The dissemination of science follows the conventional route of rigorous peer-review followed by publication in an accredited scientific journal. This process has been the standard foundation from which the general public can trust that the science is, at the very least, valid and honest. Of course this system is not without its flaws. Scientific papers of questionable authority, [...]... Read more »
Flor Lacanilao. (1997) Continuing problems with gray literature. Environmental Biology of Fishes, 1-5. info:/
Which is the best answer?A. YesB. NoC. MaybeD. 2 of the 3 aboveE. None of the aboveWait, what?! What a terribly written test question! Have you encountered similarly poor questions on exams? It turns out that writing multiple-choice test questions is actually pretty difficult. There are some basic rules to follow and pitfalls to avoid.In an article, the authors (hey, I know most of them! Wait, why wasn't I invited?!) talks about the lack of a National Board Medical Exam in Emergency Medicine. Such "shelf exams" exist in other specialties but in EM. Frankly, it has to do with how expensive it is for medical schools and clerkships to purchase these tests. Within EM, 59% of clerkships are using an end-of-clerkship exam, most of which are designed by the local institution.The authors also provide an excellent review on the art of writing multiple-choice test questions. So what are the basics in writing a good multiple-choice test question?There are 2 parts to each test item:The stem: The question itselfThe answer choices: Keyed response (correct answer) vs Foils/Distractors (wrong answers)The StemThe test question should be clear and answerable without looking at the possible choices.The test question should have only one undisputable answer.Avoid being too wordy. State the question concisely.Avoid "negative" questions (eg. Which of the following is NOT a cause for...)The Answer ChoicesThere are smart test-takers out there. For instance, choices which have the word "always" or "never" are usually foils and thus incorrect answers. Grammatically incorrect choices are usually wrong. When choosing between 2 answers, the really long one is often the right choice, because the test-writer wants clarify and ensure that the answer is correct. Be aware of these when writing the keyed response and foils.When listing the choices, put the responses in logical order (alphabetical or numerical).The authors also discuss the importance of determine test reliability and content validity. Are the students performing poorly because you just suck at writing test questions? Perhaps a better solution than having all the clerkships working in isolated silos is to have a single validated exam.Thus, the authors conclude the need for a standardized, national EM final exam, now that a formal EM curriculum has been created by CDEM this past year.ReferenceSenecal E, Askew K, Gorney B, Beeson M, Manthey D. Anatomy of a Clerkship Test. Acad Emerg Med, 2010, 17: S31-37. DOI: 10.1111/j.1553-2712.2010.00880.x.... Read more »
Academic dishonesty is any type of cheating that occurs in relation to a formal academic exercise. Examples are:
Plagiarism: The adoption or reproduction of original creations of another author (person, collective, organization, community or other type of author, including anonymous authors) without due acknowledgment.
Fabrication: The falsification of data, information, or citations in any formal academic exercise.
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Brunell, A., Staats, S., Barden, J., & Hupp, J. (2010) Narcissism and academic dishonesty: The exhibitionism dimension and the lack of guilt. Personality and Individual Differences. DOI: 10.1016/j.paid.2010.10.006
These days medical journals are rigorous when it comes to getting researchers to declare any associations with industry that might influence how a trial is reported. Before agreeing to publish a paper, many of the top medical journals require authors to sign a comprehensive conflicts of interest form that outlines any financial or personal relationships [...]... Read more »
Lundh, A., Barbateskovic, M., Hróbjartsson, A., & Gøtzsche, P. (2010) Conflicts of Interest at Medical Journals: The Influence of Industry-Supported Randomised Trials on Journal Impact Factors and Revenue – Cohort Study. PLoS Medicine, 7(10). DOI: 10.1371/journal.pmed.1000354
Should a scientific paper be retracted because it is mistaken?
We’re not talking here about misconduct, or deliberate fraud. We’re talking about a result that is, for whatever reason, wrong.
At the Retraction Watch blog, Tom DeCoursey argues that papers that are wrong should be retracted from the scientific record. His main argument is that people waste a lot of time trying to reproduce results that later papers have been unable to confirm.
