Embargo Watch

Keeping an eye on how scientific information embargoes affect news coverage

We can haz change: American Diabetes Association says no more “freely available but embargoed”

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In June, I wrote about the fact that the American Diabetes Association posted the abstracts for their big annual meeting about ten days before the meeting online, without password protection or any other firewall, but said they were embargoed until the meeting began. In other words, they were playing the “publicly available but embargoed” game that is one of the banes of Embargo Watch’s existence.

Well, no more. This year, abstracts won’t be available on their site, or anywhere else, until June 24, at 5 p.m. Eastern, when the embargo lifts. From a Q&A:

Q: What is the ADA’s abstract confidentiality policy?
A: All submitted abstracts are governed by the Scientific Sessions Abstract Embargo Policy. An embargo means that information from any abstract or presentation may not be announced, publicized, or distributed before the embargo date and time. This applies to all formats of abstract publication—including abstracts on CD, the hard copy Diabetes Abstract Book, online via the Association’s websites, and other presentations.

Q: What is the embargo date and time?
A: All meeting abstracts are embargoed from the time of submission until 5:00 PM Eastern Daylight Time, Friday, June 24, 2011. This applies to abstracts selected for Oral Presentation, Poster Presentation, Late Breaking Poster Presentation, and Publish Only status.

Q: Are industry announcements required by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) considered an embargo break?
A: No, industry announcements required by the SEC are not considered an embargo violation. However, no abstract data or results may be revealed or implied.

Q: When will abstracts be available to the general public?
A: Abstracts for the 71st Scientific Sessions will be available online through this website when the abstract embargo lifts at 5:00 PM EDT on Friday, June 24, 2011.

The ADA also spells out the policy here. In fact, nothing will be released ahead of time to reporters either, the ADA’s Colleen Fogarty tells me.

I know that some reporters may grumble about the fact that they now won’t get advanced access. But “freely available but embargoed” is untenable and illogical, and the new policy brings ADA in line with ASCO, which tried every which way to solve this problem and seems to have fixed it as best as possible. Of course, that doesn’t prevent embargo breaks. Nothing is perfect.

So welcome to the unofficial Embargo Watch honor roll, ADA. You join the American Thoracic Society and the European Society of Human Genetics in having changed your “freely available but embargoed” policies for the better since Embargo Watch called attention to them. I’m still waiting for the American Gastroenterological Association  (AGA), the American Astronomical Society, and the American College of Chest Physicians, publishers of CHEST, to see the light.

Incidentally, what prompted me to check in about the ADA’s conference policy was a new policy for advance online studies in their journal Diabetes Care. Other journals — particularly the AGA’s Gastroenterology, and CHEST — insist on calling such studies embargoed, even when they’re available to subscribers. Diabetes Care has never done that, and the ADA has made their policy clear in the new wording:

To make new research readily available to subscribers, Diabetes Care posts articles online ahead of print weeks before the print/online issue becomes available. These articles will be copyedited and typeset but not yet author-approved or finalized and will appear in a future issue of Diabetes Care. If you are interested in commenting on one of these articles, the editors ask that you wait until the final version has appeared in print before submitting your commentary or letter to the editor. If you are interested in reporting on a Diabetes Care online-ahead-of-print article, we ask that you observe three conditions:

  • Please specify in your news release that you are reporting on a pre-print version of a study that is scheduled to be published in the [name of month] issue of Diabetes Care. The table below explains when the final print version is scheduled to be published in Diabetes Care.
  • Also, please state in your news item that the pre-print version is currently available online at http://diabetes.org/diabetescare.
  • Lastly, please notify Dayle Kern (xxx@diabetes.org) if you plan to release a news item on a Diabetes Care article.

The ADA gets points for this too. These terms all seem reasonable to me. I hope these developments are both nails in the coffin of “freely available but embargoed.”

Written by Ivan Oransky

January 31, 2011 at 12:15 pm

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