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Concept: Scientific literature


Scientific articles are retracted at increasing rates, with the highest rates among top journals. Here we show that a single retraction triggers citation losses through an author’s prior body of work. Compared to closely-matched control papers, citations fall by an average of 6.9% per year for each prior publication. These chain reactions are sustained on authors' papers (a) published up to a decade earlier and (b) connected within the authors' own citation network by up to 4 degrees of separation from the retracted publication. Importantly, however, citation losses among prior work disappear when authors self-report the error. Our analyses and results span the range of scientific disciplines.

Concepts: Scientific method, Academic publishing, Science, International Phonetic Alphabet, Author, Citation, Scientific literature, Retraction


Using a database of recent articles published in the field of Global Health research, we examine institutional sources of stratification in publishing access outcomes. Traditionally, the focus on inequality in scientific publishing has focused on prestige hierarchies in established print journals. This project examines stratification in contemporary publishing with a particular focus on subscription vs. various Open Access (OA) publishing options. Findings show that authors working at lower-ranked universities are more likely to publish in closed/paywalled outlets, and less likely to choose outlets that involve some sort of Article Processing Charge (APCs; gold or hybrid OA). We also analyze institutional differences and stratification in the APC costs paid in various journals. Authors affiliated with higher-ranked institutions, as well as hospitals and non-profit organizations pay relatively higher APCs for gold and hybrid OA publications. Results suggest that authors affiliated with high-ranked universities and well-funded institutions tend to have more resources to choose pay options with publishing. Our research suggests new professional hierarchies developing in contemporary publishing, where various OA publishing options are becoming increasingly prominent. Just as there is stratification in institutional representationbetweendifferent types of publishing access, there is also inequalitywithinaccess types.

Concepts: Academic publishing, Publishing, Society, Open source, Open access, Scientific literature, Publication, PubMed Central


Supplementary material is a ubiquitous feature of scientific articles, particularly in journals that limit the length of the articles. While the judicious use of supplementary material can improve the readability of scientific articles, its excessive use threatens the scientific review process and by extension the integrity of the scientific literature. In many cases supplementary material today is so extensive that it is reviewed superficially or not at all. Furthermore, citations buried within supplementary files rob other scientists of recognition of their contribution to the scientific record. These issues are exacerbated by the lack of guidance on the use of supplementary information from the journals to authors and reviewers. We propose that the removal of artificial length restrictions plus the use of interactive features made possible by modern electronic media can help to alleviate these problems. Many journals, in fact, have already removed article length limitations (as is the case for BMC Bioinformatics and other BioMed Central journals). We hope that the issues raised in our article will encourage publishers and scientists to work together towards a better use of supplementary information in scientific publishing.

Concepts: Academic publishing, Science, Publishing, Open access, Scientific literature, BioMed Central journals


CONTEXT: Sedation at the end of life, regardless of the nomenclature, is an increasingly debated practice at both clinical and bioethical levels. However, little is known about the characteristics and trends in scientific publications in this field of study. OBJECTIVES: This article presents a bibliometric analysis of the scientific publications on continuous sedation until death. METHODS: Four electronic databases (MEDLINE, PubMed, Embase, and PsycINFO(®)) were searched for the indexed material published between 1945 and 2011. This search resulted in bibliographic data of 273 published outputs that were analyzed using bibliometric techniques. RESULTS: Data revealed a trend of increased scientific publication from the early 1990s. Published outputs, diverse in type (comments/letters, articles, reviews, case reports, editorials), were widely distributed across 94 journals of varying scientific disciplines (medicine, nursing, palliative care, law, ethics). Most journals (72.3%) were classified under Medical and Health Sciences, with the Journal of Pain and Symptom Management identified as the major journal in the field covering 12.1% of the total publications. Empirical research articles, mostly of a quantitative design, originated from 17 countries. Although Japan and The Netherlands were found to be the leaders in research article productivity, it was the U.K. and the U.S. that ranked top in terms of the quantity of published outputs. CONCLUSION: This is the first bibliometric analysis on continuous sedation until death that can be used to inform future studies. Further research is needed to refine controversies on terminology and ethical acceptability of the practice, as well as conditions and modalities of its use.

Concepts: Scientific method, Academic publishing, Science, Research, Empirical, Publishing, Open access, Scientific literature


Science involves publishing results, but many scientists do not master this. We introduced dictation as a method of producing a manuscript draft, participating in writing teams and attending a writing retreat to junior scientists in our department. This study aimed to explore the scientists' experiences with this process.

