Embargo Watch

Keeping an eye on how scientific information embargoes affect news coverage

Things I like: EORTC-NCI-AACR symposium embargo policy, Lancet apology

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There are lots of examples of embargo policies I dislike here on Embargo Watch. But I’ve been finding things to like lately, so much so that a loyal Embargo Watch reader told me my friends are worried about me.

Well, friends, I’ve found two more.

First up, an elegant and simple policy for an upcoming European Organisation for the Treatment of Cancer-National Cancer Institute-American Association for Cancer Research symposium. This went out this morning from Emma Mason, whose name has appeared regularly on Embargo Watch:

The majority of the abstracts to be presented at the EORTC-NCI-AACR Symposium on “Molecular targets and cancer therapeutics” will go up online two weeks before the meeting at 00.01 hrs CET on Friday 29 October. The Symposium takes place in Berlin on 16-19 November.

Journalists are free to report on the online abstracts from the time that they go up online before the Symposium; however, they should bear in mind that all the abstracts had to be submitted by 15 June, and by the time the research will be presented to the Symposium in November some of the data and results may have changed.

Some abstracts, including late breaking abstracts and those that form part of the media programme, are not being published online before the Symposium begins. They will be published in a supplement abstract book available at the Symposium and will be posted online on the day of their presentation to the meeting; they will be embargoed to 00.01 hrs (CET) on those days.

The online abstracts can be found at:

Here’s why I like this policy:

  • It avoids the “freely available but embargoed” nonsense so many societies and journals insist on. (See, I called it “nonsense.” I’m not going soft.)
  • It makes clear that presentations may include new or different data than in the abstracts — in other words, do some fact-checking, journos.

Kudos to Mason and the symposium’s organizers.

Next: An apology from The Lancet for a 28-hour embargo.

Last week, an email went out just before 3 p.m. Eastern on Wednesday, October 20, about this article on genetics and heart disease, whose embargo was lifting at 7:01 p.m. the following day. It included this:

Thanks and sorry for late notice on this one.

The Lancet, after all, was an early entrant in the Embargo Watch short embargo race. (They have since been eclipsed by the New England Journal of Medicine.)

So the apology was refreshing. And looking back, I don’t think I’ve seen any embargoes shorter than 24 hours at The Lancet in several months.

If this were an observational study, I’d conclude that Embargo Watch scrutiny is linked to increased awareness of  embargo times at The Lancet.

But that would be speaking far beyond the data, so I won’t.

Written by Ivan Oransky

October 28, 2010 at 9:30 am

Posted in Uncategorized

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