Embargo Watch

Keeping an eye on how scientific information embargoes affect news coverage

Archive for May 2012

Unintended consequences? What the new ASCO embargo policies have wrought

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Brian Reid

Brian Reid is a former reporter for Bloomberg who’s now a director at PR/communications firm WCG. He’s written three guest posts for Embargo Watch: one on how the embargo system could break, another on what moving science reporting upstream could mean for embargoes, and a third on what would happen if medical and science reporting was more like legal reporting. In this post, he takes a look at the effects of changing embargo policies at the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) meeting.

Until 4 years ago, late May was a colorful time in the world of biotech. Shares of companies developing cancer drugs would gyrate wildly in advance of the beginning of the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) Annual Meeting, despite the absence of any public information. The force behind the “ASCO Effect” was Ivan’s favorite bugaboo: the embargoed-but-publicly-available farce. In mid-May, thousands of oncologists would receive copies of all ASCO abstract, which were technically under embargo. Naturally, this information found its way to the financial markets, creating a headache for almost everyone but the traders. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Ivan Oransky

May 21, 2012 at 9:30 am

Posted in Uncategorized

PLoS ONE lifts “gaydar” study embargo early after premature coverage

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PLoS ONE has lifted the embargo early on a study of how accurately people can determine someone else’s sexual orientation, after someone broke the embargo.

The study, “The Roles of Featural and Configural Face Processing in Snap Judgments of Sexual Orientation,” was originally embargoed for 5 p.m. Eastern today. Here’s a press release from the University of Washington, home of lead author Joshua Tabak, a psychology graduate student. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Ivan Oransky

May 16, 2012 at 1:03 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Sugar makes embargoes stupid, and doesn’t do wonders for a press release, either

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Sugar makes rats stupid, and apparently studies about sugar render people unable to handle embargoes properly.

A message today, about a Journal of Physiology study about how sugar affects learning in rats, from UCLA media relations staffer Elaine Schmidt: Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Ivan Oransky

May 15, 2012 at 3:57 pm

Did someone just…Cell Press lifts embargo on farting dinosaurs paper after early coverage

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Cell Press has lifted the embargo early on a Current Biology study of whether dinosaur flatulence — oh, let’s just say it, dino farts — may have led to prehistoric global warming, following coverage over the weekend. The top of a press alert sent out this morning: Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Ivan Oransky

May 7, 2012 at 1:23 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

A truly appalling press release from Cell Press on “life-extending red wine ingredient”

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It’s common — but still important — for scientists to call reporters to the carpet for sloppy and sensationalistic coverage of medical studies. But sometimes it’s just as important to point out when prestigious journals hype the hell out of studies that probably don’t deserve any coverage at all.

Take a press release from Elsevier’s Cell Press about a Cell Metabolism study of the red wine compound resveratrol in mice. The headline is enough to make you want to get drunk: Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Ivan Oransky

May 1, 2012 at 6:43 pm

Posted in Uncategorized