Embargo Watch

Keeping an eye on how scientific information embargoes affect news coverage

Archive for October 2012

Take that, Ingelfinger! eLife announces its media policy, sans embargoes and Ingelfinger

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eLife, the new open-access journal funded by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, the Max Planck Society, and the Wellcome Trust, announced its media policy earlier this week. (I was hoping to jump on this Monday, but despite being remarkably unaffected personally by Hurricane Sandy in midtown Manhattan, there were of course other considerations this week involving my family, my Reuters Health staff, and others — many of whom are still coping with the effects of the storm.)

The short version of this post: I love this policy.

From the policy’s preamble: Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Ivan Oransky

October 31, 2012 at 9:25 am

Posted in Uncategorized

Harvard hospital apologizes for promoting “weak” data on aspartame, cancer

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Earlier this week, Brigham & Women’s Hospital sent out a press released titled, “The truth isn’t sweet when it comes to artificial sweeteners.” It’s the kind of release that was likely to grab lots of reporters’ attention.

But today, the hospital did something familiar during political season: They walked back that press release, apologizing for having sent it out.

Apparently, this was skeptical journalism in action. As NBC News’ Robert Bazell writes: Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Ivan Oransky

October 24, 2012 at 4:16 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Quote my report, but don’t quote me: Why don’t some biotech analysts give interviews?

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Today, I’m pleased to offer a guest post by Kathleen Raven@sci2mrow on Twitter — an up-and-coming science writer and recent graduate of the University of Georgia, where she earned a graduate degree in conservation ecology and is scheduled to complete one health and medical journalism in May 2013. A freelancer, Raven just completed an internship at Nature Medicine. While working on a piece for the journal, she had a vexing experience that gave rise to this post.

Kathleen Raven

In July, an Associated Press story—posted on Bloomberg/Businessweek—quoted a research report written by pharmaceutical analyst Jeffrey Holford at Jefferies & Co., who predicted that Eli Lilly’s Alzheimer’s drug would fail in its late-stage trials before the company released the final results. (It did.) So this summer, while I was reporting a quick Nature Medicine story about the Indianapolis-based drug giant’s five recent phase 3 trial failures, I wanted to get Holford’s take.

I called the investment company’s New York office as a member of the media and was promptly given Holford’s phone number. I dialed and Holford picked up: Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Ivan Oransky

October 19, 2012 at 9:30 am

Posted in Uncategorized

Nature and ESO lift exoplanet embargo early following coverage by Croatian news outlet

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Courtesy Nature

Nature and the European Southern Observatory (ESO) lifted the embargo early today on the finding of an “Earth-mass planet orbiting a star similar to our Sun” after coverage nearly 24 hours before the scheduled embargo time.

From an email to reporters from Ruth Francis, head of the Nature press office: Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Ivan Oransky

October 16, 2012 at 8:07 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Finally, some honesty! Journal: “rationale trumps logic” for our “freely available but embargoed” policy

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Last week, I was going through studies in the Journal of Urology — a journal I like to cover for its rigor and because it publishes a lot of papers that question the status quo in urology, despite being owned by the American Urological Association — and I saw something on “Accepted Manuscripts” that I hadn’t seen before:

All articles printed in The Journal of Urology® are embargoed until 3 PM ET the day they are published as corrected proofs online. Studies cannot be publicized as accepted manuscripts or uncorrected proofs.

This notice appeared on studies that were quite clearly posted online. And that meant this was an embargo of freely available material.

So I wrote to the journal’s editor, and the AUA press office: Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Ivan Oransky

October 3, 2012 at 1:30 pm