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Concept: Academic journal


Plan-do-study-act (PDSA) cycles provide a structure for iterative testing of changes to improve quality of systems. The method is widely accepted in healthcare improvement; however there is little overarching evaluation of how the method is applied. This paper proposes a theoretical framework for assessing the quality of application of PDSA cycles and explores the consistency with which the method has been applied in peer-reviewed literature against this framework.

Concepts: Scientific method, Database, Academic publishing, Science, Peer review, Review, Open access, Academic journal


Abstract The technology to produce genetically engineered (GE) plants is celebrating its 30th anniversary and one of the major achievements has been the development of GE crops. The safety of GE crops is crucial for their adoption and has been the object of intense research work often ignored in the public debate. We have reviewed the scientific literature on GE crop safety during the last 10 years, built a classified and manageable list of scientific papers, and analyzed the distribution and composition of the published literature. We selected original research papers, reviews, relevant opinions and reports addressing all the major issues that emerged in the debate on GE crops, trying to catch the scientific consensus that has matured since GE plants became widely cultivated worldwide. The scientific research conducted so far has not detected any significant hazards directly connected with the use of GE crops; however, the debate is still intense. An improvement in the efficacy of scientific communication could have a significant impact on the future of agricultural GE. Our collection of scientific records is available to researchers, communicators and teachers at all levels to help create an informed, balanced public perception on the important issue of GE use in agriculture.

Concepts: Scientific method, Agriculture, Academic publishing, Science, Research, Peer review, Academic journal, Scientific literature


Recent controversies highlighting substandard peer review in Open Access (OA) and traditional (subscription) journals have increased the need for authors, funders, publishers, and institutions to assure quality of peer-review in academic journals. I propose that transparency of the peer-review process may be seen as an indicator of the quality of peer-review, and develop and validate a tool enabling different stakeholders to assess transparency of the peer-review process.

Concepts: Academic publishing, Academia, Peer review, Review, Scientific journal, Open access, Academic journal, Preprint


In recent years, there has been an ongoing, worldwide debate about the representation of females in companies. Our study aimed to meta-analytically investigate the controversial relationship between female representation on corporate boards and firm financial performance. Following a systematic literature search, data from 20 studies on 3097 companies published in peer-reviewed academic journals were included in the meta-analysis. On average, the boards consisted of eight members and female participation was low (mean 14%) in all studies. Half of the 20 studies were based on data from developing countries and 62% from higher income countries. According to the random-effects model, the overall mean weighted correlation between percentage of females on corporate boards and firm performance was small and non-significant (r = .01, 95% confidence interval: -.04, .07). Similar small effect sizes were observed when comparing studies based on developing vs. developed countries and higher vs. lower income countries. The mean board size was not related to the effect sizes in studies. These results indicate that the mere representation of females on corporate boards is not related to firm financial performance if other factors are not considered. We conclude our study with a discussion of its implications and limitations.

Concepts: Statistics, Gender, Developed country, Arithmetic mean, Effect size, Meta-analysis, Developing country, Academic journal


The purpose of this study was to perform a systematic review and meta-analysis of controlled trials to determine the effect of strength-training programs on the running economy (RE) of high-level middle- and long-distance runners. Four electronic databases were searched in September 2015 (Pubmed, SPORTDiscus, MEDLINE and CINAHL) for original research articles. After analyzing 699 resultant original articles, studies were included if the following criteria were met: (a) participants were competitive middle- and/or long-distance runners; (b) participants had a VO2max > 60mL·kg·min; © studies were controlled trials published in peer-reviewed journals; (d) studies analyzed the effects of strength-training programs with a duration greater than 4 weeks; (e) RE was measured before and after the strength-training intervention. Five studies met the inclusion criteria, resulting in a total sample size of 93 competitive, high-level middle- and long-distance runners. Four out of five of the included studies used low to moderate training intensities (40-70% one-repetition maximum), and all of them used low to moderate training volume (2-4 resistance lower-body exercises plus up to 200 jumps and 5-10 short sprints) 2-3 per week for 8-12 weeks. The meta-analyzed effect of strength training programs on RE in high-level middle- and long- distance runners showed a large, beneficial effect (standardized mean difference [95%Confidence Interval] = -1.42 [-2.23, -0.60]). In conclusion, a strength-training program including low to high intensity resistance exercises and plyometric exercises performed 2-3 times per week for 8-12 weeks is an appropriate strategy to improve RE in highly training middle- and long-distance runners.