This may be a rather different view of retraction than has typically existed. My impression is that previously, retraction occurred primarily when there was scientific misconduct: fabricated data, or an editor doing an end run around the peer review process. In the medical literature, retracting could also occur in case of an error that might kill people from mistreatment (“lethal error”; Horton 1995).
I get the impression that papers are getting retraction for a much wider range of reasons than ever before, for reasons that have nothing to do with the quality of the science (e.g., authorship squabbles; embargo violations; pressure from bloggers).
I went looking for whether anyone has conducted research on the reasons for retraction. A quick search turned up work by Snodgrass and Pfeifer (1982). Of the papers they looked at, 94% of the retractions they studied had a reason given, but they don’t break down those reasons into any categories.
Six percent of retractions were not explained at all. I’ve seen papers much more recently with no reason given, so the practice hasn’t stopped.
If we widen the use of retractions, all sort of questions are raised. What level of evidence, of failure to replicate, should be enough to warrant a retraction? One of my own recent papers was an extended attempt to replicate another experiment, without success. But it would be presumptuous of me to demand the original paper be retracted.
In the case of honest mistakes, how should a retracted paper factor into promotion, tenure, or funding decisions? And how should journals seek to notify readers? Remove the paper from the record, which is how retraction was supposed to work? Label it as retracted?
Another take on this from Biochem Belle.
Horton R. 1995. Revising the research record The Lancet 346(8990): 1610-1611. DOI: 10.1016/S0140-6736(95)91935-X
Snodgrass GL, Pfeifer MP. 1982. The characteristics of medical retraction notices Bull Med Libr Assoc 80(4): 328-334.... Read more »
As an editor of a scientific journal, one of my key duties is to organise the peer review of submitted scientific papers. There, I ask other experts to take a look at a paper and let me know their opinion on technical correctness of their findings, and perhaps also what the importance and impact of [...]... Read more »
Emergency physicians are procedural experts in central venous access. The subclavian vein is the best site for such access, because it has been shown to have the lowest rate of iatrogenic infections and deep venous clots.Bedside ultrasonography has really revolutionized how we obtain vascular access over the past 10 years. Identifying the subclavian vein using ultrasonography, however, is still technically challenging. The vein is located just posterior to the clavicle, which often gets in the way of the linear transducer.Trick of the trade:Ultrasound-guided supraclavicular central lineDid you know that there are two approaches to access the subclavian vein -- infraclavicular and supraclavicular? The traditional approach is the infraclavicular approach, however, more studies are showing that the supraclavicular approach is just as safe and as procedurally easy as the infraclavicular approach.The subclavian vein courses posterior to the clavicle but reaches its most superior point just lateral to the clavicular belly of the sternocleidomastoid muscle. In the above photo, the needles are pointing to insertion site for both the supra- and infraclavicular approaches.Use the ultrasound to guide your supraclavicular line placement.Instead of using a flat linear transducer, use the endocavitary transducer, which emits a similar high frequency signal. Its footprint is much smaller and more curved, allowing you to better visualize the subclavian vein. Position the transducer so that you get a long axis view of the vein. Often you can also see IJ vein in view, merging with the subclavian vein.I unfortunately don't have an ultrasound image of this. If you have one, could you send and I'll post it? I'd be happy to credit you. There is a good, copyrighted image in the article by Mallin et al. This survey study showed that 15 residents felt more comfortable with identifying the subclavian vein using this technique after a brief training period.ReferenceMallin M, Louis H, Madsen T. A novel technique for ultrasound-guided supraclavicular subclavian cannulation. Amer J Emerg Med, 2000, 28 (8), 966-9. .... Read more »
Mallin, M., Louis, H., & Madsen, T. (2010) A novel technique for ultrasound-guided supraclavicular subclavian cannulation☆☆☆. The American Journal of Emergency Medicine, 28(8), 966-969. DOI: 10.1016/j.ajem.2009.07.019
According to an oft-cited paper by Marcel LaFollette, a 1926 magazine once introduced an eminent medical researcher as a woman whose mahogany furniture “gleams”. From the same study, but a 1950 magazine, a senior figure in the Atomic Energy Commission was praised for sewing her own clothes. Later, via Dorothy Nelkin, Maria Mayer (Nobel physics [...]... Read more »
