Another unusual embargo policy at a lung journal
In one of my first posts last week, I noted the unusual embargo in place at the The American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine (AJRCCM), published by the American Thoracic Society. Papers published on their website in advance of print issues are embargoed for two weeks, despite being available to HighWire subscribers.
Now I learn that another lung research journal, CHEST, has a similar policy:
Even though they appear online, CHEST Papers In Press are embargoed from media coverage until they appear in a forthcoming print issue of CHEST. When a Paper in Press appears in a print issue of CHEST, the article will adhere to the standard CHEST embargo policy. For questions regarding CHEST embargo policies, please contact the ACCP Public Relations Department…
The basic idea is the same: Papers are available to any HighWire subscriber, but embargoed for press coverage. The differences: The PDFs of the papers themselves don’t mention the embargo, and it’s not clear how long the embargo lasts.
I contacted Jennifer Stawarz, senior manager of public relations for CHEST and its publisher, the American College of Chest Physicians, to find out more. It turns out this policy is a few years old, and that the lag is somewhere around 10 weeks, even longer than it is at AJRCCM.
Here’s Jennifer’s response:
As you recognized in your previous email, CHEST Papers in Press follow the same embargo policy as those articles featured in the print edition. This means that all articles (whether “in press” or other) are embargoed until they are in the print edition of CHEST, at which time the specific embargo date will correspond with the embargo date for the issue it is scheduled to appear (For instance, if the article is scheduled to appear in the August 2010 issue, the embargo date is August 3, 2010).
The CHEST Papers in Press Embargo Policy was implemented in Spring 2007. Our main reason for the Embargo Policy was to ensure the accuracy of the data being presented to the medical community, the media, and to consumers. Papers in Press are typically published within two weeks of being accepted by the journal in order to give the medical community almost immediate access to new research. Although Papers in Press for CHEST are peer-reviewed, the in-press version has not yet been copyedited. After they are posted as “in press”, the articles go through a rigorous editing and proofreading process before the article appears in its final form in the print edition and online issue. Therefore, the final article that is published in the print edition may contain both substantive and nonsubstantive changes from the in-press version.
It is challenging to pinpoint when an accepted paper or Paper in Press will appear in the print edition. CHEST‘s time from acceptance, which precedes online posting of an in-press article by about two weeks, to publication is, on average, 3 months.
We understand that the embargo policy has not been included on the PDF of the Papers in Press. We are in the process of updating the verbiage on the in-press PDF’s. In addition, we regularly review our embargo policies related to the journal and make changes as necessary.
PR pros and others I spoke to about the two-weeks-post-HighWire-availability AJRCCM embargo thought that one was unusual and not particularly justifiable. Commenters on that post agreed, almost unanimously. I appreciate Jennifer’s responsiveness, but I have to say I find this one even more strange.