed if you can manage to get into it. As the publisher the work is created at the expense of others, for free to you. There are no advances, no royalties, to pay. The editing, the checking, the decisions about whether to publish, these are all also done for free to you. And the market, that’s every college libarary in the world and they’re very price insensitive indeed….

There’s not much new about this analysis and investors in Reed Elsevier, the owners of Elsevier, either do or should know all of this.

However, there’s something happening that might change this, for Reed Elsevier shareholders, quite delightful position. That is, a revolt of the academics who provide both the papers and the readership.

A start was made by British mathematician Tim Gowers, in a blog post here. That wasn’t the very start, but it looks like one of those pebbles that starts the avalanche rather than the one that just tumbles down the hillside. And there’s a great deal to be said for a scientific post which references Spike Milligan‘s superb book, Adolf Hitler, My Part in his Downfall.

As he says:

“I am not only going to refuse to have anything to do with Elsevier journals from now on, but I am saying so publicly. I am by no means the first person to do this, but the more of us there are, the more socially acceptable it becomes, and that is my main reason for writing this post,”

There is now a petition running for academics to sign up to this, here….

Read the entire article here

January 31, 2012 Posted by | Librarian Resources | , , , | Leave a comment

Open science: change is coming to how scientists communicate research findings

English: Open Access logo and text

Image via WikipediaAuthor - art designer at PLoS, I converted a pdf into svg http://www.plos.org/

How Scientists Communicate Affects How Research Results Are Applied …as FDA approved drugs, nutrition values, violence prevention, and climate change models

Past blog postings (see below) here have often touched on the difficulties of  obtaining recent scientific and medical findings in original biomedical articles.  Most of these research articles are only found in journals that charge high annual subscription rates ($600.00/ year and up) or an access fee of about $20.00 per article.

Not only is this pricing arrangement making it difficult for scientists to get needed information, but it is becoming nearly impossible for even university and research libraries to buy subscription to the journals their customers want. Additionally article authors must pay publication fees to the journals which range from $1,000  to $5,000 per article.

Most stakeholders (researchers, librarians, publishing companies) believe that the relatively high costs of publishing articles is a major flaw of the current publishing system. These publishing costs used to be born by the researcher in centuries past and were relatively cheap and involved much fewer scientists in tight knit groups. But with the sheer numbers of those wanting information, the many biomedical specialities, and the sophistication of article content (images, videos, and audios), the cost per article has dramatically risen.

Some related statistics (from the posting How many science journals at Science Intelligence and InfoPros)

  • Estimation: <> 25-40,000 journals
  • 96% are published online
  • 8-10% are published under Open Access models
  • 20% of science articles are available free of charge
  • How many articles have been published ever (means since 1665)? est. 50 millions
  • Growth: 1.4 million of articles per year
  • There are 2,000 publishers but Top 3 (Elsevier, Springer, Wiley)  account for 42% of articles published

The open science model is one initiative which may reduce costs and increase readership. This approach may well also drastically reduce the time from article completion by the scientist to article publication. It is currently not uncommon for an article in a peer reviewed journal to take up to  1 1/2 years to be published after submission.

In a recent New York Times article (Cracking Open the Scientific Process), the conservative culture of science is outlined, as well as the plausibility of using social media as vehicles of communicating research results. The article also summarizes another fear of scientists. While social media is a less costly and speedier way to communicate research approaches and results, it currently lacks the quality control and trustability of the peer review process in selecting and editing articles for publication.

While Open Science overwhelmingly is geared for  scientist participation only, the way scientists communicate does ultimately affect the application of research. Examples in consumer health  include the drugs we take, the way treatments are prescribed, and the make up of a well balanced diet.  Current questions about the Open Science model include how wise is the scientific equivalent of crowdsourcing? and who will pay for the costs involved and how much?

Some excerpts from the article

The system is hidebound, expensive and elitist, they say. Peer review can take months, journal subscriptions can be prohibitively costly, and a handful of gatekeepers limit the flow of information. It is an ideal system for sharing knowledge, said the quantum physicist Michael Nielsen, only “if you’re stuck with 17th-century technology.”

Dr. Nielsen and other advocates for “open science” say science can accomplish much more, much faster, in an environment of friction-free collaboration over the Internet. And despite a host of obstacles, including the skepticism of many established scientists, their ideas are gaining traction.

Open-access archives and journals like arXiv and thePublic Library of Science (PLoS) have sprung up in recent years. GalaxyZoo, a citizen-science site, has classified millions of objects in space, discovering characteristics that have led to a raft of scientific papers….

