Embargo Watch

Keeping an eye on how scientific information embargoes affect news coverage

American Journal of Kidney Diseases pulls a two-fer: A Groundhog Day embargo of a study that’s freely available

with one comment

I’ve written before about the Groundhog Day embargo, one that lifts every hour for a day, because it’s set at a journalist’s local time. And I’ve written a number of times about the vexing problem of journals and societies that insist on embargoing material that is actually already available.

Well, this week the American Journal of Kidney Diseases did both.

Earlier this week, the journal’s publisher, the National Kidney Foundation, sent out an embargoed notice about a study finding that people with moderate kidney disease have a higher risk of hearing loss. It said it was embargoed until today, but didn’t list a time.

And when our intern poked around the AJKD site, he found that the study had been online since August 5.

Before you ask: No, I really don’t have to go looking for these things. They happen with distressing regularity, and either I notice them or a helpful Embargo Watch tipster does.

You know the excuse you use to start drinking any time of day? “It’s happy hour somewhere.” Well, the AJKD embargo is actually a slight variation on the Groundhog Day embargo, since it lifts whenever a journalist wants it to, as long as it’s Friday where that journalist is sitting.

That’s what I found out when we asked the National Kidney Foundation when exactly the embargo was lifting:

No, you can put something out anytime that day.

That seemed odd enough, given that Friday starts much earlier in parts of the world east of here. But when we learned that the study had been online for almost two months, I had to ask about the rationale:

We embargo based on the date of the publication of the print version of journal.

When I responded saying that others had decided “freely available but embargoed” makes no sense, and had changed their policies accordingly, I didn’t hear back.

We honored this “embargo” at Reuters Health. I have to say I’m not sure why.

Written by Ivan Oransky

October 1, 2010 at 9:30 am

Posted in Uncategorized

One Response

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  1. If this continues, you need to set up a New Zealand office.

    Bob O'H

    October 3, 2010 at 9:26 am


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