Concepts: Effectiveness, Exercise, Pharmaceutical industry, Meta-analysis, Running, Physical fitness, Academic journal, Original research


Researchers have always recognised the importance of disseminating the findings of their work, however, recently the need to proactively plan and drive the impact of those findings on the wider society has become a necessity. Firstly, this is because funders require evidence of return from investment and secondly and crucially because national research assessments are becoming powerful determinants of future funding. In research studies associated with nursing, impact needs to be demonstrated by showing the effect on a range of stakeholders including service users, patients, carers, the nursing workforce and commissioners. Engaging these groups is a well-known challenge influenced by lack of access to academic journals, lack of time to read long complex research papers and lack of opportunities to interact directly with the researchers. This needs to be addressed urgently to enable nursing research to increase the impact that it has on health delivery and the work of clinical practitioners. Social media is potentially a novel way of enabling research teams to both communicate about research as studies progress and to disseminate findings and research funders are increasingly using it to publicise information about research programmes and studies they fund. A search of the healthcare literature reveals that advice and guidance on the use of social media for research studies is not well understood or exploited by the research community. This paper, therefore, explores how using social networking platforms, notably Twitter™ offers potential new ways for communicating research findings, accessing diverse and traditionally hard-to-reach audiences, knowledge exchange at an exponential rate, and enabling new means of capturing and demonstrating research impact. The paper discusses approaches to initiate the setup of social networking platforms in research projects and considers the practical challenges of using Twitter™ in nursing and healthcare research. The discussion is illuminated with examples from our current research. In summary, we suggest that the use of social media micro-blogging platforms is a contemporary, fast, easy and cost effective way to augment existing ways of disseminating research which helps drive impact.

Concepts: Scientific method, Health, Academic publishing, Research, Peer review, Communication, Academic journal, Twitter


Academic journals increasingly request a full disclosure of financial conflict of interest (CoI). The Committee for Publication Ethics provides editors with guidance about the course of action in the case of suspected non-disclosure. No prior study has examined the extent to which journal articles on psychosocial interventions disclose CoI, and how journal editors process requests to examine suspected undisclosed CoI. Four internationally disseminated psychosocial interventions were examined. 136 articles related to an intervention, co-authored by intervention developers and published in health sciences journals were retrieved as requiring a CoI statement. Two editors refused consent to be included in the study. COI disclosures and editor responses were coded for 134 articles. Overall, 92/134 (71%) of all articles were found to have absent, incomplete or partly misleading CoI disclosures. Disclosure rates for the four programs varied significantly between 11% and 73%. Journal editors were contacted about 92 published articles with no CoI disclosure or a disclosure that was considered problematic. In 65/92 (71%) of all cases the editors published an ‘erratum’ or ‘corrigendum’. In 16 of these cases the journal had mishandled a submitted disclosure. The most frequent reason for non-publication of an erratum was that the journal had no disclosure policy at the time of the publication (16 cases). Consumers of research on psychosocial interventions published in peer-reviewed journals cannot currently assume that CoI disclosures are adequate and complete. More efforts are needed to achieve transparency.