Concepts: Scientific method, Epistemology, Science, Writing, Latin, Scientist, Scientific literature, Pseudoscience


Scientists often perceive a trade-off between quantity and quality in scientific publishing: finite amounts of time and effort can be spent to produce few high-quality papers or subdivided to produce many papers of lower quality. Despite this perception, previous studies have indicated the opposite relationship, in which productivity (publishing more papers) is associated with increased paper quality (usually measured by citation accumulation). We examine this question in a novel way, comparing members of the National Academy of Sciences with themselves across years, and using a much larger dataset than previously analyzed. We find that a member’s most highly cited paper in a given year has more citations in more productive years than in in less productive years. Their lowest cited paper each year, on the other hand, has fewer citations in more productive years. To disentangle the effect of the underlying distributions of citations and productivities, we repeat the analysis for hypothetical publication records generated by scrambling each author’s citation counts among their publications. Surprisingly, these artificial histories re-create the above trends almost exactly. Put another way, the observed positive relationship between quantity and quality can be interpreted as a consequence of randomly drawing citation counts for each publication: more productive years yield higher-cited papers because they have more chances to draw a large value. This suggests that citation counts, and the rewards that have come to be associated with them, may be more stochastic than previously appreciated.

Concepts: Scientific method, Academic publishing, Science, Publishing, Productivity, Citation, Scientific literature, Publication


ABSTRACT The publication of scientific information that derives from dual use research of concern (DURC) poses major problems for journals because it brings into conflict the benefits of free access to data and the need to prevent misuse of that information by others. Recently, a group of authors and a major scientific journal addressed the issue of publishing information on a newly discovered, highly lethal toxin that can be delivered to large populations and for which there are no available countermeasures. The journal addressed this conflict by permitting the redaction of information that is normally considered essential for publication. This action establishes a precedent for redaction of sensitive data that also provides an example of responsible scientific publishing. However, this precedent leaves many questions unanswered and suggests a need for a discussion by all stakeholders of scientific information so as to derive normative standards for the publication of DURC.

Concepts: Academic publishing, Science, Open access, Journal, Scientific literature, Citation index, Technical communication, Normative


OBJECTIVE: Some studies suggest that open access articles are more often cited than non-open access articles. However, the relationship between open access and citations count in a discipline such as intensive care medicine has not been studied to date. The present article analyzes the effect of open access publishing of scientific articles in intensive care medicine journals in terms of citations count. METHODS: We evaluated a total of 161 articles (76% being non-open access articles) published in Intensive Care Medicine in the year 2008. Citation data were compared between the two groups up until April 30, 2011. Potentially confounding variables for citation counts were adjusted for in a linear multiple regression model. RESULTS: The median number (interquartile range) of citations of non-open access articles was 8 (4-12) versus 9 (6-18) in the case of open access articles (p=0.084). In the highest citation range (>8), the citation count was 13 (10-16) and 18 (13-21) (p=0.008), respectively. The mean follow-up was 37.5±3 months in both groups. In the 30-35 months after publication, the average number (mean±standard deviation) of citations per article per month of non-open access articles was 0.28±0.6 versus 0.38±0.7 in the case of open access articles (p=0.043). Independent factors for citation advantage were the Hirsch index of the first signing author (β=0.207; p=0.015) and open access status (β=3.618; p=0.006). CONCLUSIONS: Open access publishing and the Hirsch index of the first signing author increase the impact of scientific articles. The open access advantage is greater for the more highly cited articles, and appears in the 30-35 months after publication.

Concepts: Scientific method, Regression analysis, Linear regression, Median, Academic publishing, Arithmetic mean, Scientific literature, Citation impact


Academic conferences are among the most prolific scientific activities, yet the current abstract submission and review process has serious limitations. We propose a revised process that would address these limitations, achieve some of the aims of Open Science, and stimulate discussion throughout the entire lifecycle of the scientific work.

Concepts: Mathematics, Science, Research, Academia, Peer review, Scientific journal, Scientific literature, Abstract management


Sci-Hub is a useful web portal for people working in science as it provides access to millions of free scientific articles. Satisfaction and usage should be explored in the Latino student population. The objective of this study was to evaluate the use, knowledge, and perception of the scientific contribution of Sci-Hub in medical students from Latin America.

Concepts: Scientific method, Epistemology, United States, Science, Spanish language, Latin, Scientific literature, Romance languages