Helen Eassom
Helen Eassom
Author Marketing, Wiley

Publishing a book can be a huge process  and you want to be sure that you have the right help and support along the way. It takes a lot of people to get a book published - from the initial idea to post-publication, you’ll work with a number of different professionals. We’ve put together this helpful infographic so you know who’s who on the book publishing team.



More information for book authors can be found here.

    Andrew Tein
Andrew Tein
Vice President, Global Government Affairs, Wiley

The APEC Science Prize for Innovation, Research and Education (“ASPIRE”) is an annual award sponsored by Wiley which recognizes young scientists who have demonstrated a commitment to excellence in scientific research and collaboration with scientists in the region. These young scientists nominated by 17 APEC economies this year have impressive backgrounds and conduct research in a wide range of disciplines that contribute to the ASPIRE theme of new material technologies.


Here we take the opportunity to celebrate each nominee’s achievement, and they share their thoughts on the importance of international collaboration in research.


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    Alexandra Shultz
Alexandra Shultz
VP of Public Affairs, American Geophysical Union

Doorknock.jpgThanks to the terrific staff at Wiley, I recently had the opportunity to join other leaders from scientific societies for a day on Capitol Hill – or, as Wiley calls it, a “Doorknock.”  During this event, representatives from half a dozen or so science societies met with two Senate offices and four House of Representative offices (two of which included the member of Congress himself).


As the Vice President of Public Affairs for the American Geophysical Union, I do science policy for a living. That means I have participated in many, many congressional meetings over the years.


Even so, the “Doorknock” was both an interesting and valuable experience for me. For one thing, the congressional staff and Representatives we met seemed pleased that the science societies were making engagement with “the Hill” a priority.  Given that I often hear congressional staff say that scientists just don’t communicate enough to policymakers, that’s not too surprising.  One staffer I know has told me that his office makes a note of each issue raised by constituents in calls and emails, but science is brought up so seldomly that it doesn’t warrant its own category.  I was also pleased to get to know science society professionals I hadn’t met before.  The discussions we had could lead to future collaborations – including an effort to engage more scientists in the policy process!


One of the most interesting parts of the day for me was hearing the differing views of the congressional offices – all Democrats -  on bipartisanship, or the lack thereof.  Some offices expressed confidence that the parties would work together to ensure strong funding for science and oppose the drastic cuts proposed by the White House for the Fiscal Year 2018 budget.  Take Congressman Serrano (D-NY), for example.  As the lead Democrat on the House Commerce, Justice, Science Appropriations Subcommittee – which decides how to fund NOAA, NASA and NSF, among other agencies – he works closely with the Subcommittee’s Chairman, John Culberson (R-TX).  Both men have made robust cases for the value and importance of basic research and space exploration, and they have a congenial relationship.  This positivity was reflected by Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ)’s staff as well – the Senator sits on the Senate Commerce, Science, Transportation Committee, where he has maintained good working ties with a Republican Colleague -Senator Cory Gardner (R-CO).  (Maybe it’s from sharing a first name!)


Other offices were not so sanguine.  Both Rep. Katherine Clark’s (D-MA) staff and Congressman Bill Foster (D-IL) himself decried the fact that at least some federal agencies have been directed not to respond to requests for information from congressional Democrats.  Congressman Foster – currently the only PhD scientist in Congress - noted that he has taken to releasing his letters to the Administration and the press at the same time, so that reporters can ask the relevant questions of agency officials.


What lesson to draw from all of this? To me, what it says is that there are still policy makers who are actively looking to get things done – and those are the people that understand that they must work across “the aisle.”  So, If you are hoping to influence science policy – or educate policymakers about science – go ahead and contact your policy maker regardless of his/her party.  You never know when you might encounter a decision maker who wants to get things done.


Image Credit: Bill Deluise

     Peter Schneid
Peter Schneid
Author Marketing, Wiley

The final, most important, step in industry-sponsored research is getting the manuscript past the eyes of journal editors through to publication. Editors are the most significant people in the publication process; they decide whether a submission is worthy of consideration. Thus, your manuscript needs to really grab their attention!