…a social networking site called ResearchGate — where scientists can answer one another’s questions, share papers and find collaborators — is rapidly gaining popularity…

ScienceOnline2012  …On Thursday [January 19] , 450 bloggers, journalists, students, scientists, librarians and programmers will converge on North Carolina State University (and thousands more will join in online) for the sixth annual ScienceOnline conference. Science is moving to a collaborative model, said Bora Zivkovic, a chronobiology blogger who is a founder of the conference, “because it works better in the current ecosystem, in the Web-connected world.”…

ResearchGate…[The Research Gate] Web site is a sort of mash-up of Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, with profile pages, comments, groups, job listings, and “like” and “follow” buttons (but without baby photos, cat videos and thinly veiled self-praise). Only scientists are invited to pose and answer questions — a rule that should not be hard to enforce, with discussion threads about topics like polymerase chain reactions that only a scientist could love….

Related past postings at Health and Medical News…

January 21, 2012 Posted by | Biomedical Research Resources | , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Many NIH-funded clinical trials go unpublished over two years after completion (with ClinicalTrials.gov link for many trial study results)

[Flahiff's note:  It is possible that  many of these unpublished clinical trial results would have made a positive difference in many people's lives. These unpublished results have the potential of aiding many researchers. They can prevent unnecessary duplicate trials, point to areas needing more research, and potentially provide groundwork for collaboration.

On another note, it is good to see that published research papers are now more accessible to all.  As of 2008, research papers based on NIH grants must be submitted to PubMed Central (PMC) when those papers are accepted for publication in a peer-reviewed journal. PMC will then make the papers freely available to the public within 12 months of publication.

I look forward to the day when all research papers are freely available to the public.  There are a myriad of issues, as who pays for the publishing, the peer review process, and where the research papers should be "housed". However, I believe the more scientific research results are disseminated in easily accessible format, the more we can advance in technology applications and filling in knowledge gaps.]

Excerpt from the 3 January 2012 article By Karen N. Peart at Yale News

In a study that investigates the challenges of disseminating clinical research findings in peer-reviewed biomedical journals, Yale School of Medicine researchers have found that fewer than half of a sample of trials primarily or partially funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) were published within 30 months of completing the clinical trial.

These findings appear in the January issue of the British Medical Journal, which focuses on the topic of unpublished evidence.

[As of 3 January 2012, the January issue of BMJ was not yet online..however many of the articles may be found at http://www.bmj.com/archive/sevendays]

“When research findings are not disseminated, the scientific process is disrupted and leads to redundant efforts and misconceptions about clinical evidence,” said Dr. Joseph Ross, first author of the study and a Yale assistant professor of medicine. “Such inaction undermines both the trial in question and the evidence available in peer-reviewed medical literature. This has far-reaching implications for policy decisions, and even institutional review board assessments of risks and benefits associated with future research studies.”…

Ross said that there may be many reasons for lack of publication, such as not getting accepted by a journal or not prioritizing the dissemination of research findings. Still, he said, there are alternative methods for providing timely public access to study results, including the results database at ClinicalTrials.gov** that was created in response to Federal law.

[From the About Page at Clinical Trials.gov
US Public Law 110-85 (Food and Drug Administration Amendments Act of 2007 or FDAAA), Title VIII, Section 801 mandates that a "responsible party" (i.e., the study sponsor or designated principal investigator) register and report results of certain "applicable clinical trials" that were initiated or ongoing as of September 27, 2007...]

Related Resource

ClinicalTrials.gov

ClinicalTrials.gov  offers up-to-date information for locating federally and privately supported clinical trials for a wide range of diseases and conditions.

ClinicalTrials.gov currently contains 118,682 trials sponsored by the National Institutes of Health, other federal agencies, and private industry.

**Here is how one can check for study results
(remember, researchers are not mandated to submit study results to ClinicalTrials.gov, they are voluntary)

    • Go to ClinicalTrials.gov
    • Click on Search (upper right corner)
    • Click on Advanced Search
    • Go to Study Results, use drop down menu to select Studies with results
    • Fill out rest of form with as much specific information as you can
      especially search terms, conditions, and/or interventions

ClinicalTrials.gov records with published results listed via the PubMed medical literature search service.  