Concepts: Academic publishing, Peer review, Scientific journal, Publishing, Academic journal, Newcastle upon Tyne, Editors, Academic journals


There are now many methods available to assess the relative citation performance of peer-reviewed journals. Regardless of their individual faults and advantages, citation-based metrics are used by researchers to maximize the citation potential of their articles, and by employers to rank academic track records. The absolute value of any particular index is arguably meaningless unless compared to other journals, and different metrics result in divergent rankings. To provide a simple yet more objective way to rank journals within and among disciplines, we developed a κ-resampled composite journal rank incorporating five popular citation indices: Impact Factor, Immediacy Index, Source-Normalized Impact Per Paper, SCImago Journal Rank and Google 5-year h-index; this approach provides an index of relative rank uncertainty. We applied the approach to six sample sets of scientific journals from Ecology (n = 100 journals), Medicine (n = 100), Multidisciplinary (n = 50); Ecology + Multidisciplinary (n = 25), Obstetrics & Gynaecology (n = 25) and Marine Biology & Fisheries (n = 25). We then cross-compared the κ-resampled ranking for the Ecology + Multidisciplinary journal set to the results of a survey of 188 publishing ecologists who were asked to rank the same journals, and found a 0.68-0.84 Spearman’s ρ correlation between the two rankings datasets. Our composite index approach therefore approximates relative journal reputation, at least for that discipline. Agglomerative and divisive clustering and multi-dimensional scaling techniques applied to the Ecology + Multidisciplinary journal set identified specific clusters of similarly ranked journals, with only Nature & Science separating out from the others. When comparing a selection of journals within or among disciplines, we recommend collecting multiple citation-based metrics for a sample of relevant and realistic journals to calculate the composite rankings and their relative uncertainty windows.

Concepts: Academic publishing, Non-parametric statistics, Ranking, Impact factor, Scientific journal, Academic journal, Bibliometrics, SCImago Journal Rank


Background. The need for timely, ethical, and high-quality reporting of clinical trial results has seen a rise in demand for publication professionals. These publication experts, who are not ghostwriters, work with leading medical researchers and funders around the world to plan and prepare thousands of publications each year. Despite the involvement of publication professionals in an increasing number of peer-reviewed publications, especially those that affect patient care, there is limited evidence-based guidance in the peer-reviewed literature on their publication practices. Similar to the push for editors and the peer-review community to conduct and publish research on publication ethics and the peer-review process, the International Society for Medical Publication Professionals (ISMPP) has encouraged members to conduct and publish research on publication planning and practices. Our primary objective was to investigate the publication rate of research presented at ISMPP Annual Meetings. Methods. ISMPP Annual Meeting abstract lists (April 2009-April 2014) were searched in November 2014 and data were extracted into a pilot-tested spreadsheet. MEDLINE was searched in December 2014 to determine the publication rate (calculated as the % of presented abstracts published as full papers in peer-reviewed journals). Data were analyzed using the Cochran-Armitage trend test (significance: P < .05) by an independent academic statistician. Results. From 2009 to 2014, there were 220 abstracts submitted, 185 accepted, and 164 presented. There were four corresponding publications (publication rate 2.4%). Over time, ISMPP's abstract acceptance rate (overall: 84.1%) did not change, but the number of abstracts presented increased significantly (P = .02). Most abstracts were presented as posters (81.1%) and most research was observational (72.6%). Most researchers came from the US (78.0%), followed by Europe (17.7%), and the Asia-Pacific region (11.2%). Discussion. Research presented at ISMPP Annual Meetings has rarely been published in peer-reviewed journals. The high rate of nonpublication by publication professionals has now been quantified and is of concern. Publication professionals should do more to contribute to evidence-based publication practices, including, and especially, their own. Unless the barriers to publication are identified and addressed, the practices of publication professionals, which affect thousands of peer-reviewed publications each year, will remain hidden and unproven.

Concepts: Scientific method, Academic publishing, Peer review, Scientific journal, Publishing, Academic journal, Publication, Abstract management


This paper focuses on the collision of three factors: a growing emphasis on sharing research through open access publication, an increasing awareness of big data and its potential uses, and an engaged public interested in the privacy and confidentiality of their personal health information. One conceptual space where this collision is brought into sharp relief is with the open availability of patient medical photographs from peer-reviewed journal articles in the search results of online image databases such as Google Images.

Concepts: Academic publishing, Peer review, Scientific journal, Photography, Open access, Academic journal, Academy Award for Best Actor