How to read a news release: Tips from the editors of JAMA
Two recent opinion pieces in JAMA address the issue of evaluating and communicating scientific information in the constantly changing era of Covid-19. Journal editors need to maintain standards of scientific integrity as they rapidly process high numbers of time-critical articles. Readers are faced with a deluge of additional information in the form of news releases, pre-prints, and blog posts – most disseminated with little review.
How should a reader approach news releases? Unlike peer reviewed articles, news releases are short and designed to grab attention. They often lack the details to conduct a traditionalcritical appraisal. Readers therefore might want to ask the following questions to make a quick assessment of the information reported in a news release:
Does the news release report on a single study?
Are main outcomes, absolute risks and patient population reported?
How does the information reported relate to other studies?
What is the context of the news release? (i.e. from a federal agency or a pharmaceutical company, designed to influence public opinion or report to stockholders)
Are the opinions of any independent experts included?
Have study results been reported elsewhere? (i.e. preprint, journals)
To learn more about critically reading a news release, check out the 10 review criteria for news stories listed atHealthNewsReview.org.
While there are still many unknowns about what the post-pandemic world will look like, there is a general consensus that the effects on scholarly output are likely to be lasting and far reaching.
In a recent article from Nature entitled “Will the pandemic permanently alter scientific publishing?” Ewen Callaway explores the impact of Covid-19 on publication timeframes and methodologies. The article looks at the accelerated use of preprint archives such as bioRxiv and the increasing push towards Open Access publishing models in recent months. For publishers, the looming question continues to be whether they will be able to devise a business model that both supports faster, open publishing while likewise ensuring financial solvency. For researchers new publication models and timeframes engender many new questions about how best to publish their research.
If you have questions about preprint archives or open access models and your research, please reach out to Sara Hoover, Metadata and Scholarly Publishing Librarian at the Himmelfarb Library (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Written by Sara Hoover, Metadata and Scholarly Publishing Librarian.
The journal Academic Medicine is soliciting original submissions from medical students, residents, and fellows related to COVID-19 for their Letters to the Editor feature. Editors are looking for pieces that emphasize courage and connection in light of the global pandemic. More specifically, editors want to hear how COVID-19 might be contributing to health care and healthcare education in a positive manner.
More information related to the call for papers can be found here in a blog post from Academic Medicine. Letters of 400 words or less should come from students, residents, and fellows and should be submitted here by 5pm EST on Monday, June 1st, 2020.
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