PhotoAlto Getty Images.jpg

Editors have to ensure that every accepted manuscript is relevant to the journal’s scope and readership, and meets its standards. Rejection rates generally vary from 60% to 70%, but can cross 90%. An editor’s responsibility further increases when handling manuscripts based on industry-sponsored research, where conflicts of interest can be perceived to affect research credibility. The Good Publication Practice (GPP3) guidelines recommend that:

  • Journal requirements, especially ethical guidelines on originality and avoiding duplicate submission, should be followed
  • The design and results of all clinical trials should be reported in a complete, accurate, balanced, transparent, and timely manner
  • The rights, roles, requirements, and responsibilities of all contributors should be confirmed in writing
  • The role of the sponsor in the design, execution, analysis, reporting, and funding (if applicable) of the research should be fully disclosed in all publications and presentations of the findings
  • All authors and contributors should disclose any relationships or potential competing interests relating to the research and its publication or presentation.

“There certainly is pressure to see that such manuscripts are ethically sound,” says Bruce Dancik, Editor-in-Chief Emeritus, NRC Research Press/Canadian Science Publishing, and Professor Emeritus, Dept. of Renewable Resources, University of Alberta


So how can you ensure that your manuscript—one of hundreds the journal receives—grabs the editor’s attention? Here are some expert tips:

  1. Select the right journal
    This is a crucial step for reaching your target readership. First, list out your preferences: Should it be an international journal? Do you need to get published within a specific timeframe? Should it be open access? Most importantly, make sure the journal publishes studies like yours: case studies, observational studies, clinical trials, etc. List at least three journals that meet your requirements. Journals that are considered reputable in the field, read by your target readership, and familiar to your colleagues and seniors are usually good candidates. You could also check your reference list to see where studies like yours have been published.
  2. Send a pre-submission inquiry
    This saves you a lot of time and effort in the publication process. And most editors appreciate this because they would rather deal with a pre-submission inquiry than a misfit manuscript. Your inquiry should be succinct, covering:
      • A summary of your paper
      • Essential information about the study design
      • Why the journal would be interested in the manuscript.

    Begin by stating your reason for writing and indicate that their reply will help you make an informed decision about manuscript submission. The advantage of this move is that while you cannot submit your paper to more than one journal at a time, you can send pre-submission inquiries to multiple journals simultaneously. Depending on the responses, you can decide which journal to approach.
  3. Compile a complete and impressive submission package
    A good submission package considerably improves a manuscript’s chances of publication. It is of course imperative to follow the submission instructions provided. Another important component of this package is the cover letter. Here, state how your manuscript meets the journal’s aims and scope, highlight its novelty and contribution to the field, and confirm that it has not been published elsewhere. Provide a complete, well-formatted manuscript with a strong title and abstract. According to Dancik, editors look for “something novel; of interest to my readers; something clear, concise, and understandable, with clear arguments and logic, well written and revised, with no typographical errors, misspellings, or grammatical errors.” Your submission package must also include authorship statements, conflicts of interest disclosures, institutional review board approval for the study design, and supporting documents like patient informed consent forms.
  4. Follow best practice guidelines
    Most medical and healthcare journals require you to follow industry-accepted reporting guidelines such as those directed by the International Society for Medical Publication Professionals (ISMPP), the International Committee of Medical Journal Editors (ICMJE), the EQUATOR (Enhancing the QUAlity and Transparency Of health Research) Network, Good Publication Practice (GPP), and Medical Publishing Insights and Practices (MPIP). Familiarize yourself with them, and carefully follow the ones your target journal recommends.
  5. Provide clear and complete disclosure statements
    Editors have to ensure that the sponsor has not influenced the study, analysis, or results. “In industry-sponsored research, I’d be looking for full and clear disclosure of the sponsorship relationship, and information that the sponsor did not conduct the research (i.e., the researcher(s) was (were) independent of the sponsor)”, says Dancik.

