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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IVF: Past, current and future developments


The first IVF baby, Louise Brown, was born on July 25th 1978 at the Oldham General Hospital in Manchester, UK. This technique – in vitro fertilization – involves removing and isolating an egg or eggs from a woman’s body and allowing sperm to fertilize them outside the body (in vitro) in a laboratory. The fertilized egg is then implanted into the woman’s uterus, hopefully resulting in pregnancy.

This technique was pioneered by consultant gynecologist Patrick Steptoe and Cambridge research physiologist Robert Edwards. This was a major stepping stone in the world of reproductive biology, and science as a whole, and since Louise Brown, it is estimated that over five million babies have been born worldwide using this same technique.

Advances in

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Opinions on systematic review use in policymaking

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SR use in policymaking image

“There is no such thing as public opinion. There is only published opinion” – Sir Winston Churchill

Should systematic reviews be used to inform policymaking? The debate for and against can get quite heated. New research published yesterday in Systematic Reviews indicates that those who are critical of using systematic reviews in policymaking are more than twice as likely to have pharmaceutical, tobacco or insurance industry ties compared with those who support their use.

Evidence-based policy has a simple aim; use evidence to inform policymaking.

The use of systematic reviews has become increasingly common. Instead of having different pieces of evidence scattered across different platforms, systematic reviews allow researchers to summarize the evidence into a form that can be …

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The challenges of getting your research published when English is not your first language

Language barriers faced by ESL authors

Research in a new white paper we published last week found that using a trusted editing service increased acceptance rates for papers whose authors’ first language wasn’t English. We take a look at some of the challenges these researchers face, and what publishers can do to help.

In academia, competence in writing in English is increasingly regarded as an essential component to visibility and more specifically to getting your research published in international journals.

The challenges faced by English as a Second Language (ESL) researchers in writing for submission to English language journals is well documented, and not insignificant. It isn’t just …

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Unusual case of a tapeworm moving across the brain sparks genomic insight

Brain MRI Scan over time Credit Nagui Antoun

Dr Hayley Bennett is a researcher from the parasite genomics group at the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute. She is the lead author of an article published in Genome Biology which has revealed the genome of a rare tapeworm found living inside a patient’s brain. In this post she talks about new developments in genome sequencing that are managing to reveal an impressive amount of detail on potential drug targets for rare infections.

We have recently collaborated with pathologists, radiologists and clinicians looking at an exceptionally rare case of a tapeworm in a patient’s brain. The worm was removed by surgery and the material was used to find out more about a hitherto unsequenced order of tapeworms.

The case had baffled clinicians …

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On 20 years and open access: Q&A with Professor Wen-Chang Chang

The editorial board of Journal of Biomedical Science celebrated the journal’s 20th Anniversary in Taipei Medical University, Taiwan

At the start of November, the Editorial Board of the Journal of Biomedical Science gathered for a very special board meeting, marking the journal’s 20th anniversary. To celebrate this landmark, we spoke to Editor-in-Chief Wen-Chang Chang about the journal’s history and its switch – five years ago – to open access.

In the 20 years since your journal started, what changes have you seen to publishing, and researchers’ attitudes to open access?

In these 20 years, the Journal of Biomedical Science (JBS) has changed from traditional to open access publishing. The journal became open access in 2009. We noticed a tremendous increase in number of submissions when this change took place – from 286 submissions in 2008, to 524 submissions in …

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Take a deep breath for COPD day

World COPD Day 2014

The third biggest killer

Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease, better known simply as COPD, is the third leading cause of death worldwide. Three million people died of COPD in 2012 according to the WHO, yet public awareness of this disease isn’t nearly as high as say cancer, HIV or heart disease.

This is where the Global Initiative for Chronic Obstructive Lung Disease (GOLD) come in with their annual World COPD Day, hoping to raise awareness about COPD and improve treatment options worldwide.





So, what exactly is COPD?

COPD can be classified as a narrowing of the airways which obstructs normal breathing, resulting in symptoms such as chronic cough, shortness of breath and abnormal sputum production.

COPD is an umbrella term encompassing a whole range …

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15 million babies born too soon: World Prematurity Day 2014

Credit to DFID

This year 15 million babies will be born prematurely, with 1 million a year – or 3000 a day – dying as a result of premature birth. And for the first time in history, preterm birth has overtaken pneumonia as the leading cause of death in young children.

Today marks the 4th World Prematurity Day, a global effort to raise awareness of preterm birth and its prevention, involving over 200 countries, NGOs and relevant organizations.

What are the problems?

Preterm birth is now the leading global killer of young children with more than 3,000 children dying daily from preterm birth complications as outlined in a recent Lancet special issue.

Across the world, the top 5 countries with the highest numbers of babies …

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