Embargo Watch

Keeping an eye on how scientific information embargoes affect news coverage

About to post a story on a Nature study? Check that embargo time again

with 4 comments

Credit: Nature

Most weeks of the year, the embargo for the print issue of Nature would be lifting right now — at 1 p.m. Eastern — and many websites and wire services would be full of stories reporting on Nature studies. Today, however, anyone who posts before 2 p.m. Eastern will be breaking an embargo.

That’s because while the U.S. sprang ahead into Daylight Savings Time early Sunday morning, the U.K. doesn’t do so until March 28, 11 days from now. Every year, there’s a two-week window when the usual five-hour time difference between London and New York is actually four hours.

That makes for some confusing embargo times — and creates a headache for Ruth Francis, head of press for Nature Publishing Group. I emailed her to find out how her week was going so far:

You’re right, it’s confusing – and don’t forget Australia doesn’t change until after the UK/Europe and elsewhere in the world they don’t change their clocks, but their embargoes change because Nature journals embargoes remain 6pm London time. For the next couple of weeks we put extra ‘bold red’ text to remind people of changes to and from daylight savings. We do this both on our releases and on the press site.

We’ve not noticed any leaks so far this week but today is the day of embargo lift for Nature. We’ll keep an extra eye on US websites and will contact anyone who posts in error to remind them that the times they are a changing.

Ruth isn’t asking for any sympathy, although she did admit that “It makes my eyes cross if I think too hard about it!” in a later email. Still, I have to say I don’t envy her this week and next. After all, studies have shown that springing forward for Daylight Savings Time may be hazardous to your health.

I’ll likely revisit this issue again in November, when the U.K. falls back an hour on October 31, but the U.S. doesn’t do so until November 7.

UPDATE, 3/17/10, 2 p.m. Eastern: The only apparent inadvertent break was a press release publishing service, which Ruth tells me apologized. The release was set for the right time, however, so it was unlikely an unrelated technical problem.

Hat tip to my former colleague Alison McCook of The Scientist for prompting this post.


Written by Ivan Oransky

March 17, 2010 at 1:00 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

4 Responses

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  1. Does anybody ever really know what time it is?

    John Platt

    March 17, 2010 at 1:14 pm

  2. For sciencebloggers, the mental association is inevitable: Daylight Savings Time always leads to Roosevelts on Toilets 😉

    Bora Zivkovic

    March 18, 2010 at 11:23 pm

  3. Ivan, you may want to note that Australia jumped forward a few weeks ago, we in the UK fall back this weekend and the US a week later. It’s that Autumn month of watching out for embargo time changes.

    Ruth Francis

    October 27, 2010 at 8:37 am

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