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Press ReleaseHow 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 traditional critical 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 at


Saitz R, Schwitzer G. Communicating Science in the Time of a Pandemic. JAMA. Published online July 13, 2020. doi:10.1001/jama.2020.12535

Bauchner H, Fontanarosa PB, Golub RM. Editorial Evaluation and Peer Review During a Pandemic: How Journals Maintain Standards. JAMA. Published online June 26, 2020. doi:10.1001/jama.2020.11764 (n.d.) Our Review Criteria.

Image: Youngson, N. (no date). Press Release.  Retrieved from:

Left image: key hole. Right image: person walking through open door.
Illustration by The Project Twins.

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 (

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. 

If you need writing support, the Himmelfarb Library has tools to help. Make a distance appointment with the Writing Center or utilize RefWorks to manage citations. 

Journal of the American College of CardiologyGeorge Washington University Research Professor Toshimitsu Hamasaki has recently earned a new publication distinction from the Journal of the American College of Cardiology. Dr. Hamasaki is a Research Professor with the Milken Institute School of Public Health’s GWU Biostatistics Center and the Department of Biostatistics and Bioinformatics whose research focuses on biopharmaceutical statistics and clinical trials.  He is the author of over 200 peer-reviewed publications.

Dr. Hamasaki is the co-author of a 2019 paper from the Journal of the American College of Cardiology entitled “Antenatal Therapy for Fetal Supraventricular Tachyarrhythmias: Multicenter Trial.” Hamasaki’s publication has recently been selected as one of the JACC Editor-in Chief’s Top Papers of 2019.  Hamasaki was the lead statistician in the paper which  reported results from the first prospective multicenter trial to evaluate the safety and efficacy of protocol-defined transplacental treatment in fetal with supraventricular tachycardia (SVT) and atrial flutter. For more information, see Publication Co-authored by Toshimitsu Hamasaki Selected as JACC Editor-in-Chief’s Selected the Top 100 Papers in 2019

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