    Transparency will help editors evaluate the manuscript with ease and make quicker decisions. So fully disclose the following:
      • Sponsorship: Clearly mention who has commissioned and sponsored the research and the extent of their involvement.
      • Conflicts of interest: Stanley G Korenman, Professor of Medicine at University of California, suggests that editors “define conflict of interest as any benefit (whether direct or indirect) transmitted from sponsor to investigator-author”.  Therefore, disclose any conflicts of interest, whether financial or otherwise.
      • Authorship details: Mention the actual authors under whose supervision the manuscript was written, and acknowledge any writing and editing assistance sought. Korenman recommends that the editor should be assured that all authors, including academic investigator-authors participating in industry-sponsored research, have approved the protocols, agree with the data analysis and results, and support the conclusions.
      • Data: You can further impress the editor by disclosing details about data ownership and making the underlying study data available on submission.
  6. Include confirmation that certificates and permits from ethical review boards have been given
    For clinical trial submissions, obtain details about protocol registration. Follow all the guidelines mandated by the journal for clinical trials. Failing to include approval from institutional safety and ethical approval boards, confidentiality agreements, and patient consent forms might lead to rejection.
  7. Perform a plagiarism check
    Plagiarism and self-plagiarism are serious forms of misconduct and can lead to rejection. Always attribute original sources (with a citation and quotation marks if direct quotes are used), even if reusing ideas or text from your own previous work. Most journals perform a plagiarism check at the screening stage, but you can run your manuscript in advance through software like iThenticate, PlagTracker, and Viper and ensure that you’ve paraphrased and cited sources as required for any instances of duplication.
  8. Submit a detailed study design, highlighting that there were no biases
    Besides clarifying the sponsor’s involvement in the study design and stated conclusions, thoroughly describe the methods and results along with supplementary data. To avoid problems at a later stage, Dancik advises that, “Publication professionals should ensure that any manuscripts they handle resulted from research that was ethically conducted and reported on, with full disclosure of any potential conflicts of interest by all authors. Each author should be aware of the responsibilities of authorship”.


So follow these tips for your next submission, and grab the editor’s attention!


This blog post was originally published on the Wiley B2B blog here


Image Credit: PhotoAlto/Getty Images

    Anna Ehler
Anna Ehler
Society Marketing

We sat down with Chris Graf, Wiley’s new Director of Research Integrity and Publishing Ethics, to learn just how much published research needs a second look.



Listen to the previous episode: “Peer Review is Broken” (Or is it?)


You can listen to this episode and others – including strategies to help protect research integrity and how to get the most out of your member surveys – by going to iTunes and subscribing to the Wiley Society Podcast.


References from the episode:

  1. Daniele Fanelli, Meta-assessment of bias in science: http://www.pnas.org/content/114/14/3714.abstract
  2. http://www.pnas.org/content/114/14/3714.abstractHow the Biggest Fabricator in Science Got Caught: http://nautil.us/issue/24/error/how-the-biggest-fabricator-in-science-got-caught
  3. Resis: https://www.resis-srl.com
  4. The EQUATOR Network: http://www.equator-network.org/
  5. Penelope Research: http://www.peneloperesearch.com/
  6. CONSORT Guidelines: http://www.consort-statement.org/
  7. Stat Reviewer: http://www.statreviewer.com/


    Jon G. Hall
Jon G. Hall
Editor in Chief, Expert Systems

A very important date for the calendar – International Women in Engineering Day, is approaching on June 23rd, 2017. It is an opportunity to celebrate and highlight the incredible careers of women within engineering, with the aim of encouraging more gender diversity in the community.


The sub-theme of this day for 2017 is #MenAsAllies, so we saw this as an exciting opportunity to invite Jon Hall, Editor of Expert Systems, to share his thoughts below. 


It’s an honor and a pleasure to be given a platform this International Women in Engineering Day to make the first male contribution to Wiley’s women in engineering conversation. Being white, male and (ahem) middle aged means being the first is a new experience for me. I like new experiences.


And, as I look at Wiley’s Women in Engineering webpages, I see a spectrum of great women engineers. The best thing? None of them look anything like me.


That’s worth celebrating.


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One of my heroes is Margaret Heafield Hamilton who, as Director of the Software Engineering Division of the MIT Instrumentation Laboratory, coined the term ‘software engineering.’ Margaret’s software sent Apollo 11 to – and humans to walk on – the moon. When radar errors struck, her robust software intervened to save the Apollo 11 mission, and the lives of the three Apollo 11 astronauts – Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins.


Software engineering came of age under Margaret Hamilton and her software revolution is still felt today. She has changed the world in ways that were unimaginable before her.


The next generation of engineers are being born into Margaret Hamilton’s world. Because of Margaret – and every other inspirational engineer of any age, ethnicity or gender – amongst them will surely be another 1,000 – another 10,000 – Margaret Hamiltons.


Each engineer starts by dreaming of changing the world. Nurturing those dreams is our first responsibility as engineers.