Chimba, M., & Kitzinger, J. (2009) Bimbo or boffin? Women in science: An analysis of media representations and how female scientists negotiate cultural contradictions. Public Understanding of Science. DOI: 10.1177/0963662508098580
A small number of cancer disciplines dominate the most prestigious medical journals. Scientists working on other cancer types may be at a professional disadvantage, e.g. for promotion and funding.... Read more »
Glynn, R. W., Chin, J. Z., Kerin, M. J., & Sweeney, K. J. (2010) Representation of Cancer in the Medical Literature - A Bibliometric Analysis. PLoS ONE, 5(11). DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0013902
A couple of years ago, two researchers at the Technion tested whether or not funnier scientific article titles yielded higher citations. Their article, Amusing titles in scientific journals and article citation, takes the titles of over 1000 articles and has them rated on two scales, pleasantness and how amusing they are. They then checked to [...]... Read more »
Sagi, I., & Yechiam, E. (2008) Amusing titles in scientific journals and article citation. Journal of Information Science, 34(5), 680-687. DOI: 10.1177/0165551507086261
'Tis the season. Residency interview season, that is.Faculty are trying to sort out the piles of ERAS applications, trying not to zone-out while reading their 50th personal statement over the past 4 hours. Does it seem that medical students are getting more and more amazing every year?! I'm glad I got in when I did.Student forums are abuzz with residency program and interview etiquette questions.Students are second-guessing themselves about why they haven't heard from their first-choice program.Students are starting think about whether they still fit in their business suit from 4 years ago, when they interviewed to get into medical school.I came upon this article in Academic Medicine, written by Emergency Medicine faculty like my friend Dr. Annie Sadosty (Mayo Clinic). The Dean's Letter, also known as Medical Student Performance Evaluation, is a summary evaluation of the graduating medical student. It is a key document that application-readers look at.The authors conducted a retrospective, multicenter, chart review study at 3 residency programs. Two data abstractors independently looked at the 2007-08 Dean's Letters of all the applicants in the programs. They searched for the term "good" in the summary statement and appendices of each Dean's Letter, to find whether it correlated with the student's ranking.ResultThe adjective "good" was used in 34 of 122 (28%) institutions to classify the students into performance tiers. Of these 34 institutions, 25 (74%) used "good' to describe a student in the bottom quartile of the class (0%-25%). All 34 institutions used "good" to describe students performing in the bottom half of the class.ConclusionThe authors concluded what some of us have learned through personal experience of reading hundreds of files. On the Dean's Letter, GOOD is a code word for BAD usually. This study illustrates the need for a more standardized tool or template for reporting student performance. Variability makes it really difficult for residency program directors to compare students from different medical schools. The authors propose that that all medical schools should adopt a standardized approach to writing the summative portion of the Dean's Letter.TipIn the meantime, if you are writing letters of recommendations for anyone, try to avoid the term "good" for now. You never know if letter readers automatically interpret this as having a negative connotation.ReferenceKiefer CS, Colletti JE, Bellolio MF, Hess EP, Woolridge DP, Thomas KB, Sadosty AT. The "good" dean's letter. Academic Medicine. 2005, 85 (11), 1705-8. PMID: 20881821-... Read more »
The GAVI alliance (used to be called the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunizations) was founded in 2000 in order to help vaccinate children in poor nations. GAVI funds vaccines in any nation with a GNI per capita of less than $1,000. Glatman-Freedman et al. (published November 2010) investigated the factors involved in successful introduction of the Hib (Haemophilus influenza) and HepB (Hepatitis B) vaccines into poor nations. The Hib and HepB vaccines are expensive. The basic battery of vaccines (Polio, Diphtheria, Pertussis, Tetanus, Measles and BCG) costs about $1 per child, but the Hib and HepB vaccines raise the cost to $7-13. Taking the new vaccines cost into account, it is very important to determine the best way to introduce them into poor nations. The authors included in the study GAVI-eligible nations from the WHO African region (AFRO) with population bigger than half a million (35 countries overall).The countries were included in one of three groups:I. Countries where both Hib and HepB were introduced.II. Countries where only HepB was introduced.III. Countries where neither vaccine was introduced. (Table and explanation from the original paper)The authors looked at country-level governance indicators (political stability, government effectiveness, regulatory quality, rule of law, control of corruption and voice and accountability) and (as expected) found that mean scores for