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Communicating the facts: highlights from the Council of Science Editors annual meeting


The Council of Science Editors annual meeting, held in Denver last month saw 450 professionals converge to present, discuss and debate issues such as scientific misconduct, data-sharing and potential strategies to address future changes in the field of scientific publishing. Maria Kowalczuk, biology editor at BioMed Central, attended the conference and describes her highlights in a recent blog.

Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and author Deborah Blum opened the meeting with a keynote address explaining how to successfully engage an audience when communicating science. Kowalczuk commented that correctly conveying scientific information was a common theme throughout the meeting, with one hot-topic that proved to be controversial being the use of preprint servers. While some publishers support their use in favour of getting research into the public domain quickly, others will not consider a submission if it has been previously available as a preprint. A new policy from the International Committee of Medical Journal Editors (ICMJE) presented at the meeting, which mandates the sharing of anonymised individual patient data, has also received mixed feedback to date.

Other sessions included an ‘Ethics Clinic’, which provided participants with solutions to common authorship issues, advocating appropriate communication between all involved parties, as well as a session covering retractions. Kowalczuk suggests that more still needs to be done to increase transparency in this area as retracted studies continue to be cited. She proposes that new technologies such as that being development by CrossMark, which aims to link retractions to the original publications, will help to resolve such issues. Finally, some new approaches to information sharing were showcased at the meeting, such as PubRef and Behind the Ink which have the potential to facilitate data communication. With the development of such initiatives, Kowalczuk acknowledges that science communication has a changing and interesting future ahead.


Summary by Alice Wareham, PhD from Aspire Scientific

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