Read more:


Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons

    Andrew Tein
Andrew Tein
Vice President, Global Government Affairs, Wiley   
Tracy Huang
Tracy Huang
Associate Director, C&M International

On June 12, the U.S. Department of State hosted an event on “Connecting Economies through Science” in Washington DC, inviting the talented young scientists in the field of new material technologies to share their research and how they work across borders with other young scientists and leverage science as a form of public diplomacy.


The event was a part of the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Science Prize for Innovation, Research and Education, also known as the ASPIRE prize.  ASPIRE recognizes young scientists who have demonstrated a commitment to excellence in scientific research and collaboration with scientists from other APEC economies.  Each year there is a theme and each APEC member economy identifies a nominee for the $25,000 prize, which is co-sponsored by Wiley and Elsevier.


One of the scientists at the event was leading nanomedicine scientists from U.C. San Diego, Dr. Liangfang Zhang.  Dr. Zhang was also the U.S. nominee to the ASPIRE prize, where he competed with other young scientists for the final prize.  Alongside Dr. Zhang at the Washington event were also Dr. Zhen Gu of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and N.C. State University as well as Dr. Michael Arnold from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, both new material scientists, the former working in the biomedical field, and the latter focusing on carbon nanotube transistors for cutting edge electronics.



(From Left to Right: L to R): Adam Huftalen (Elsevier, ASPIRE Co-Sponsor), Wendell Albright (State Department, Director of the Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs), Dr. Michael Arnold (US ASPIRE Runner up), Dr. Liangfang Zhang (US ASPIRE Winner), Dr. Zhen Gu (US ASPIRE runner up), Dr. Jonathan Margolis (State Department Deputy Assistant Secretary for Science, Space and Health); Andrew Tein (Wiley, ASPIRE Co-Sponsor)


Before Dr. Zhang spoke at the event, Wiley Exchanges caught up with Dr. Zhang to learn more about his research.  Here is an abridged version of our conversation.


home_liangfang14.jpgQ. What inspired you to enter the field of Nanomaterials and Nanomedicine?

A. It was a natural progression for me to enter the field of nanomaterials and nanomedicine because both my graduate and postdoctoral trainings are in this area.  However, what really triggered me to devote my career to translational medical research were the many queries I received from patients and their family members about our research findings. While they often don’t have professional training in my field, they often read our publications closely to look for potential applications for the diseases that they are facing. These emails and phone calls are a  powerful driving force to me and my team. We really want to create some useful technologies and translate them into practice, and thus benefit the patients. Nanomaterials and nanomedicine is a research area with tremendous potential to overcome the various therapeutic barriers that are otherwise difficult to overcome.


Q. Can you describe your research in lay terms, and how it might help tackle some medical challenges we’re facing?

A. When applying nanomaterials to the human body for medical applications, regardless of which type of nanomaterials we are going to use, a common challenge is that our body’s immune system is going to attack these foreign materials and try to remove them. The key innovation we made is to camouflage the nanomaterials so they appear to belong to the body by wrapping these foreign materials with a thin layer of natural cell membranes. For instance, by cloaking nanoparticles with natural red blood cell (RBC) membranes, they are disguised as mini RBCs and thus they can sneak away from the immune attack. By doing this, we can allow the nanoparticles to circulate in the blood for a long time. These camouflaged nanoparticles can then carry a high dosage of drugs and more effectively deliver them to diseased sites.


Q. What has been your biggest challenge as a researcher? And what accomplishments are you most proud of?

A. As a biomedical researcher, I found the biggest challenge is to search for practical solutions for urgent medical problems. There are many medical problems that we know little about or have a very limited tool set to deal with. Some of them are longstanding problems and life-threatening. It’s not an easy task to find solutions that are effective and practical, but this is my mission as a researcher. The accomplishments that I am most proud of are twofold. First, I am very proud of creating a useful nanotechnology and carrying it all the way from research discovery to clinical translation. Second, I am really delighted to train many outstanding young scientists and researchers who will become the next generation’s driving forces of the field, both in academia and in industry.


Q. What does winning the US ASPIRE competition mean to you?

A. I am delighted to receive this prestigious recognition. It means a lot to me and my research team because our technology has been recognized and is making a broad impact. This recognition certainly further motivates us to work hard on the development and translation of our technology, aiming to make big scientific and socioeconomic impacts.


