9 thoughts on “Press embargoes – a threat from the shadows

  1. Hi Danny – thanks for raising this issue. It is timely for me because a research group from Nanyang Technological University are just completing some analysis of Kudos data. We have some interesting results – I shared some in a talk I gave at UKSG, and have written up a blog post which should be going out imminently in a community blog. I’ve also begun talking to journalists about our findings. Meanwhile the Nanyang team want to publish the results “properly” so they are writing up a journal article. So in addition to the questions you raise in your blog, I’m wondering how things like conference talks and blog posts about the work might be perceived by prospective publishers? Would Cell Press choose not to press release a publication if its data / results had been talked about at a conference? What about if the author had talked about their work in blog postings during the research process? (I’m not overly familiar with publication agreements so perhaps when you submit your manuscript you do actually have to state that you have not publicly talked about your work in these ways?) More questions than answers … as I say, thanks for the opening the issue up!

    1. What a minefield. Makes me want to go into a different profession. 🙁

      Charlie, can you ensure the Nanyang guys hide the metadata under a mattress till it is published, else we’ll never know what their findings were. 😉

      (And congratulations Danny on your perseverance. )

      1. And forgive me if I am overstaying my welcome here, but the more I think the more irony I see here. My comment is not at all aimed at my dear friend Charlie Rapple, or the team who looked into the Kudos data, but the scholarly publishing system in general. Quoting Charlie:

        ‘Meanwhile the Nanyang team want to publish the results “properly” ‘

        So the team have the results and they could tell us right now, but we are forced to wait for however it takes for the journal they choose to publish in until they feel safe they can tell us. (A perfect illustration of this blog post.)

        Something ain’t right…

  2. Great article.

    What do HEFCE say about these two issues? With the funders and HEFCE working together, a solution might be possible no doubt. Increased leverage on he publishers?

    1. Hi James, the next step is to talk about this with them. Until now it has been a problem we have been dealing with on the quiet. We can now start the conversation.

      1. Good plan. It’s clearly not just a Cambridge issue – presumably it affects all institutions in UK (and increasingly elsewhere).

        I’ll watch with interest – I don’t envy you in negotiating this maze! Many thanks for your efforts.

  3. The “Ingelfinger Rule, ” publisher FUD and author paranoia

    The Ingelfinger Rule is dead and buried. No publisher can require a
    researcher to keep their findings secret. They can report them at
    conferences and post their unrefereed preprints whenever they like.

    (Authors can voluntarily comply with a press embargo on an accepted paper
    until publication, but that’s irrelevant to HEFCE, which requires deposit
    within 3 months of acceptance: No *Nature* press embargo is anywhere near
    that long.)

    Harnad, S. (2000) Ingelfinger Over-Ruled: The Role of the Web in the Future
    of Refereed Medical Journal Publishing. Lancet Perspectives 256 (December
    Supplement): s16. http://cogprints.org/1703/

    Closed access deposit of the author’s final, accepted draft is absolutely
    none of the business of the publisher, has nothing to do with copyright,
    and certainly provides not the faintest of grounds for “pulling” a
    publication. Neither does public notice of a scientific conference and its
    papers (and abstracts).

    HEFCE and HEFCE authors: Steer the course. This kind of FUD has been
    floated for decades now and deserves your contempt, not your concern.

    Here are a couple of flashbacks from yesteryear:


    Stevan Harnad

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