Embargo Watch

Keeping an eye on how scientific information embargoes affect news coverage

Reporters, take note: Elsevier promotes non-embargoed studies in new email service

with one comment

Elsevier has relaunched a service for journalists highlighting interesting studies reporters may have missed. The new service describes itself this way under a headline, “Bringing the latest peer reviewed science direct to your inbox…”

Elsevier’s Monthly Research Selection is a monthly email developed by the Elsevier Newsroom which spotlights interesting, topical research articles for health and science press as part of Elsevier’s effort to promote authors and research findings through the media. The full text research articles are peer reviewed and have been publicly available for no more than 4-6 weeks (they are usually articles-in-press). They have not been press-released nor covered in the media (that we are aware of) and they are not embargoed. Formerly known as FLASH, the Monthly Research Selection is available to journalists at no charge through free access to Sciverse ScienceDirect, the world’s largest repository of scientific information.

The email goes on to briefly describe nine studies, ranging from using amniotic fluid to prevent surgical adhesions (in rats) to whether “religious people discount the future less.”

I’m noting this on Embargo Watch because, well, it’s not embargoed. That may seem like a small thing, but it’s not, in a world of media relations in which some journals and scientific societies — hell-bent on using embargoes to gin up interest — seem unable to grasp the concept that “freely available but embargoed” is a ridiculous contradiction that insults reporters who’ve agreed to embargoes in good faith.

In fact, as Elsevier was working on the relaunch of this newsletter, company spokesperson Tom Reller — with whom Embargo Watch and Retraction Watch have always had a perfectly professional relationship, even when we don’t see eye to eye — asked me whether I’d agree to an embargo on it when it came out.

Nope, I said. I liked the idea of highlighting papers reporters may have missed, even if they’re not in high-impact journals. After all, I review dozens of high-impact Elsevier journals every week that neither embargo nor press release any of their studies. But I couldn’t agree to an embargo on freely available content.

So I’m happy to see this iteration isn’t embargoed. And I’d encourage reporters who rely on studies to give it a look by contacting newsroom@elsevier.com to sign up. Why not break out of the embargoed study of the week model a bit? This doesn’t do that completely; after all, we still have to contend with the Ingelfinger Rule. But it’s a start.

Written by Ivan Oransky

January 24, 2012 at 9:30 am

Posted in Uncategorized

One Response

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  1. Well-intentioned, and reducing embargo/PR dependence is always a good thing, but I’m not sure this will do that. I’d imagine it simply adding another layer of PR, with content producers eagerly awaiting round of Elsevier-promoted papers. Like you say, you already review dozens of Elsevier journal contents each week; that’s what reporters need to do.

    Brandon Keim

    January 24, 2012 at 9:57 am

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