Embargo Watch

Keeping an eye on how scientific information embargoes affect news coverage

Prime ministers trump embargoes: PNAS takes unusual step with lost Cambodian city paper

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pnasWant to see more papers published without embargoes? Just get heads of state to talk about them.

Yesterday, at about 5:30 p.m. Eastern, the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) sent out this message to its press list:

SPECIAL EMBARGO NOTE: Please note that the following paper accepted by PNAS will be run without a press embargo. The prepublication version of the paper is attached; please note this version is not final and the paper has not yet been scheduled for online publication.

2013-06539: Uncovering archaeological landscapes at Angkor using lidar by Damien H. Evans et al.

Lots of studies are published without ever being embargoed, of course, although PNAS doesn’t typically do that. So it wasn’t clear to me from that note whether media outlets could run with stories immediately — some did — plus I was curious why the journal had made the move. PNAS tells Embargo Watch:

Reporters can write about the study now. It has been accepted for publication by PNAS but not yet scheduled for online publication. We decided to publish the paper without an embargo because of special circumstances tied to this paper. The author informed us that the Prime Minister of Cambodia was expected to announce results from the paper at a UNESCO World Heritage meeting in Cambodia this week.

Prime ministers, it would seem, are not subject to press embargoes.

More seriously, it would be great if PNAS found a way to make the paper available online so that interested readers could get more details — but they regularly embargo papers for 3 p.m. Eastern on Mondays that aren’t posted on their site for days, as many have noted with irritation.

Written by Ivan Oransky

June 18, 2013 at 9:30 am

Posted in Uncategorized

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