November blogs digest: Kissing, open access, zombie ants, and more


There were posts on everything from diabetes to chemical sterilization in dogs across our blogs in November. Catch up on our most popular posts here:

The Impact Factor of journals converting from subscription to open access

In January, BioMed Central Publisher Stefan Busch wrote a piece about the Impact Factor trend of established journals that had joined our portfolio of open access publications. He asked whether there was an open access citation effect to observe, and whether the findings had implications for an editorial strategy? The answer was ‘yes’ to both questions.

In a new post in early November, Stefan reported additional data, which is helping the picture become more fine grained. It shows the extent and the sustainability of the Impact Factor gains …

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World AIDS Day 2014: can better access help Close the Gap?


There is great inequality in the world, and today, on World AIDS Day, the inequality in healthcare is plainly obvious as many people do not have access to comprehensive antiretroviral therapy that is designed to help keep the disease at bay.

So, with this in mind, how could we end the AIDS epidemic by 2030, as UNAIDS state is possible in their 2014 report?

The answer is by closing the gap between those people who have access to HIV prevention, treatment and support services and those that do not. Closing the gap means empowering and enabling all people, everywhere, to access the services they need. No one should be left behind.

Stigma associated with the disease has resulted …

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Research Involvement and Engagement: Partnership with patients in a new publication

Research Involvement and Engagement

“No matter how complicated the research, or how brilliant the researcher, patients and the public always offer unique, invaluable insights. Their advice when designing, implementing and evaluating research invariably makes studies more effective, more credible and often more cost efficient as well.”  Professor Dame Sally Davies (Foreword in Staley 2009)


Patient and public involvement (PPI) in research is now a well-accepted concept and, although barriers still exist, it is increasingly embedded into the work of of key organisations, such as INVOLVE, SPOR, PCORI and the NCRI. Defined as research ‘by’ and ‘with’ – rather than ‘about’, ‘to’ or ‘for’ – patients, carers and the public, it emphasises working with patients and the public to make sure that what

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Can we eliminate mosquito-borne diseases? Progress in combating dengue and malaria

Wikimedia Commons (Doc James)

Vector-borne diseases account for more than 17% of all infectious illnesses and cause over a million deaths annually. Infections carried by mosquitoes make a substantial contribution to the global burden of vector-borne diseases; every year, malaria is responsible for more than 600,000 deaths, and 50-100 million people are thought to be infected with dengue. After attending two tropical medicine meetings hosted by RSTMH – the biennial Measuring Progress conference and a one-day meeting on vector-borne diseases – BMC Medicine takes a look at the current impact of mosquito-borne diseases and the steps being taken to combat them.

Dengue outbreaks and surveillance

A number of dengue outbreaks have recently been reported, with infections seen in Madeira,

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A ticking time bomb? Ebola and the neglected tropical diseases


Ripudaman K Bains is the Assistant Editor of Genome Biology, and the in-house editor of the journal’s special issue on the ‘genomics of infectious diseases

In recent months, infectious diseases have been at the forefront of public attention. The deepening Ebola crisis in West Africa has now claimed nearly 6,000 lives, and although the international response is increasing the disease continues to strain already overextended medical infrastructure in affected countries.

It is perhaps surprising that Ebola is officially classed as a ‘neglected tropical disease’. The 2014 outbreak is the worst on record; between 1976 and 2013 there were 26 outbreaks of the virus, almost all of which occurred in sub-Saharan African nations, resulting in a total of 1,716 …

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How can tagging a hammerhead shark help save the species?

Researcher releasing a tagged hammerhead shark

Hammerhead sharks, which recently received new protections from the UN Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals, have suffered drastic population declines in excess of 90% in some parts of the world.

In the Gulf of California, Mexico particularly, scalloped hammerheads are susceptible to being caught by fishing nets while moving into the open sea. However, little information exists on their exact movements, especially those of juvenile sharks as they go through their critical period of adolescence.

New research published in Animal Biotelemetry has now for the first time tracked the precise movements of a young hammerhead shark over a 10-month period, revealing important gaps in current efforts to protect this endangered species. The study is the first …

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Are carbon nanotubes the next asbestos?


A study published last week in Particle and Fibre Toxicology has found that carbon nanotubes can induce cancer in rats, in a similar way to asbestos. In this guest post, Dr Craig Poland, Associate Editor on the journal, examines the study and explains why it doesn’t mean that carbon nanotubes are the next asbestos.

Last week, Susanne Rittinghausen and colleagues from the Fraunhofer and Leibniz Institutes in Germany published the outcome of a two-year rodent study into the carcinogenicity of carbon nanotubes.


The results were surprising although not wholly unexpected and show the most convincing evidence to date on the potential for some carbon nanotubes to cause a type of cancer most commonly associated with asbestos exposure.


But before we …

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Who reviews the reviewers?


The problem of fake peer reviewers is affecting the whole of academic journal publishing and we are among the ranks of publishers hit by this type of fraud. This has been covered by Retraction Watch several times, including here, here, here and here, as well as by the New York Times.

The spectrum of ‘fakery’ has ranged from authors suggesting their friends who agree in advance to provide a positive review, to elaborate peer review circles where a group of authors agree to peer review each others’ manuscripts, to impersonating real people, and to generating completely fictitious characters. From what we have discovered amongst our journals, it appears to have reached a higher level of sophistication. The pattern …

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Dairy products and type 2 diabetes: protective or harmful?

Yoghurt (cropped)

It is recommended that we should eat dairy products such as milk, cheese and yoghurt as part of a healthy diet. Because these foods are high in protein and calcium, moderate consumption of low-fat dairy products is thought to be important for growth, repair and strong bones.

However, some recent studies have suggested that eating dairy products might not be as good for us as previously thought. A study published last week suggested that drinking three or more glasses of milk a day may be linked to increased fracture risk, and a Swedish investigation found a lower incidence of lung, breast and ovarian cancer in those with lactose intolerance – people who avoid consuming dairy …

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The long-lasting impact of El Niño on child growth in Peru





A study published today in Climate Change Responses explains how the El Niño can stunt children’s growth. Heather Danysh, is a doctoral candidate in Epidemiology at the University of Texas School of Public Health and an author of this study. In this guest post, she explains what El Nino is and the affect of climate change on its cyclical nature.




For centuries, the El Niño phenomenon has wreaked havoc on populations around the world through its accompanying extreme weather variability, leading to drought and flood disasters. El Niño-related disasters affect more than four times the number of people affected by other natural disasters worldwide.

El Niño is part of a normal climate phenomenon occurring every 2-7 years, and typically lasts for …

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