Embargo Watch

Keeping an eye on how scientific information embargoes affect news coverage

“Whoops.” Science lifts embargo early on dog speech processing study after break by Motherboard

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science 2014At 4:47 p.m. Eastern today, about three days before the embargo on this week’s issue was scheduled to lift, Science/AAAS sent out this email to its media list:

Effectively immediately, Science is lifting the embargo on the study, “Neural mechanisms for lexical processing in dogs,” by A. Andics and colleagues, because of an embargo violation by a registered outlet to which other reporter registrants have made us aware.

The Science Press Package Team and EurekAlert! take such violations extremely seriously and we will be following up swiftly with the responsible media outlet. We apologize for the inconvenience this issue creates for our registrants globally.

The embargo breaker? Motherboard, who had already taken the piece down, replacing it with this, (headlined “Whoops”):

Editor’s note: Earlier today we accidentally broke the embargo on some new research. As such, we have removed the story until Thursday when the embargo lifts. We feel fairly dumb about the whole thing but it’s not fair to everyone who agrees to the embargo system if we or anyone else jumps the gun, accidentally or otherwise. Our apologies.

Editor’s note: Earlier today we accidentally broke the embargo on a new study, “Neural mechanisms for lexical processing in dogs,” led by A. Andics and published in Science. The mistake was due to miscommunication about dates on our publishing calendar, and we’re reviewing how we track embargoes internally.

The embargo system for science publishing allows journalists worldwide to spend concerted effort in covering new research, which is essential for accuracy in science reporting. As such, by breaking this embargo we’ve put major strain on journalists hoping to cover the new study, which in turns means the researchers may have less coverage of their work than they hoped for. This helps no one, and we apologize sincerely for the error.

AAAS chief communications officer Ginger Pinholster tells Embargo Watch:

They did respond promptly to remove the link, citing human error. However, the story had been cached, and a tweet had been pushed out by Motherboard. We received urgent queries from three different media outlets, one of which was the Associated Press. Since the information had been prematurely placed into the public domain, we had to lift the embargo. We regret the inconvenience this episode caused for many journalists.

Motherboard may face sanctions. Pinholster added:

As you know, it is our policy to swiftly revoke embargoed access for journalists who do not abide by our embargo-release times. We will definitely be addressing that step tomorrow.

(Disclosure: Our sister blog, Retraction Watch, has a partnership with the news side of Science, which is walled off from those who work on embargoed manuscripts there.)

Written by Ivan Oransky

August 29, 2016 at 6:18 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

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