What we read this week (20 September)

Welcome to Things we read this week, a weekly post featuring articles from around the internet recommended by BMJ Labs.


  • Yvonne Campfens asks what does AcademicTech success look like and has created the following hypothetical model. This is version: version 1.0:
    No alt text provided for this imageThe article reminded me of Joseph Esposito’s piece on When Is a Feature a Product, and a Product a Business? on Scholarly Kitchen. My impression is that most front-end feature/service development within academic publishing is created by start-ups and then adopted by Publishers. Publishers/platform providers are innovating but it tends to be more behind the scenes and involve workflow efficiencies.
  • Having said that, Atypon are launching a new personalized content discovery, targeted content promotion and discovery tool for researchers and publishers. Filling a gap in their portfolio of services and joining services like SpringerNature’s Recommended, and Elsevier’s Mendely Suggest tools and other (currently) publisher independent tools like Researcher.
  • Hindawi introduce Phenom Review, an Open Source Scholarly Infrastructure solution, in this post. “This month, a second Hindawi journal will move onto the Phenom Review system, our new peer review platform built entirely open source. Phenom Review is part of Hindawi’s collaboration with Coko utilizing their open source PubSweet framework. This is a significant milestone because while creating a peer review system and workflow for a single journal is relatively straightforward, making it flexible enough to accommodate multiple journals is much more complex. Once we can use it effectively and efficiently for two journals, it is easy to expand to more. The migration of our remaining 230 journals is expected to be completed early in the new year.”
  • Martin Paul Eve has an excellent ‘thinking things through’ post on The Problems of Unit Costs Per Article. Also see comments on twitter. In her post, Yvonne Campfens, pointed out that although the path to success appears to be linear the reality it is very messy. Switching from subscription models to APCs is going to be messy and some more thinking around what else might happen in the ecosystem is needed. Although it’s hard to argue against transparency as a value, transparency can work both ways. One of the potential unintended consequences of APC could be that the same data is turned around to measure the unit cost/value of authors.

Medicine and research Impact

  • The Knowledge Nudge focuses on all things knowledge translation (KT) such as the science of KT, patient engagement, and media & dissemination and including this one on Knowledge brokers — often the ‘doers’ of knowledge translation — are increasingly used to close the gap between research and practice, and facilitate the development of relationships that are critical to effective knowledge translation. 
  • The Research Impact online summit is back on 21-22 October. If even this isn’t your area it’s a really interesting way to hear about researcher concerns and motivations.
  • Based On Science from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine aims to answer common, everyday questions that people have about science and human health. It uses the community of experts to provide the most up-to-date, evidence-based information about science and health questions that affect the decisions we make each day.
  • We came across Hippomedics at a conference this week. They create easy to understand medical physiology animations/videos. We liked this one about What happens when humans drink seawater?

Innovation and product management

  • All kinds of interesting innovation ‘things’ with voice tech and storytelling in the talks from ONA19.
  • Erik Starck writes about King for a Day vs Internal Hackathons. I heard Kevin Hale talk about King for a Day in another talk and it seems like a really good idea. “They pick a person at random from the employees and make her or him “King/Queen for a Day”. That person then get to decide what features to work on during the King for a Day-hackathon. The entire company gets behind the feature, from marketing to sales and R&D. At Wufoo, this lead to a boost in company morale. Everyone felt they worked on something meaningful to the product.”
  • Stuck for a way to test your idea? Steve Glaveski has come up with 12 Types of Prototypes to Test Your Idea
  • Steve Blank on AgileFall in real life and what to do about it.

What we read this week (6 September)

Welcome to Things we read this week, a weekly post featuring articles from around the internet recommended by BMJ Labs.


Peer review

  • Elsevier Connect has a write up of the  Elsevier’s Research Funders Summit in Combating bias, preserving research integrity – it’s all part of scientific review including the following comment from Dr. Sally Amero at NIH: “Some of the things we’re dealing with now include threats and bribes to reviewers or against reviewers … cabals and networks of people across the country who are looking out for each other’s welfare, embellished bio sketches, reciprocal and requested favors. Incomplete conflict of interest certifications is becoming more and more of a concern. Leaks of information before the meeting, inappropriate access to our secure review site, and applications being shared outside of our review meeting.”


Conferences and dissemination

And finally…

Great article about statistics in the New Yorker. It covers Shipman, statins, and aspirin:

“The dangers of making individual predictions from our collective characteristics were aptly demonstrated in a deal struck by the French lawyer André-François Raffray in 1965. He agreed to pay a ninety-year-old woman twenty-five hundred francs every month until her death, whereupon he would take possession of her apartment in Arles.

At the time, the average life expectancy of French women was 74.5 years, and Raffray, then forty-seven, no doubt thought he’d negotiated himself an auspicious contract. Unluckily for him, as Bill Bryson recounts in his new book, “The Body,” the woman was Jeanne Calment, who went on to become the oldest person on record. She survived for thirty-two years after their deal was signed, outliving Raffray, who died at seventy-seven. By then, he had paid more than twice the market value for an apartment he would never live in.”

What we read this week (15 February)

Welcome to Things we read this week, a weekly post featuring articles from around the internet recommended by BMJ Labs.


In Postcards from a Collective Ecosystem Article 3 Heather Staines and Lisa Hinchliffe discuss if publishers really need platforms or a common infrastructure? I’m always slightly surprised at people’s surprise that large commercial publishers collaborate together given the increasing, number of standards and initiatives that publishers participate in and support. See, for example, the OA Switchboard, a new collaboration designed to enable publishers, academic institutions, and research funders to seamlessly communicate information about open access publications.

Two fairly similar visions of the future were proposed this week including Stern and O’Shea’s “publish first, curate second approach” for the life sciences and Jon Tennant’s vision of how he would like scholarly publishing to develop, which includes the oft discussed question of why can’t you build a journal using GitHub ans Stack Exchange?

Publishing is a complex system and like most complex systems nothing much seems to change until suddenly it does. The shift from curated bundles of subscription journal content towards open access articles is going to shake up academic publishing. Hopefully we wont end up with an all powerful commercial aggregator that calls the shots and mediates what people – see Ben Thompson’s discussion in The Cost of Apple News.

Outside of academic publishing technology is rapidly advancing, Azeem Azhar has a good summary of fuss around OpenAI’s service GPT2, an AI text generator, which the group reckoned was too dangerous to be released publicly. Scroll down to the section called Dept of artificial intelligence. How long will it be before someone submits a journal article written this way and gets it accepted in order to highlight flaws in current publishing systems?

Other links:

Health Tech

The Topol Review on Preparing the healthcare workforce to deliver the digital future is an interesting glimpse into the near future. Excellent thread on Twitter about the launch event from Andrew Davies.

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