Embargo Watch

Keeping an eye on how scientific information embargoes affect news coverage

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:

We’ve found that human error could be at fault for the early posting of
http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jpeds.2011.07.042 due to confusion of when the press release would be distributed (September 13) and the embargo date on the press release (September 16).  It would appear that the article was posted on the press release distribution date. We did not realize this in time to lift the embargo.

To be fair, we didn’t contact the journal and Elsevier until late on the afternoon of the 15th; the clear impression is that had the publisher been aware of the mixup earlier, it would have lifted the embargo early.

That’s what they did with a similar case last month involving the American Journal of Preventive Medicine. That, in turn, came on the heels of a study in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology — also published by Elsevier — having been online for two months before the scheduled embargo.

Elsevier, of course, publishes lot of studies every year — something like 300,000. Errors are bound to happen. The question is how publishers handle them when they do. Embargo Watch will continue to follow the ability of publishers to coordinate posting and embargo times.

Written by Ivan Oransky

September 19, 2011 at 11:59 am

Posted in Uncategorized

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