all indicators were highest at group I and lowest at group III. Next, the authors tried to create a combined governance scoring, which consisted of the average of all the governance indicators of each country for each year. There was a significant difference.Symbols represent means and error bars represent standard error of the mean. Grey plot background highlights the Pre-GAVI years, white plot background highlights the GAVI funding years. * p value smaller than 0.05, ** p value smaller than 0.01 (figure and explanation from the original paper). Overall, the study indicated that the best way to predict poor African nations ability to introduce new vaccines is to determine their country-level governance. Good governance and political stability help nations attract both foreign aid and investments. Other than funding, the introduction of new vaccines requires trained personnel, cold chain capacity, the ability to reach remote locations, and safe disposal of needles and syringes. Hopefully, this study will be able to help GAVI to introduce new vaccines into poor nations more efficiently. Glatman-Freedman, A., Cohen, M., Nichols, K., Porges, R., Saludes, I., Steffens, K., Rodwin, V., & Britt, D. (2010). Factors Affecting the Introduction of New Vaccines to Poor Nations: A Comparative Study of the Haemophilus influenzae Type B and Hepatitis B Vaccines PLoS ONE, 5 (11) DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0013802... Read more »
Glatman-Freedman, A., Cohen, M., Nichols, K., Porges, R., Saludes, I., Steffens, K., Rodwin, V., & Britt, D. (2010) Factors Affecting the Introduction of New Vaccines to Poor Nations: A Comparative Study of the Haemophilus influenzae Type B and Hepatitis B Vaccines. PLoS ONE, 5(11). DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0013802
Dr. Barbara Ranscht is a neuroscientist. While studying brain development and cancer for more than 20 years, she has come to know a molecule called T-cadherin. This protein is anchored to the cell membrane, where it senses changes in the extracellular environment to ultimately regulate cellular motility and growth. T-cadherin has multiple functions in the [...]... Read more »
Denzel, M., Scimia, M., Zumstein, P., Walsh, K., Ruiz-Lozano, P., & Ranscht, B. (2010) T-cadherin is critical for adiponectin-mediated cardioprotection in mice. Journal of Clinical Investigation. DOI: 10.1172/JCI43464
“Tracking the Footprints Puzzle: The problematic persistence of science-as-process in teaching the nature and culture of science” by Charles R. Ault, Jr. and Jeff Dodick, which was published this month in the journal Science Education, is the research basis for this post. The article was especially interesting for me since I have used the Footprint [...]
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Ault, C., & Dodick, J. (2010) Tracking the Footprints Puzzle: The problematic persistence of science-as-process in teaching the nature and culture of science. Science Education, 94(6), 1092-1122. DOI: 10.1002/sce.20398
There are at least two ways of looking at the history of Science: If we have seen farther it is by standing on the shoulders of giants. If we have seen farther it is by standing on the shoulders of tyrants. Take Isaac Newton for example, a giant whose shoulders we all stand on today. [...]... Read more »
Isaac Newton. (1671) A Letter of Mr. Isaac Newton, Professor of the Mathematicks in the University of Cambridge; Containing His New Theory about Light and Colors: Sent by the Author to the Publisher from Cambridge, Febr. 6. 1671/72; In Order to be Communicated to the R. Socie. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London, 6(69-80), 3075-3087. DOI: 10.1098/rstl.1671.0072
Residency interview season is quickly approaching! Unique to the field of EM, letters of recommendations from EM faculty are written on a standardized form. The Standardized Letter of Recommendation (SLOR), downloadable from the CORD website, documents information about the student's performance in the EM clerkship, qualifications, and global assessment. At the end, the letter writer can provide free-text written comments.In the Global Assessment section, one question is:How highly would you estimate the candidate will reside on your match list?The tiered choices include:"Very Competitive": If you anticipate the student being in the 2X position of your program's Rank Order List, where X is the number of PGY-1 positions available in your program "Competitive": If you anticipate the student being 2X-4X "Possible match": If you anticipate the student being 4X-6X "Unlikely to match": If you anticipate the student being greater than 6XAt a previous CORD Academic Assembly, I was lamenting with a few other EM faculty about how inconsistently letter writers follow these guidelines. Overall, we felt that faculty inflated the student's Global Assessment Score (GAS) tier.So we set out to figure how whether GAS tiers were truly correlated with the Rank Order List. Our results were just published in the CORD/CDEM educational supplement of the Academic Emergency Medicine journal.MethodologyOur