Thursday, 24 April 2008

WHO renames bird flu viruses

The World Health Organisation has standardised the nomenclature for H5N1 avian influenza viruses. The group of “Fujian-like” viruses should be referred to as “clade 2.3.4,” for example. WHO says the reason for the change is scientific and that it was already in progress when China complained that the name stigmatises its province. Clade 2.3.4 viruses are not restricted to Fuijan—they have caused cases of bird flu in humans in Laos, Burma, and Vietnam. “The geographical naming system [is] rather confusing and unspecific; this more precise numbering system is far more rigorous,” said Edward Holmes, a flu genomicist. See (Nature 2008 Apr 23; doi: 10.1038/452923a)

Tuesday, 22 April 2008

Editorial boards lack women

Women made up only a fifth (21%) of the editorial boards in 2005, although they were far worse represented in 1970, with just 1% of positions, a 35 year study of 16 prominent biomedical journals has shown (Arch Intern Med 2008;168:547-8). Seven per cent of the journals' chief editors have been women, but having a female editor made no significant difference to the sex distribution of the board. Women were better represented in specialty clinical journals, such as the Pediatrics, and general medical journals, such as the BMJ, than in biomedical science journals, such as Cell. In an accompanying editorial (p 446) Nanette Wenger calls for journals to “explore their ranks for gender diversity.”

Spanish portal opens access

A national portal for Spanish open access scientific publications, Recolecta (, has been launched. The project is a collaboration between the Spanish network of libraries REBIUN and the Spanish Foundation for Science and Technology (FECYT) to provide a national search service for open access publishing in science. Recolecta seeks to stimulate open access publishing in Spain; to coordinate the creation of a national infrastructure of institutional repositories; and to serve as a central point of information on all topics related to open access. The search engine will find open access documents in journals, institutional repositories, and disciplinary repositories. (
Thanks to Emma Campbell

Publishers confirm authors' rights

Advocating authors to add copyright postscripts to journal publishing agreements is a call for needless bureaucracy, said the International Association of Scientific, Technical, and Medical Publishers in March. The publishers’ group says that its statement clarifies authors’ rights: “Standard journal agreements typically allow authors to use their published paper . . . for educational purposes . . . and to post some version of the paper on a preprint server, their institutional repository, or a personal website.” Michael Mabe, head of the association, said, “Policy debate should be . . . based on evidence and consultation.” ( and
Thanks to Joan Marsh

Tuesday, 15 April 2008

Web ability declines with age

People’s ability to use websites declines between the ages of 35 and 60 by 0.8% a year, says the web usability specialist Jakob Nielsen. This is because they spend more time per page, and they visit more pages to find what they are looking for. This age group represents half of the population of the United States, has the best jobs, and spends the most money online. Nielsen advises to “test participants across the entire age range you’re targeting” and not to “believe everything your 25 year old web designers tell you about what’s easy.” (

Students plagiarise plagiarism code

Students at the University of Texas at San Antonio drafted a code to discourage plagiarism, but they took sections from Brigham Young University’s plagiarism code, which they found online, a Nature blog reports. They even copied the definition of plagiarism. Both codes say, “Inadvertent plagiarism involves the inappropriate, but non-deliberate, use of another’s words, ideas, or data without appropriate attribution.” The student in charge of the project said that the lack of credit was an oversight. The entire Nature blog entry was copied from other (referenced) sources. (

Blog till you drop

Two fatal heart attacks in the United States may have been a result of stress caused by excessive blogging, an article in the New York Times suggests. Other bloggers complain of weight loss or gain, sleep disorders, and mental health problems. Bloggers are “toiling under great physical and emotional stress created by the around-the-clock internet economy that demands a steady stream of news and comment,” the article says. In some sectors blogging is highly competitive. Financial rewards are often low and based on the number of posts written or the hits an entry gets. Some journalists have been fired for not meeting hits targets. ( and