Embargo Watch

Keeping an eye on how scientific information embargoes affect news coverage

F1000 vs. Ingelfinger, part two: Blood and The Journal of Proteome Research respond

with one comment

Several weeks ago, an Embargo Watch item noted that Faculty of 1000, a site that organizes post-publication peer review, had struck a blow against the Ingelfinger Rule. According to that rule, as I wrote, “journals refuse to publish anything that’s appeared in the mainstream press or in other journals.”

(The post sparked a fair amount of discussion around the Web, and it has even apparently spawned a T-shirt design, “Give the finger to Ingelfinger.” Maybe I’ve found a business model for Embargo Watch.)

In my original post, I noted that I had asked the editors of two journals — Blood and The Journal of Proteome Research — who said they wouldn’t publish papers based on posters uploaded to F1000, but had in fact done so. That seemed like a contradiction, so I wanted to know the rationale for the journals’ policies, and also how they could explain their decisions to publish.

Last week, I heard back from those two journals. Blood sent this response on behalf of editor-in-chief Cynthia Dunbar:

In answer to your inquiry, the American Society of Hematology and Blood have concerns regarding the publication (online or in print) of meeting posters.  We believe that scientific content should be carefully analyzed and vetted by all authors, and peer-reviewed, before it is published.  We believe this protects both authors and readers.

At the American Society of Hematology, we strive for the best possible abstract review prior to our annual meeting, with each abstract read and graded by 4-6 content experts, with oversight of the process by the Program Committee. In the case of meeting presentations, however, whether posters or talks, the data and even conclusions may change between abstract submission and presentation at the meeting and before final publication in an article form. Posters frequently contain added information (figures, tables, etc.) that has not been reviewed. The final publication of the presented research in an article form in a peer-reviewed journal (whether it’s Blood or another journal) constitutes the most definitive and carefully reviewed content.

A related point is that if the content (for instance figures, tables and text) presented in a poster is identical to that later submitted to Blood as a full paper, as editors we believe that the prior online publication of the information detracts from the final version’s priority, novelty, and interest. The Blood policy, as detailed in our Author Guide, says that posting of material in poster format “may” prevent subsequent publication in Blood and we leave the final decision to the Editor. The degree of overlap needs to be assessed on a case-by-case basis. We feel it is important, and in the best interest of our authors, to inform them that Blood, and other journals, may consider posting of a complete dataset and identical analysis and conclusions on a public website a prior publication.

The examples you cite predate ASH or Blood policy on this issue. Thank you for calling our attention to these examples of possible prior posting of material before its publication in Blood; we are considering stronger measures to detect during review such cases of previous publication. Blood will continue to evaluate each situation individually.

If I’m reading that response right, Blood should be removed from F1000’s list of journals that would automatically reject a paper based on a poster that had been published on the site. I’m trying to confirm that, and will update if I hear back.

Bill Hancock, the editor-in-chief of The Journal of Proteome Research, responded to my query by sending a link to the journal’s prior publication guidelines. Each journal published by the American Chemical Society — which publishes his journal — is responsible for drafting the specific policies relevant to those journals, he said. The guidelines read:

The Journal of Proteome Research considers for publication only original work that has not been previously published and is not under consideration for publication elsewhere. When submitting a manuscript, an author should inform the editor of any prior dissemination of the content in print or electronic format. This includes electronic posting of conference presentations, posters, and preprints on institutional repositories and other Web sites. Any content that has been made publicly available, either in print or electronic format, and that contains a significant amount of new information, if made part of a submitted manuscript, may jeopardise the originality of the submission and may preclude consideration for publication.

The guidelines are useful information, but I was hoping, of course, to understand how their policy allowed them to tell F1000 that they were in the Ingelfinger purist category and yet publish a paper whose poster had been deposited on F1000.

I think this story has legs, as we say in journalism, so stay tuned.

Written by Ivan Oransky

April 21, 2011 at 12:30 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

One Response

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  1. For the record, I have now actually created (and purchased) a “Give the Finger to Ingelfinger” tshirt. Should arrive this week….

    Graham Steel (@McDawg)

    August 13, 2012 at 7:45 am

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