study was a multicenter retrospective study of 5 residency programs during the 2008-09 residency application cycle. For each SLOR written by the program's faculty, the GAS tier was recorded and compared to that student's actual Rank Order List position.ResultsOf the 102 SLORs, only 26% (n=27) of the SLORs documented a GAS tier that accurately predicted the student's actual position on the Rank Order List. The student's position was overestimated in 66% (n=67) of the SLORs and, interestingly, underestimated in 8% (n=8) of the SLORs.Why the inaccuracies?Our author group felt that there were 3 primary reasons for these inaccuracies between the GAS tier and Rank Order ListIt's not obvious on the SLOR form that Global Assessment Scores are supposed to be based on the student's anticipated Rank Order List position. Novice letter writers may not know of the grading scheme. It's only described on the CORD website.Determination of a student's position on the Rank Order List is a multifactorial process. Factors include the EM clerkship grades, USMLE scores, other letters of recommendations, preclinical and clinical grades, and extracurricular activities. One of the most important factors is the Dean's Letter (Medical Student Performance Evaluation). Most letter writers don't have access to this document when writing the SLOR. The Dean's Letter would have comments about disciplinary actions, failed exams, and other "red flag" instances.Faculty want to advocate for their student in the residency match process. They may feel pressured to inflate the GAS tier. For instance, while the student may be in the 6X+ range on the Rank Order List, some faculty may feel that labeling them in the lowest category of "Unlikely to Match" would unfairly penalize the application of a solid applicant.What now?Personally, I think that the Global Assessment Score of the SLOR document is unnecessary. Because of its inaccuracies, it's hard for the letter reader to put much weight in it.Additionally, there's already another assessment tool in the SLOR which essentially gives the letter reader a sense of the student's overall competitiveness (see below). It's especially helpful because you can determine whether the letter writer is a "grade-inflater", because the letter writer has to break down how many letters s/he has written last year within the categories of Outstanding, Excellent, Very Good, and Good. Grade-inflaters, for instance, may have a track record where all of their students fall into the Outstanding category.ReferencesOyama L, Kwon M, Fernandez J, Fernández-Frackelton M, Campagne D, Castillo E, Lin M. Inaccuracy of the Global Assessment Score in the Emergency Medicine Standard Letter of Recommendation Acad Emerg Med, 2010; 17:S38-S41. DOI: 10.1111/j.1553-2712.2010.00882.x-... Read more »
Oyama, L., Kwon, M., Fernandez, J., Fernández-Frackelton, M., Campagne, D., Castillo, E., & Lin, M. (2010) Inaccuracy of the Global Assessment Score in the Emergency Medicine Standard Letter of Recommendation. Academic Emergency Medicine. DOI: 10.1111/j.1553-2712.2010.00882.x
(Note: this is a follow up to my previous post).In July 2005, JAMA began to require industry-supported studies to undergo independent statistical analysis. To see if this requirement affected the number of industry sponsored studies publicized in JAMA, Wager et al. (October 2010) looked for all randomized controlled trials (RCTs) published in JAMA from 1 July 2002 to 30 June 2008. They classified the trials according to their funding sources: Industry funded (IF), joint industry plus nonindustry funding (J), industry supported (IS) (the pharma companies provide the materials but don't design or execute the studies), non-commercial (N) and funding not stated (NS). The broad 'industry' category included the IF, J and IS studies. The Lancet and NEJM were used as control (these journals don't have the same requirement).Both the total number of RCTs and the proportion of industry RCTs decreased in JAMA after July 2005. In the mean time, the proportion of industry RCTs in NEJM and The Lancet rose significally. The number of industry-supported and jointly funded studies in JAMA went down about as much as the number of solely industry-funded studies. In light of these fundings, the authors wonder (and rightly so) whether the pharma industry 'boycott' JAMA in response to its policy and what, exactly, it means about the RCTs published in The Lancet and NEJM? Wager, E., Mhaskar, R., & Warburton, S. (2010). JAMA Published Fewer Industry-Funded Studies after Introducing a Requirement for Independent Statistical Analysis PLoS ONE, 5 (10) : 10.1371/journal.pone.0013591... Read more »
Wager, E., Mhaskar, R., & Warburton, S. (2010) JAMA Published Fewer Industry-Funded Studies after Introducing a Requirement for Independent Statistical Analysis. PLoS ONE, 5(10). info:/10.1371/journal.pone.0013591
How does rebel access to natural resources affect conflict? "How". Not "if". That is the question investigated by Päivi Lujala of the Norwegian University of Science and Technology, recently published in the Journal of Peace Research.
