Embargo Watch

Keeping an eye on how scientific information embargoes affect news coverage

Archive for September 2011

German paper broke XMRV-chronic fatigue syndrome story embargo, but won’t face sanctions

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Last Thursday, while reporting for Retraction Watch on the partial retraction of a Science paper linking XMRV, or xenotropic murine leukemia-related virus, and chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS), I noticed that a story on the subject had appeared on the website of Der Tagesspiegel, a German daily newspaper, about an hour before the embargo lifted at 2 p.m.  Eastern.

At the time, I asked Science whether they were aware of the apparent break,  and whether the paper would face sanctions. On Friday Science Press Package Director Kathy Wren wrote Embargo Watch: Read the rest of this entry »

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Written by Ivan Oransky

September 26, 2011 at 11:00 am

Posted in Uncategorized

Update from CERN communications director on neutrinos (potentially) traveling faster than light

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On Friday, I published a post on the news that physicists had potentially discovered neutrinos breaking the speed of light. The story had first been reported by Reuters and the BBC, seemingly ahead of an embargo. As I noted then, the details about how that news was released were a bit murky, but the best I could tell, this wasn’t really an embargo, but a gentleman’s agreement that hadn’t been communicated to all the gentlemen.

In response to that post, James Gillies, the head of CERN’s communication group, tweeted:

@ivanoransky Anyone watching closely enough would have seen the story in the public domain long before the BBC and Reuters reported it.

I replied:

@JDGillies Fair enough. So why ask other reporters to wait to publish on it?

Gillies thought that was a bit too complicated a question to answer in 140 characters — I agree — so he responded to the message I had sent the CERN press office last week. Here’s his helpful and thoughtful email, which fills in some details, offers important context, and helps make sense of what happened last week: Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Ivan Oransky

September 26, 2011 at 9:30 am

Posted in Uncategorized

Did Reuters and the BBC break the embargo on the neutrinos-speed of light story?

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Unless you’ve been living under a rock — or then again, this being particle physics, maybe even then — you’ve by now heard about what is being heralded as a finding that may overturn Einstein’s theory of relativity. With the caveat that the results need to be confirmed, a group of physicists working on an experiment known as OPERA, run by CERN and Italy’s Gran Sasso Laboratory, say they have observed neutrinos traveling faster than the speed of light.

And as a number of people have suggested, a story by a colleague of mine at Reuters seemed yesterday to violate far more mundane rules, those of the embargo. (Or, as a few jokesters said, the new findings may have allowed the story to travel back in time.)

But it’s far more complicated than that. Sort of like particle physics.

Some of the details of are a bit murky. And I should say from the outset that whenever you write about something involving your colleagues, it’s tricky. But I’m pretty clear on what happened. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Ivan Oransky

September 23, 2011 at 10:34 am

Posted in Uncategorized

Confusion, human error likely lead to posting of Journal of Pediatrics study before embargo lifts

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For the third time inside of a month, an Elsevier journal was caught unawares by a study having appeared online before a scheduled embargo.

The press release, as originally issued, embargoed the pharmaceutical poisoning in kids study until a minute after midnight Thursday morning, September 16. But when a Reuters Health reporter went to check the DOI so we could include it in our story, she found out that the study had actually been live since September 13.

Elsevier tells Retraction Watch: Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Ivan Oransky

September 19, 2011 at 11:59 am

Posted in Uncategorized

PNAS lifts bird extinction paper embargo because of “highly unusual circumstance”

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The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) has lifted the embargo early on “Mass extinction of birds at the Cretaceous-Paleogene(K-Pg) boundary,” by Nicholas Longrich and colleagues. But it wasn’t because anyone broke the embargo, or at least not because any member of the media broke the embargo, PNAS tells Embargo Watch: Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Ivan Oransky

September 15, 2011 at 5:13 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Science lifts dinosaur feathers study after Asahi Shimbun breaks embargo

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From an email that went out about 10:30 Eastern this morning to Science‘s press list:

The AAAS Office of Public Programs is lifting the embargo, effective immediately, on the article “A Diverse Assemblage of Late Cretaceous Dinosaur and Bird Feathers from Canadian Amber” by R.C. McKellar and colleagues, because this information has become publicly available. The embargo on the related Perspective, “Fossilized Feathers,” by M.A. Norell is lifted as well. Both articles are being published in the 16 September issue of Science and will be available
at sciencemag.org later today.

A summary of the article follows, and a copy of the manuscript is available at http://www.eurekalert.org/jrnls/sci/. The embargo is being lifted so that reporters may freely publish their coverage now. The rest of this week’s SciPak content will remain under embargo until 2 pm US ET today, 15 September.

Science‘s press office tells Embargo Watch: Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Ivan Oransky

September 15, 2011 at 1:28 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Update on posting studies at embargo time, a change at Health Affairs, and an Embargo Watch apology

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I have an update on last week’s post about Health Affairs, HighWire, and why the journal’s September issue went live before its embargo had lifted — only to have the journal ask a reporter to keep to the embargo anyway. There’s a clarification, a change in the Health Affairs embargo time following the incident, and an Embargo Watch apology.

First, Health Affairs asked to clarify an issue in last week’s post, in which I referred to a “glitch” that had led to embargoed material being posted hours before the embargo lifted. Executive Publisher Jane Hiebert-White wrote me by email: Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Ivan Oransky

September 14, 2011 at 1:17 pm

Posted in Uncategorized