    Thomas Gaston
Thomas Gaston
   Managing Editor, Wiley

We know that for journal editors, finding a good pool of reliable, diligent peer reviewers can be a real challenge. With the number of academic journal submissions continuing to rise, and demands on researchers’ time increasing, how can you make sure you’re recruiting the best peer reviewers? The five tips outlined below are a great place to start.




    Samantha Green
Samantha Green
Society Marketing, Wiley

_U0A0241.jpgOn Friday June 9, more than one hundred society leaders gathered together at the Newseum in Washington DC for our annual Wiley Society Executive Seminar. We shared a day of listening, asking questions, and exploring ways to improve research communication at a moment in time when anti-science sentiments are ever more pervasive. As Jay Flynn, SVP of Research Publishing at Wiley, stated “science has always been political.” He noted that it is up to publishers and societies to lead the defense of science and communicate the impact research can have on the world.


The day began with a quote from Rosalind Franklin: “Science and everyday life cannot and should not be separated.” With this idea as our starting point, the Wiley Society Executive Seminar pushed beyond “cannot” and “should not” to explore how science and life are already connected and why it is so important that they remain closely tied.


Research communication isn’t just about sharing evidence or reporting the findings of a study, though both of those are critical. More deeply, research communication is about a shared drive to understand the world around us, to know things outside of ourselves, and to bring about positive change,


Throughout the day, speakers touched upon some of the challenges of research communication, how we might bridge the gaps, and where we might find connections.


The need to communicate with a shared language was a key theme throughout the day.



Our morning keynote, Dr. Rush Holt, CEO of the American Academy for the Advancement of Science, kicked us off with a discussion of the weight that certain words carry. “I often avoid use of the words ‘truth’ and ‘fact’ because they are philosophically loaded terms,” he said.

As Sense About Science USA’s Deputy Director, Neda Afsarmanesh, added later, many words carry different meanings in and out of a scientific context. Uncertainty is a prime example. In the scientific community, it is understood that responsible research leaves room for doubt and debate. But, to the public, uncertainty is unfavorable: it implies that our knowledge is limited and that consensus is lacking. The use of jargon and scientific terms carry a different public meaning.


The Seminar was also a call for narrative in research communication, and for shared stories.


In her talk about bringing storytelling into research communication, Laura Helmuth, Health, Science & Environment Editor at The Washington Post, emphasized the power of first person narratives. She shared examples of editorials authored by researchers who were able to personalize their work and share the stories behind the science. Stories make science easier to understand and humanize the process of discovery for a wider audience.


Early on in the day, Dr. Rush Holt argued that we need to improve our ability to tell the story of the evidence. According to Holt, strengthening the public’s appreciation of the scientific process is the number one job of our scientists. Through narrative and a shared language, scientific discoveries can be communicated in a way that enforces the connection between science and everyday life.


Robert Krulwich, co-host of NPR’s Radio Lab, closed the day with an acknowledgment of the limits of language. Words can never get elusive nature right, and there are limitations on how much we can know through description. But, Krulwich added, words make the pursuit of knowledge all the more precious. They help connect us and they help us understand each other.


Throughout the Seminar, the passion for science and for research communication was palpable in the room. As Robert Krulwich described, science is about finding connections across the gulf of understanding: “You look, you see, and you are changed.”


Image credit: Wiley / Andrew Sariti

    Helen Eassom
Helen Eassom
Author Marketing, Wiley

You just wrote an awesome article for a scientific journal. Whether it's your first published piece or your 100th, you deserve kudos. After you do the hard work, you have to take into consideration how a search engine indexes your article. Discover how to choose effective keywords for your article with a few practical tips.Twin Design Shutterstock.jpg


Importance of Indexing

Indexing for search engines is important for two reasons. Effective keywords for your article portray an accurate representation of what you publish. When someone searches for an article on the latest nutritional studies pertaining to apples, they don't want to see an article about the relationship between tectonic activity and volcanoes. That's an extreme example, but if enough keywords about nutrition and apples end up in an article about tectonics and volcanoes, search engines may think the article is about apples.


Indexing also catches the attention of search engines. Best practices for SEO include mentioning the keywords every 100 to 200 words, in subheadings, in your title, at the beginning of the piece, and towards the end of your article. Effective keywords for your article start with the title.


