Embargo Watch

Keeping an eye on how scientific information embargoes affect news coverage

Archive for May 2011

Science does the right thing, releasing XMRV-chronic fatigue material early, no sanctions for WSJ

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Over at our sister blog, Retraction Watch, we report today on an Expression of Concern by Science about a 2009 paper purporting to link XMRV, or xenotropic murine leukemia-related virus, to chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS). You can find details of that notice there. But Embargo Watch wanted to take the opportunity to commend Science for doing the right thing by releasing this material — originally scheduled for June 2’s issue — early.

As we note on Retraction Watch, Science told us it was a Wall Street Journal story that ran today that made them release the material early. The story reported that the authors of the 2009 study had refused to retract their work despite a request from Science: Read the rest of this entry »


Written by Ivan Oransky

May 31, 2011 at 11:58 am

Posted in Uncategorized

BBC breaks embargo on distant gamma ray burst story from AAS, but won’t face sanctions

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The BBC broke an embargo yesterday on a description of the most distant gamma ray burst ever detected, which was being presented at the American Astronomical Society (AAS) meeting in Boston. The news was embargoed for 2 p.m. Eastern, but the story went online about 20 minutes before that. I understand that reporters waiting for a press conference scheduled for 2 p.m. in Boston were a bit irritated to see the BBC’s story.

AAS press officer Rick Fienberg tells me he heard about the break from Daniel Fischer, and contacted the BBC’s Jonathan Amos, who wrote it. His email concluded: Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Ivan Oransky

May 26, 2011 at 11:29 am

Posted in Uncategorized

Reporters: EurekAlert wants to hear what you think

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If you’re registered with EurekAlert, the service wants to know how you use the service, and what you’d like to see change.

EurekAlert, because it is ubiquitous when it comes to embargoed material from journals and institutions, makes frequent appearances on Embargo Watch, whether it’s about whom they’ve (temporarily) banned from access, what happens when one of their press releases turns out to be unsubstantiated, or the requirements for access.

The subject of embargoes doesn’t show up on the survey, which can be found here. According to an email yesterday: Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Ivan Oransky

May 26, 2011 at 9:30 am

Posted in Uncategorized

U.S. Census Bureau reinstates embargo, and has it promptly broken

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After 18 months without an embargo policy, the U.S. Census Bureau reinstated theirs on May 3. This was the top of a message that went out to reporters on April 29:

The Census Bureau is reinstating its Embargo Policy, which allows embargo access to select news releases and data products, effective immediately. The first product that will be available for embargo are the 2010 Census Demographic Profiles, which will be posted to the embargo site at 10:00 a.m. EDT Tuesday, May 3 for public release at 12:01 a.m. EDT Thursday, May 5. Wire and distribution services are prohibited from distributing embargoed news releases and data files to subscribers before the public release date and time.

Access to the Census Bureau’s embargo site is limited to members of accredited media who give their chief attention to the gathering and reporting of news. Applicants must be employed or represent news organizations that regularly publish or broadcast a substantial volume of news material for public consumption. Note that the new embargo policy grants access to individuals, not organizations. Individuals are responsible for complying with the embargo policy, and cannot share their  access information with others, even those within their same media outlet. See Accreditation Requirements for more information on embargo qualifications.

The reinstatement did not go entirely smoothly. This went out on May 9: Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Ivan Oransky

May 23, 2011 at 9:30 am

Posted in Uncategorized

EULAR suffers an “embargo break” because their abstracts are freely available online

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A news outlet allegedly broke an embargo last month on an abstract being presented at the European League Against Rheumatism (EULAR) next week. According to a notice on the EULAR site:

The EULAR abstracts have recently been subject to a serious embargo breach by a media outlet.

EULAR treats all breaches with the utmost seriousness and the offending party has been suspended from participation in the upcoming EULAR Congress 2011, London, including withdrawal of access to all related Press Office Services.

All media are reminded to strictly adhere to the EULAR abstracts embargo regulations, whereby no information may be reproduced before 00.01 Central European Time on Wednesday 25 May 2011.

So who broke the embargo and got punished? A representative from Cohn & Wolfe, the PR firm handling media relations for the conference, told Embargo Watch they “made a decision not to broadcast the outlet.”

Based on Google News and Google Realtime searches, however, it appears that it was an April 21st story about Pfizer’s tofacitinib Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Ivan Oransky

May 20, 2011 at 11:35 am

Society vs. Society? American Thoracic Society breaks American Heart Association embargo

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Since Embargo Watch was launched early last year, there has been at least one case of an unintentional embargo break by a scientific society that posted their own material publicly too early. Today, we bring you the case of a scientific society that has broken another society’s embargo.

This went out at about 1:30 Eastern today from the American Heart Association: Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Ivan Oransky

May 18, 2011 at 2:25 pm

Three card monte? American Thoracic Society conference abstracts are fair game except for some — but don’t ask which

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The American Thoracic Society (ATS) has been the subject of several Embargo Watch posts. Generally, my sense is that they’ve moved in the right direction, away from a “freely available but embargoed” policy. But a tipster called me this week to suggest I look into the policy for the ATS meeting now underway in Denver. All of the conference abstracts were available online, said the caller, but ATS was saying some of them were embargoed.

So I investigated — and learned about a policy the likes of which I’ve never seen before.

First, I asked ATS whether the freely available abstracts were in fact embargoed, since I saw nothing on the site to indicate they were. The response: Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Ivan Oransky

May 17, 2011 at 4:13 pm

Posted in Uncategorized