Embargo Watch

Keeping an eye on how scientific information embargoes affect news coverage

“Dear press officer who won’t promote unembargoed research papers:” “[Y]ou’re disappointing me”

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hopp

Angela Hopp

Some press officers are making Angela Hopp — and please forgive me for this one, Angela — hopping mad.

In “An open letter to press officers who won’t promote unembargoed research papers,” Hopp, who serves as the press contact for three journals published by the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (ASBMB), explains that at those journals:

All accepted papers are published online immediately, putting them in the public sphere and making them ineligible for embargo.

(I’ll pause there for there a moment and make sure that the press officers who think they can embargo material that’s already freely available online read the part about such studies being “ineligible for embargo.”)

There’s plenty of material in ASBMB’s journals that press officers find of enough interest to press release. But when Hopp contacts some of them, she gets this response: Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Ivan Oransky

August 8, 2014 at 8:30 am

Posted in Uncategorized

Ed Yong vs. a PIO, the sequel

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Ed Yong, courtesy Ed Yong

Ed Yong, courtesy Ed Yong

Long-time Embargo Watch readers — and you reprobates know who you are — may recall a February 2011 post involving science writer Ed Yong and a public information officer (PIO) at the University of Manchester. That episode kicked off with “I think you have all you need for a blog,” and went on from there. Scores of comments later, including many from the PIO, an apology was offered, and accepted.

So all I could think of when I saw a post on Yong’s Facebook page yesterday was, “Ed Yong vs. a PIO, the sequel.” Here’s part of what Yong posted: Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Ivan Oransky

July 31, 2014 at 11:15 am

Posted in Uncategorized

Seralini republishes retracted GMO-rats paper, again with an unusual embargo

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env sci europeIn 2012, when Gilles Seralini and colleagues published a paper in Food and Chemical Toxicology on the effects of GMO maize and the herbicide Roundup on rats, they did something very unusual: They forced reporters who wanted advance copies of the study to agree not to talk to anyone about it before the embargo lifted.

I called that an attempt to turn reporters into stenographers, and Carl Zimmer said that any journalists who agreed to the terms was engaging in a “rancid, corrupt way to report about science.”

The paper was retracted last year, but Seralini et. al. have republished it, and sent the new version to reporters under embargo for today at 11 a.m. Paris time.

This time, they didn’t put the same restrictions on the embargo, but they did do something else unusual: They intentionally omitted the name of the journal from the embargoed materials, saying they’d release that during a press conference just beginning as this post goes live.  Why? Seralini told me by email: Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Ivan Oransky

June 24, 2014 at 5:00 am

Posted in Uncategorized

PNAS lifts embargo early after finding three-month old article by author describing findings

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pnas juneAfter what the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) is calling an “embargo break,” the journal has lifted the embargo early on a paper because the findings were described by the author in a popular science magazine in April.

Here’s the email that went out yesterday a bit before 7 p.m. Eastern, days before the scheduled 3 p.m. Eastern embargo Monday: Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Ivan Oransky

June 13, 2014 at 9:30 am

Posted in Uncategorized

FDA back to its old tricks, trying to turn reporters into stenographers

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fdaThe FDA, it would appear, is back to old tricks that it claimed it had ended in 2011.

This weekend, in a column titled “When Sources Set The Ground Rules,” New York Times public editor Margaret Sullivan highlighted an unusual sentence in a story that had appeared in the paper: Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Ivan Oransky

May 4, 2014 at 12:18 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Speedy news: Embargo on Ivy Leaguers and ADHD drugs study lifted early after New Republic breaks it

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pediatricsWhen I was a student at an Ivy League institution in Cambridge, Mass., the only drugs I used were caffeine and alcohol. Apparently, today’s Ivy Leaguers are using ADHD drugs as study aids.

That news is out early — with some extra speed, you might say — thanks to an embargo break by The New Republic. From an American Academy of Pediatrics note to media sent a little while ago: Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Ivan Oransky

May 1, 2014 at 12:53 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Break an embargo, get fined $70,000

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ferrariWhen it comes to sanctions for science journal embargo breaks, it seems to depend who you are. As a rule of thumb, smaller outlets get punished, while larger ones don’t, although there have certainly been exceptions, and most breaks aren’t punished at all.

But automotive media reporters — some of whom have griped about embargoes before — are buzzing this week about a threat by Ferrari to fine journalists who hit the gas before the starting gun on stories about their new car, LaFerrari. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Ivan Oransky

April 25, 2014 at 9:00 am

Posted in Uncategorized

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