Or rather: Where previous research has either suggested a link or sought to explain it by an indirect effect through resource abundance tending to corrupt weak ... Read more »
Lujala, P. (2010) The spoils of nature: Armed civil conflict and rebel access to natural resources. Journal of Peace Research, 47(1), 15-28. DOI: 10.1177/0022343309350015
These days it's common practice for authors, peer-reviewers and even editors of medical journals to declare conflicts of interest, if those exist. However, the medical journal normally don't issue them same declarations. Journals publish regularly industry-supported papers reporting large clinical trials. Reprints of those trials are regularly bought by pharmaceutics companies and distributed to clinicians. The result is an increase of the journals' income as well as an increase in their prestige, since papers read by a large number of clinicians are likely to increase those papers' citation rates and the journals' impact factor.In order to study conflicts of interest in journals, Lundh et al. (October 2010) chose six high-impact medical journals: Annals of Internal Medicine (Annals), Archives of Internal Medicine (Archives), BMJ, JAMA, The Lancet and NEJM and studied the proportions of industry-supported randomized clinical trials (RCTs). The authors focused on citations from 1996-1997 for 1995 papers and 2007 citations for 2005-2006 RCTs. They categorized funding as industry support, mixed support, nonindustry support and no statement about support. Then came the tricky part: getting financial data from the journals about their income from advertisements, reprints and industry-supported supplements as percentage of the journals' total income as well as the total number of reprints sold. BMJ and Lancet (British) provided the data, but the other four journals (American) refused to do so. Given that lack of cooperation, the authors had to become creative. The journals' owners are the American College of Physicians (ACP) for Annals, the American Medical Association (AMA) for JAMA and Archives, and the Massachusetts Medical Society (MMS) for NEJM. The authors obtained their publicly available tax forms, that included data on the total income from all types of publishing. The societies, however, publish each more than one journal, so the authors couldn't determine incomes for individual journals. They had to calculate the relative income from industry sources, to which they received confirmation from ACP, but not from AMA and MMS. In 2005-2006, 32% of the RCTs published in NEJM had industry support. However, for BMJ, only 7% of the RCTs were industry-supported. Declines in proportion of industry-supported trials were statistically significant for Annals and Archives. Citations and industry supportFor 1996-1997 trials, there was a significant correlation between citations and industry support for Lancet and NEJM. The correlation was statistically significant for all journals in 2005-2006. The authors write that "Industry-supported trials published in Annals, Archives and Lancet in 2005-2006 were cited more than twice as often as nonindustry trials and one and a half times more in BMJ, JAMA and NEJM". Impact FactorThe authors calculated the IF of each one of the journals without the industry-supported trials. The NEJM had the largest decrease in IF, followed by the Lancet. The BMJ's IF barely changed. Implications for mass media reportingNEJM is the most prestigious medical journal in the world. Moriarty et al. (2010) found that it was the most cited source in news stories about cancer research (see my last post). If a third of the clinical trials published in NEJM are published by the industry, which means they are more likely to have positive results for the funding company (Lexchin et al., 2003), and taking into account that the NEJM is a very popular source of health news, that means the industry doesn't just gain influence with clinicians by publishing in NEJM, but with the general public as