Title Creation

A title catches the attention of readers, but it also serves as a way to introduce the main point of your article. Consider the introductory paragraph of your article and create a title from there. Your title shouldn't be bland, but it can't be misleading or outrageous, either.


Back to the example about apples, consider the differences between "An Apple a Day Keeps Colon Cancer Away" and "Research Indicates Apples May Prevent Colon Cancer." Both titles contain the keywords "apple" and "colon cancer," but the first one sounds more colloquial and better-suited for popular reading. Once you have your title, filter your keywords throughout the piece using the best practices mentioned earlier. Examine how the article looks after you add more keywords or change verbiage around to accommodate your keyword choices.


Word Clusters or Word Clouds

Several online sources create word clusters or word clouds. Word clusters count the words in your article and give you a visual snapshot of the most prominent words in the article. This can point to how you should select a keyword, even before you select a title. All of these work by copy and pasting text into a text box.


Examine a few word cluster analysis tools to see which one works best for you.


  • Jason Davies Word Cloud Generator creates a graphic of your word cloud on the page above a text box. Larger words figure more prominently.
  • Wordle creates a word cloud, and its analysis tools show you which words show up the most.
  • Tag Crowd customizes your word cluster analysis with drop-down menus to limit your parameters.
  • Tagxedo performs a word cloud analysis on a URL or link.


Your published material can add keywords to search engines in other ways aside from using tools to find the most effective keywords for your article.



Academic papers and long articles require an abstract, which is a short summary of your work. Use keywords in your abstract as an extra boost to your SEO practices. Abstracts are usually just a few hundred words, so putting the keywords in two or three times makes sense when you input the keywords naturally.


Natural Language

Your keywords should employ natural language and blend seamlessly into your article. Simply saying "apples colon cancer" doesn't make sense. Search engines recognize that keywords can be a few words apart to remain relevant to a search engine's algorithm. For instance, compare how "Studies show apples prevent colon cancer," and "Patients with a predisposition for colon cancer might eat apples to prevent this disease" both use the keywords properly in terms of indexing for search engines.


Google AdWords

Marketing gurus use Google Adwords to find keywords that get the most traffic from searches. Utilize this free tool to choose effective keywords for your article. Input the keywords into the program and look for their popularity. Google AdWords suggests alternative keywords if you want to add more robust selections to your article through secondary keywords that augment your main choices.


Great keywords capture the attention of search engines while also accurately conveying the content of your article The correct keywords may give your article better circulation among internet searches, which, in turn, could elevate your expertise in your chosen subject.


Image Credit: Twin Design / Shutterstock


    Samantha Green
Samantha Green
Society Marketing, Wiley

Science and health journalists face pressures to publish more and to publish quickly, which can sometimes be at odds with the need to communicate information with the right context. To explore some of the ethical questions pressing on this community, we chatted with Gary Schwitzer, publisher and founder of HealthNewsReview.org


Gary Schwitzer.jpgQ. You and your team are responsible for HealthNewsReview.org. How did this project begin, and why?

A. In 44 years in health care journalism, I’ve seen countless repetitions of the same flaws in health care reporting. I was always looking for a more comprehensive, analytic way of critiquing and pointing to possible improvements.  Around 2004 I learned of a website named MediaDoctor.org that had begun to systematically review Australian news coverage of health care interventions. That project applied 10 standardized criteria that the team felt were vital in health care news. I thought it was a terrific advance and soon got the project leader’s permission to adopt their approach to a new site I launched in the US in 2006.


However, HealthNewsReview.org has always been much more than a media watchdog project. In my mind, it’s a rubber-meets-the-road health care reform initiative. We will never effect truly meaningful health care reform if we don’t improve the public dialogue about health care. So it’s our goal to help people improve their critical thinking about claims made about treatments, tests, products and procedures – to help people learn a few concepts so that they could understand how to evaluate claims about health care research.


Q. Can you talk about some of the challenges faced by health care and science journalists?

A. As we speak,I’m reading about journalism industry cutbacks and staff buyouts even at the New York Times. In many traditional newsrooms, the health/medical/science news beats have taken a beating. Fewer people are expected to do more with less – and to do it in multiple formats.  The expectation is that the digital side of any news operation must be served, is often served first and with more emphasis.


