So-Called “Special” Issues of Journals: Big Money for Gold OA Publishers

Originally posted on Scholarly Open Access:

journal special issues Vicious cycle

Special issues of journals mean big money for gold (author-pays) OA publishers. It’s a type of affinity marketing. The special issue guest editor typically invites his contacts and colleagues to contribute papers for a special issue on a topic, and they all have to pay author fees to the publisher. 

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Too much medical research may be unnecessary, unethical, unscientific, and wasteful, warns new international research network

Researchers, research funders, regulators, sponsors and publishers of research fail to use earlier research when preparing to start, fund or publish the results of new studies. To embark on research without systematically reviewing evidence of what is already known, particularly when the research involves people or animals, is unethical, unscientific, and wasteful.

To address this problem a group of Norwegian and Danish researchers have initiated an international network, the ‘Evidence-Based Research Network’ (EBRNetwork). The EBRNetwork brings together initial partners from Australia, Canada, Denmark, the Netherlands, Norway, the UK, and USA was established in Bergen, Norway in December 2014. It also has members from low and middle income nations like India, South Africa and Brazil.

At the ‘Bergen meeting’ partners agreed the aim of the EBRNetwork is to reduce waste in research by promoting:

No new studies without prior systematic review of existing evidence

Efficient production, updating and dissemination of systematic reviews

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Logo of the new Evidence Based Research Network

My take : In real terms this signifies a tactical shift of the way medical research is conducted and funded globally and bring in more objectivity into funding decisions . The current system of research funding is flawed and decisions are often not on the scientific need of the research to be conducted but on peer-perceptions. It will also prevent policy makers to be mis-guided by scientist who are prone to hype their own agenda for causes of career progression.

Note : The information provided here is adapted from the press release by network together with some personal opinions.  Dr. Soumyadeep Bhaumik is one of the members of the network.

To tweet or not to tweet…at conferences

Originally posted on The Contemplative Mammoth:

Live-tweeting, whether a department seminar or a conference talk, is one of the most powerful aspects of academic Twitter I’ve witnessed. It’s not an easy skill, but it’s worth cultivating, because it has tremendous value in bringing exciting research to a broad audience. Instead of the twenty to two hundred people in the room, you have the potential to reach thousands, and generate exciting conversations — what I often refer to as the “meeting within the meeting” that only takes place in the ether.

Live-tweeting also helps me focus more — I personally get more out of talks I tweet than ones I don’t. I sometimes refer to it as my superpower, because I have a special knack for distilling a talk into 140-character sound bites, and a high WPM to match. Live-tweeting usually gets me a handful of new followers, too, which is a good indication that folks are finding the…

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Decision: “REJECT”

Originally posted on EC EBM:

Top 20 Reasons why referees and editors Reject medical research manuscripts

  1. Statistics: inappropriate, incomplete, or insufficiently described, etc.
  2. Over interpretation of the results
  3. Inappropriate, suboptimal, insufficiently described methods
  4. Sample too small or biased
  5. Text difficult to follow, to understand
  6. Insufficient or incomplete problem statement
  7. Inaccurate or inconsistent data reported
  8. Inadequate, incomplete, inaccurate, or outdated review of the literature
  9. Insufficient data presented
  10. Defective tables or figures
  11. Scores insufficiently reliable or unknown reliability
  12. Unimportant or irrelevant topic
  13. Intervention (independent variable) insufficiently described or confusing
  14. Subjects insufficiently described
  15. Lack of conceptual or theoretical framework
  16. Under interpretation of results; ignoring results
  17. Potential confounding variables not addressed
  18. Incomplete, insufficient information in abstract
  19. Title not representative of the study
  20. Sampling method inappropriate or insufficiently described

This is why we need a series of training days to be able to prepare a flawless manuscript.

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What to do if you are motivated to do a Cochrane Review but can’t find an empty topic ?

One of the most commonly asked questions among people attending Cochrane training workshops and people new to the Cochrane system is “What research question should I do review on ? ” The common refrains being most of the topics are either taken or might not be of interest to review groups.

Cochrane this week has given out a list of about 200 Cochrane reviews, “either new titles or reviews requiring updates, that best meet the needs of healthcare and health policy decision maker ” . This is spread across all review groups and is available online  here  . (List downloadable as excelsheet  from  link )

Is sitting the new smoking : Workplace interventions for reducing sitting time at work

Physical inactivity at work has increased in recent years throughout the world. With the advancement in technology (computers, mobiles) and increased peer pressure at work people do not leave their desk even for communicating with their colleagues. Sitting at work increases the risk of being overweight, heart disease, stroke and diabetes. The article is a guest post by the lead author of the Cochrane Review Workplace interventions for reducing sitting at work, Nipun Shrestha published last week.

The interventions that can be aimed to decrease sitting at workplaces could be framed as below :
Physical changes in workplace environment
• Changes in the layout of the workplace such as printers or bins situated further away from desks.
• Changes in desks enabling more activity, such as the use of a sit-stand desk, a vertical workstation on a treadmill or a stepping device.
• Changes in chairs enabling more activity, such as inflated balloon chairs or therapy balls.
A policy to change the organisation of work
• Supporting the social environment by the introduction of walking meetings, walking or other exercise groups during work time.
• Breaks (periodic, frequent, or purposive) to sit less, stand up and take an exercise break.
• Sitting diaries.
Information and counselling to encourage workers to sit less
• Signs or prompts at the workplace (e.g. posters) or at the workstation (computer).
• E-health intervention.
• Distribution of leaflets.
• Counselling (face to face, email, or telephone).
When we think of an average office, reducing sitting is a huge challenge. One has to think of changing architecture, spending a lot of money as well as changing the office routine. So it is important to find out that whether these interventions that aim to reduce sitting, such as desks at which you can work while standing up does actually reduce sitting or not.
We tried to find out whether interventions aimed at reducing the time people spend sitting while at work are effective.

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 “Sitting is the new smoking”  – comment from the audience at @ Cochrane OSH workshop on essential intervention in LMIC’s in Hyderabad,India .

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Ask For Evidence

Originally posted on Wellcome Trust Blog:

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New year – new you? Tempted by promises of detox diets, super-foods and high-tech work out plans? Before you pay out for them, take a moment to consider whether the claims are based on solid science, or if they are just seductive marketing claims designed to part you from your pennies. With support from the Wellcome Trust, the charity Sense About Science has launched a new interactive website, that lets you ask individuals and companies directly for evidence behind claims they make. Sense About Science’s Max Goldman explains why we’re encouraging everyone to Ask for Evidence

C0022911 Nutritional information on food packagingFrom all directions we are told what we should and shouldn’t do: advice about diets, ways to stay healthy, fight disease, avoid chemicals, help the environment. Some of this advice is based on rigorous testing and evidence, but lots of it isn’t. How do we sift through the confusion and work out…

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