well. Lexchin, J. (2003). Pharmaceutical industry sponsorship and research outcome and quality: systematic review BMJ, 326 (7400), 1167-1170 DOI: 10.1136/bmj.326.7400.1167Moriarty CM, Jensen JD, & Stryker JE (2010). Frequently cited sources in cancer news coverage: a content analysis examining the relationship between cancer news content and source citation. Cancer causes & control : CCC, 21 (1), 41-9 PMID: 19784789Lundh, A., Barbateskovic, M., Hróbjartsson, A., & Gøtzsche, P. (2010). Conflicts of Interest at Medical Journals: The Influence of Industry-Supported Randomised Trials on Journal Impact Factors and Revenue – Cohort Study ... Read more »
Lexchin, J. (2003) Pharmaceutical industry sponsorship and research outcome and quality: systematic review. BMJ, 326(7400), 1167-1170. DOI: 10.1136/bmj.326.7400.1167
Moriarty CM, Jensen JD, & Stryker JE. (2010) Frequently cited sources in cancer news coverage: a content analysis examining the relationship between cancer news content and source citation. Cancer causes , 21(1), 41-9. PMID: 19784789
Lundh, A., Barbateskovic, M., Hróbjartsson, A., & Gøtzsche, P. (2010) Conflicts of Interest at Medical Journals: The Influence of Industry-Supported Randomised Trials on Journal Impact Factors and Revenue – Cohort Study. PLoS Medicine, 7(10). DOI: 10.1371/journal.pmed.1000354
In Connie Willis' book, Bellwether, two researchers acquired a herd of sheep (they were studying fads). However, no sheep agreed to start a new fashion of pressing a button for food. What they needed was a bellwether, a fads-starting sheep. Cha et al. searched for bellwethers ('influentials') on Twitter. They sampled more than six million active users ('active' means 'more than ten tweets'). They used three measures of influence: followers (indegrees), retweets and mentions. The number of followers indicated the size of the user's audience, retweets indicated the value of a tweet's content, and mentions indicated the user's ability to engage in conversation with other users. The most followed users were news sources, politicians (Obama) and celebrities in general. However, the most retweeted users were the Mashable blog, Twittertips and TweetMeme, as well as businessmen (Guy Kawasaki) and news sites (they include The Onion under this category, which amused me greatly). Retweets are influential due to their ability to pass and reinforce a message to users way beyond the followers of the tweet's creator. The authors consider retweets citations of users' content. Mentions - celebrities were often at the top of the 'most-mentioned' list. Since less than 30% of the 'mention' tweets contained URLs, the authors concluded that mentions are more about a person than about content. The number of tweets and number of people a user follows (outdegrees) weren't significant influence indicators, simply because those were spammers. Even ordinary users can rise to fame (mostly of the 15-minutes kind) if they have interesting content. Users like iranbaan, oxfordgirl and TM_Outbreak became immensely popular during the Iranian elections. Unlike those users, the Swine flu bellwethers, in the absence of catastrophic flu outbreaks, remained relatively stable in influence and popularity. In conclusionThe number of followers doesn't necessarily make one a bellwether.Retweets are mostly content-drivenMentions are mostly user-drivenNews sites do better at retweets, while celebrities get more mentions.Influence on Twitter takes supplying plenty of content. Cha, M., Haddadi, H., Benevenuto, F., & Gummadi, K. P. (2010). Measuring User Influence in Twitter: The Million Follower Fallacy ICWSM '10: Proceedings of international AAAI Conference on Weblogs and Social Media. ... Read more »
Cha, M., Haddadi, H., Benevenuto, F., & Gummadi, K. P. (2010) Measuring User Influence in Twitter: The Million Follower Fallacy. ICWSM '10: Proceedings of international AAAI Conference on Weblogs and Social Media. . info:/
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