It’s a particular challenge when news managers treat health care and science news like any other beat. Troublesome story formulas often look like this: follow a PR news release, interview an expert quoted in the news release, get a patient interview (often provided by the PR folks promoting the story idea), and get it up on the web ASAP. On health care stories, much more is needed, and that’s why we apply our 10 systematic story review criteria. Here are those criteria, and the percentage of unsatisfactory scores for the 2,400 stories reviewed in the past 11 years.


                                                                Did the story:


ethics of science journalism.jpg

In our minds, even 8% of 2,400 stories is too much.
We also now review PR news releases, but with a slightly revised set of criteria. The grades for the news release are worse – across the board – than those reported above for news stories.


Q. What are the consequences of inaccurate or misreported health and science research?

A. When health care news is reported in an inaccurate, imbalanced or incomplete manner, people will predictably be hurt. The harms may include:

    • Being misled into placing false hope in an unproven approach.
    • Scheduling unnecessary physician visits because of something seen or heard in the news, only to have it debunked – a waste of time for all involved.
    • Spending time and money pursuing ideas that have no relevance in an individual’s life while failing to pursue more evidence-based approaches.


More broadly, confused or frustrated news consumers or health care consumers may lose trust in medicine and science. And journalism’s integrity and trustworthiness may be harmed.


It’s important to emphasize that some individual journalists and some news organizations still apply a great deal of rigor in health/medical/science news reporting – perhaps better than we’ve ever seen. But the valleys in between those occasional peaks of excellence are becoming wider and deeper, perhaps overcoming the good that is done with solid reporting.


Q. What actions can the research community take to support more accurate coverage of evidence and results?

A. When I published our early results in PLoS Medicine in 2008, the journal’s editors published an accompanying editorial in which they stated:


“Schwitzer's alarming report card of the trouble with medical news stories is thus a wake-up call for all of us involved in disseminating health research—researchers, academic institutions, journal editors, reporters, and media organizations—to work collaboratively to improve the standards of health reporting.”


Researchers and their institutions could help ensure that research publications follow criteria similar to our news story review criteria. In a nutshell, they should be true to the science and avoid marketing hype.


Journal editors and peer reviewers should ensure that the limitations of research findings are explained thoroughly. They can insist that manuscripts are not allowed to use so-called mismatched framing, wherein potential benefits are framed in the most positive light and potential harms are minimized. Journal policies on conflict of interest disclosure should be regularly scrutinized and communicated to keep up with a constantly changing COI landscape. Journal editors know that many patients now access manuscripts online or through patient support groups. It is no longer an environment in which journals are forums for private conversations among scientists.


Those who write PR news releases for researchers’ institutions and/or by medical journals should reflect on our news release review criteria and think carefully about the impact of their PR efforts on journalists and on the general public. We are concerned enough about the impact of news releases that we have now begun offering pre-publication assistance to PR professionals who send us drafts.


These are just a few of the steps that could be taken. But this question deserves a much deeper discussion.  Fortunately, more concerned individuals and institutions are starting to tackle some of these problems.


Q. Recently, the role of the news media has been under scrutiny. What do you think the media’s role should be in today’s world, specifically health and science journalism?

A. The old saw still applies – that it is the job of journalism (in this case, health/medical/science journalism) to comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable, and to give voice to the voiceless.


Our 11-year data-rich experience shows that the majority of news stories by major news media that we have reviewed fail to adequately address costs, benefits and harms, the quality of evidence and alternative options.  To the extent that such stories influence health care consumers, it is often a bad influence.  The afflicted, the voiceless, are not helped.


On the other hand, some individual journalists and organizations have met the challenge of going deeper on complex health care issues.  Journalism that employs deep data dives, investigations, analysis, context and background in covering health/medical/science news is a bright spot in the current environment.


As Americans devote a greater percentage of the GDP to health care than any other country on earth-sometimes without a return on that investment-other journalists must take some portion of the responsibility for promoting expensive, unproven ideas for which, once all of the evidence is in, we may well find that the harms outweigh the benefits.


If news organizations can’t or won’t devote the resources required to cover health care news in depth, they’d be better off covering sports or fashion and leaving health care news to others.  As the humorist Henry Wheeler Shaw wrote:


“The trouble with people is not that they don’t know, but that they know so much that ain’t so...I honestly think it is better to know nothing than to know what ain’t so.”


