Embargo Watch

Keeping an eye on how scientific information embargoes affect news coverage

PLoS One aging gene study embargo broken

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Not too many details yet, but the embargo was broken earlier today on a PLoS One paper describing how a nematode gene affects lifespan, immunity, and responses to stress. The UK Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC), which funded the study, sent a note to its press list, dated 7:52 p.m. UK time, today saying that the paper was being released immediately because of the break.

The original press release (here’s the unembargoed release) was issued yesterday, but I can’t find it, so I’m not sure when the embargo was.

Bora Zivkovic, the online discussion expert at PLoS, tells me that the journal’s embargo policy changed today. Previously, a paper dated a particular day were published at 8 p.m. Eastern the night before, which is when the embargo lifted. Starting today, a paper dated a particular day would be published at around 5 p.m. Eastern that day, when the embargo lifts. The embargo has always lifted when a paper became available on the PLoS site, even if the paper was published early for technical reasons.

It’s certainly possible that the organization that broke the embargo did not pay close attention to the change.

I’ll update as I find out more. Here’s the Reuters story on the study, which went live once the broken embargo release went out.

Update, 1:30 p.m. Eastern, April 2, 2010: My former colleague Brendan Maher pointed me to this story, which seems to have been posted at 15:49 India Standard Time on the 1st, or 6:19 a.m. Eastern. Then again, based on the headline — “Drugs To Slow Ageing Coming Soon” — on a story based on basic science research, I’m finding it difficult to trust anything I see on that page.

Update, 3:05 p.m., April 2, 2010: PLoS hasn’t gotten back to me, but I was forwarded this message from them:

The BBSRC issued its own Press Release for this article and a journalist on their list made a mistake and published the story ahead of the embargo being lifted. This journalist has not broken an embargo previously and has since apologized. PLoS ONE then published the article immediately and the BBSRC re-issued the release to inform everyone on their Press List that the embargo had been lifted.

I’m still not sure who broke the embargo, nor whether the BBSRC press release was at all confusing. Will update as I hear more.

Hat tip to Kate Travis for original tip

Written by Ivan Oransky

April 1, 2010 at 9:40 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

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