  •         Use the Advanced Search with the search phrase clinicaltrials.gov[si]

Use the Builder  limit results by topics (as a disease, medical device), year(s), name of researcher/invesitator)

  •         Need help searching? PubMed has tutorials , including a YouTube at the Advanced Search Page

        Ask for assistance from a reference librarian at your local public, academic, hospital, or medical library.
Many academic, hospital, and medical libraries offer at least basic search help to all. Call ahead and ask
about their services. You may be pleasantly surprised.

January 4, 2012 Posted by | Biomedical Research Resources, Finding Aids/Directories, Tutorials/Finding aids | , , , , , , | 2 Comments

The White House Calls for Information on Public Access to Publications and Data « The Scholarly Kitchen

Office of Science and Technology Policy

The White House Calls for Information on Public Access to Publications and Data « The Scholarly Kitchen.

From the blog article at the Scholarly Kitchen

f you’re reading this blog, you likely have an opinion aboutopen access to journal articles and research results. The White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) has put out two formal Requests for Information; one on the subject of “Public Access to Peer-Reviewed Scholarly Publications” and the other on “Public Access to Digital Data.”

While most of us enjoy the seemingly endless back and forth discussion online (or ranting and raving, as the case may be), this is a chance for all stakeholders to have a direct influence where it matters most.  The White House is crafting requirements for recipients of federal research funding and the information received here will be crucial to setting policy.

There are two separate issues here, public access to journal articles from federally-funded research, and the tricky question of how to make the most of the raw data collected in those federally-funded experiments….

December 3, 2011 Posted by | Librarian Resources | , , , | Leave a comment

Computer that can read promises cancer breakthroughs – Telegraph

Computer that can read promises cancer breakthroughs – Telegraph

From the 22 November 2011 article

A computer system that can read scientific papers in a similar way to humans promises breakthroughs in cancer research, according to Cambridge scientists.

By Christopher Williams, Technology Correspondent

Called CRAB, the system is able to trawl through millions of peer-reviewed articles for clues to the causes of tumours. Already, it has uncovered a potential reason why some chemicals induce pancreatic cancer only in men.

CRAB is the latest implementation of a rapidly-emerging form of artificial intelligence called natural language processing, which is also used in the Siri personal assistant software in the iPhone 4S. It allows computers to read texts and derive meaning from them, despite their complexity and abiguities, as humans do.

The system will first be used to assess the risk that new chemicals could cause cancer.

“The first stage of any risk assessment is a literature review. It’s a major bottleneck,” said Dr Anna Korhonen of the University of Cambridge, who led the development of CRAB.

“There could be tens of thousands of articles for a single chemical. Performed manually, it’s expensive and, because of the rising number of publications, it’s becoming too challenging to manage,” she said.

November 22, 2011 Posted by | Health News Items | , , , , | Leave a comment

Impact of free access to the scientific literature, including empowerment of health care consumers

From the 21 July 2011 blog item at  Science Intelligence and InfoPros, by hbasset

An excellent review in the latest JMLA:

The paper reviews recent studies that evaluate the impact of free access (open access) on the behavior of scientists as authors, readers, and citers in developed and developing nations. (…)

  • Researchers report that their access to the scientific literature is generally good and improving (76% of researchers think that it is better now than 5 years ago)
  • Publishers (Elsevier and Oxford UP) reveal an increase in the number of journals available at a typical university and an even larger increase in the article downloads
  • For authors, the access status of a journal is not an important consideration when deciding where to publish (journal reputation is stronger)
  • The high cost of Western scientific journals poses a major barrier to researchers in developing nations
  • There is clear evidence that free access increases the number of article downloads, although its impact on article citations is not clear
  • Recent studies provide little evidence to support the idea that there is a crisis in access to the scholarly literature
  • Author’s resistance to publication fees is a major barrier to greater participation in open access initiatives
  • The empowerment of health care consumers through universal access to original research has ben cited as a key benefit of free access to the scientific literature
  • overall, the published evidence does not indicate how (or whether) free access to the scientific literature influences consumers’ reading or behavior
  • current research reveals no evidence of unmet demand for the primary medical or health sciences literature among the general public
  • most research on access to the scientific literature assumes a traditional and hierarchical flow of information from the publisher to the eader, with the library often serving ans an intermediary betwwen the two. Very little has been done to investigate alternative routes of access to the scientific literature

Davis, Philip M. & Walters, William H. The impact of free access to the scientific literature: a review of recent research. J Med Libr Assoc 99(3):208-17 (2011).
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21753913

available at:
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3133904/

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July 26, 2011 Posted by | Health Education (General Public), Medical and Health Research News | , , , , , | Leave a comment

   

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