Gary Schwitzer has specialized in health care journalism for 44 years. He has published the HealthNewsReview.org site for 11 years. In 2014, JAMA Internal Medicine published a summary of the project, “A Guide to Reading Health Care News Stories.” In 2017, The BMJ published his editorial, “The pollution of health news: Time to drain the swamp.” Gary worked in television news for 15 years – in Milwaukee, Dallas and CNN. He was founding editor-in-chief of MayoClinic.com. The Kaiser Family Foundation published his 2009 report, “The State of U.S. Health Journalism.”  For the Association of Health Care Journalists, he wrote the organization’s Statement of Principles, and a guide for members on how to report on studies. He taught health journalism and media ethics at the University of Minnesota for 9 years and now has an Adjunct Associate Professor appointment in the UMN School of Public Health. The American Medical Writers Association honored Schwitzer with one of the organization’s highest honors, the McGovern Award for preeminent contributions to medical communication.


Image Credit: Luinenberg Photography


    James Barnett
James Barnett
eResources and Serials Specialist, University of Birmingham

155160428.jpgThe term hybrid library is not a new one in the lexicon of academic librarians. Indeed, it has been synonymous with the identity of the modern academic library for over two decades now – a mid-point in the transition of academic libraries from tangible places in which traditional, print-based materials are acquired and made available, to fully digital spaces acting as gateways to networked resources (Oppenheim and Smithson, 1999). Arguably, current ‘state of the art’ academic libraries remain emblematic of the hybrid library. The new Main Library at the University of Birmingham where I work, for example, opened in September 2016 and offers patrons access to both print and digital resources, with technology-enabled public spaces offered alongside a Research Reserve dedicated to the print body of our research collection (University of Birmingham, 2017).


Clearly, the hybrid library is a concept that endures in the present. But what of academic libraries of the future? Will an academic library become a solely digital space? In a sense, much of how academic libraries develop in the future will depend on how technology itself develops - particularly around the internet and developments in Artificial Intelligence (AI). At present, we clearly distinguish our library spaces between those that are ‘physical’ (i.e. the building, the shelving, the equipment) and those that are ‘digital’ (i.e. the online discovery layer, the Virtual Learning Environment). However, one vision of a future library - dubbed Library 4.0 - has been offered as being indicative of what will emerge at the point where the clear distinction between the ‘physical’ and the ‘digital’ spaces starts to break down (Noh, 2015).  For instance, Noh (2015) uses the example of how a Library 4.0 system would be intelligent enough to work collegially with a library user by analyzing information independently (p. 792).


To an extent, defining the academic library of the future is difficult because what was thought of as the digital endpoint for libraries when the concept of a hybrid library first gained currency has itself become problematic. By the turn of the century, the key mediatory role librarians played in setting up access to electronic content within digital libraries was becoming apparent (Borgman, 2001). However, changes in scholarly communications practices, characterized in particular by the Open Access movement, have unsettled the notion that the library’s chief function is as content-acquirer and mediator, causing some to wonder what the role of the academic library might be in a world where digital information is pervasive and free to access (Anglada, 2014; Dempsey, Malpas & Lavoie, 2014; Lewis, 2013).


The answer to this seems to be that the function of academic libraries will evolve in accordance with such a world. For example, it has been suggested that libraries will cease to be places where content is collected and mediated, but will instead be recognized as a place where institutionally-created content is curated (Dempsey, Malpas & Lavoie, 2014; Lewis, 2013). Elsewhere, it has been argued that traditional perceptions of the library as mere collectors of information objects needs to be vigorously challenged so that libraries are recognized as the place to go in search of support in the process of converting information into new knowledge (Anglada, 2014).


Arguably, though, these are challenges academic libraries are already striving to meet and have been for some time. For example, the curatorial role of librarians is already in evidence given the activities academic libraries undertake when managing institutional research and research data repositories (Cox & Pinfield, 2014; Cox & Corrall, 2013). Elsewhere, the idea that academic libraries are already shifting their identity from being places synonymous with collection building to places synonymous with user and research support is arguably symbolized in the ever-evolving role of the Subject Librarian (Brewerton, 2011; Gaston, 2001).


Thus, a picture of the academic library as an entity whose future identity (and value) can be drawn out of the challenges it is already meeting starts to emerge. Whether that picture changes really depends on how the challenges themselves develop, but one thing is clear, academic libraries can evolve to meet them.


Image Credit: zhang bo/iStockphoto


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