Embargo Watch

Keeping an eye on how scientific information embargoes affect news coverage

PNAS lifts embargo early after finding three-month old article by author describing findings

with one comment

pnas juneAfter what the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) is calling an “embargo break,” the journal has lifted the embargo early on a paper because the findings were described by the author in a popular science magazine in April.

Here’s the email that went out yesterday a bit before 7 p.m. Eastern, days before the scheduled 3 p.m. Eastern embargo Monday:

Due to an embargo break, PNAS is lifting the embargo early on the following paper. All other articles are under the scheduled embargo:

*   Violent crime trials at London’s Old Bailey

Lexical trends in transcripts of London trials between 1760 and 1913 reveal a gradual decline in Western society’s tolerance of violence, according to a study. To examine the evolution of the Western bureaucratic legal system during the 18th and 19th centuries, Simon DeDeo and colleagues examined transcripts of trial proceedings at London’s Central Criminal Court, also known as the Old Bailey, between 1760 and 1913. By classifying words used in trials into synonym sets and dividing court cases by type of crime, the authors found that around the year 1800 a distinction emerged between the words used to characterize violent and non-violent crimes. According to the authors, the growing lexical distinction between crime types reflected an emerging bureaucratic system for managing violence, which led to changes in societal attitudes toward violent acts. Decreasing tolerance of violent acts reinforced bureaucratic control of violence, the authors report, and drove changes in the legal strategies available to victims of crimes. The results suggest that a decrease in violent crime during the 18th and 19th centuries was due to a gradual reinforcement and strengthening of social norms and bureaucratic processes rather than to specific legislation, according to the authors.

Article #14-05984: “The civilizing process in London’s Old Bailey,” by Sara Klingenstein, Tim Hitchcock, and Simon DeDeo.

The journal tells Embargo Watch that they “found out about an article that was written by one of the authors of the PNAS paper in Nautilus.” Here’s that article, “When Theft Was Worse Than Murder,” written by Simon DeDeo and published on April 24.

There have been a few other recent cases of authors breaking their own embargoes, but they both involved op-eds published the day before a study was scheduled to run.

This is PNAS’s sixth embargo break this year.


Written by Ivan Oransky

June 13, 2014 at 9:30 am

Posted in Uncategorized

One Response

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  1. Reblogged this on Smooth Pebbles and commented:
    A particularly effective illustration of how absurd and craven the embargo system and Ingelfinger’s Rule are.

    David Dobbs

    June 13, 2014 at 10:17 am

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