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Rethinking the communication of clinical trial results

Results from clinical trials are shared for two fundamental reasons - to enable clinicians to use the knowledge gained to advance clinical care, and because patients take part in clinical trials with the expectation that the results will be used to improve treatments for themselves and others. Clinical data therefore need to be communicated quickly and openly. Publishing them in scientific journals will continue to play a key part in this process, but it is important to consider any limitations and how to overcome them.
   
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Researchers debate whether journals should publish signed peer reviews

Scientific journals should start routinely publishing the text of peer reviews for each paper they accept. But there was little consensus on whether reviewers should have to publicly sign their critiques, which traditionally are accessible only to editors and authors. An informal poll of meeting attendees found overwhelming support for publishing reviews and making them easily searchable online by assigning them the digital object identifier (DOI) tracking numbers that other scientific publications receive. And that result aligned with views reported in a much larger survey of some 3000 authors, reviewers, and editors published in PLOS ONE in December 2017. The survey found 60 percent of respondents supported publishing reviews.
   
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Should access to scientific literature be free?

In an age where a vast amount of scientific literature is accessed online, whether or not this information is available for free becomes a pertinent issue. Many prominent journals are accessible only after purchasing subscriptions, and they are protected by copyright. Other journals are open access, meaning their articles are free and have no restrictions on use. This article presents one piece that discusses when and why open access is important, and a counter-piece that explains why paywalls are a necessary evil.
   
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The Fallacy of Open-Access Publication

Advocates of open access are quick to bemoan the 'paywall' that keeps people from reading research findings. The adoption of open-access publication does not eradicate the paywall, but instead moves the cost burden in front of researchers themselves. Open access has been around long enough for us to recognise that its cost cannot be borne by the external funding of individual research labs. There are also sincere academic-integrity concerns about scholars paying money to have their work published, especially as many open-access journals are run on a for-profit basis. In a sense, open access is - or can be - payola. The only source of integrity is the faith that the editors are acting honourably.
   
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Contribution statements and author order on research studies still leave readers guessing

Although many scientific journals try to provide more details about author contributions by requiring explicit statements, such contribution statements get much less attention than authorship order, according to new findings from a Georgia Tech-University of Passau team. The authors found that while researchers evaluating a paper consider contribution statements helpful for understanding the specific skills individual team members brought to the study, they still use author order for deciphering which researchers did how much of the work and deserve most of the credit. Authorship is a topic that looms large on the minds of researchers. Publications play a major role in career advancement at universities and research institutions, and authorship order is a widely used, but imprecise, way of inferring contributions from researchers. In part, the problem with contribution statements is that they aren't always available, and when they are, the statements tend to have no uniform structure.
   
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