In the January-March 2011 issue of Science Editor, available online, Lauren Fischer discusses errata in her article, “Setting the Record Straight: Publishing Errata in the Print and Online World” (pages 3-5).

Fischer writes:

One feature that uniquely exemplifies the challenges of publishing in print and online is the correction notice, or erratum. Figuring out how to handle errata online is like trying to hit a moving target. In our efforts to keep up with the online world, the corrections process can become muddled. I spoke with Lou Knecht, deputy chief of the Bibliographic Services Division of the National Library of Medicine (NLM), and she made an excellent point about corrections: “There hasn’t been a collegial discussion where we ask ourselves, ‘Are we doing the best thing?’”

Fischer outlines some basic best practices, such as publishing correction notices in ways that are citable and providing a clear and detailed description of the error in the correction notice.

However, many questions remain. For instance, what makes an electronic document citable? Is it the DOI? Or is it some other numeric article identifier that is a proxy for pagination? What do we do about different electronic versions online, and are we ensuring that all versions are corrected or linked to the published erratum? How do we best address errors in articles published ahead of print?

Fischer’s analysis is thought-provoking and brings the reader back again and again to the question: what are best practices for handling errata? She has invited Science Editor readers to comment on how their publications handle errata, and I hope you will do so here or on CSE’s other social media outlets.


This spring, there are plenty of educational offerings out there for CSE members. It’s a great time to learn something new or just brush up on your skills.

Journal Apps

Next Tuesday, March 22, the CSE Education Committee presents a webinar on journal apps. The event starts at 2:00 pm ET and features speakers from Nature Publishing Group, Dartmouth Journal Services, and the American Psychological Association. The Education Committee has identified the target audience as publishers, technology directors, IT staff, managing editors, web content developers, and production staff. I love the apps on my iPod Touch, and I’m especially interested in hearing the three case studies. I want to know how they’ve implemented apps in a journal environment and what kind of response they are getting.  It’s a hot topic, for sure!

Form Follows Function

On April 14, Allen Press will hold its Emerging Trends in Scholarly Publishing Seminar in Washington, DC. Titled “Form Follows Function: Letting Users Design the New Architecture,” this seminar will 1) take a look at the peer review system and explore alternatives, 2) provide an opportunity for round table discussions of 12 topics, 3) examine the relationship between publishers and librarians, 4) explore semantic technology, 5) discuss ideas for new revenue sources, and 6) delve into apps for the delivery of our content.  (Full disclosure: I’ll be a moderator at the round table discussions, and Allen Press provides printing services for Science Editor.)

New Short Course on Publication Ethics

Prior to the CSE Annual Meeting, a new Short Course on Publication Ethics will be offered on Friday, April 29, in Baltimore, MD. From 1:00 pm to 5:00 pm, attendees will review case studies and use CSE’s White Paper on Promoting Integrity in Scientific Journal Publications, 2009 Update as a guide.

CSE Short Courses

Four other short courses will be held prior to the CSE annual meeting, on April 29-30: The Short Course for Journal Editors (2-day program), the Short Course on Publication Management (1-day), the Short Course for Manuscript Editors (1-day), and the Short Course on Journal Metrics (1-day). See the CSE web site for full descriptions and consider attending a course!

CSE Annual Meeting – Early Bird Deadline Approaching!

The CSE Annual Meeting will be held May 1-3 in Baltimore, MD. The early bird deadline is March 18, 2011, so register today for some cost savings!

Riding to work on Metro this morning, an advertisement for an educational program at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History caught my eye. If you’re in Washington, DC, “Climate, Oceans, and Human Health: The Cholera Paradigm” begins at 6:30 pm tomorrow evening (February 24) at the museum’s Baird Auditorium–and it’s free. For those of you not in the DC area, you can catch the live webcast.

The speaker is Dr. Rita Colwell, Distinguished University Professor at the University of Maryland at College Park and at Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health. You may also know  her as the former director of the National Science Foundation. I think it should be a great talk. And its focus on the effect of climate change on communicable diseases–on people (eg, Haitians suffering from cholera)–is really important.

A new year has commenced. I hope the first week back at work is a productive one for you!

Registration is now open for CSE’s 2011 Annual Meeting.  I hope you’ll take a look at the program online and consider attending. New this year is a Short Course on Publication Ethics, which will take place from 8:00 until 5:00 on Friday, April 29. Those registering for this short course will be able to take $75 off the registration fee for any Saturday course (Publication Management, Manuscript Editors, and Journal Metrics).

If you plan on attending the annual meeting and are interested in reporting on a session or two, please send me an e-mail. My plan is to call on the services of some special guest bloggers to post short reports on each session, with more in-depth analysis to follow in the print issue as needed.

Tomorrow is Monday, the first day of the week before many of us depart for the Christmas holidays. To start your week off on a lighter tone, I thought I would share pictures from our walk today in Huntley Meadows Park (Fairfax County, Virginia). Huntley Meadows path

We have snow in Virginia, thanks to a light dusting we received earlier in the week. The paths in the park were still snow-covered, but the sun was out and the walk was enjoyable. Visiting this wetland area in the summer is fun, as there are plenty of heron, ducks, and turtles to watch. Today, however, we just saw tracks–and lots of them.Huntley Meadows, animal tracks in the snow Huntley Meadows, sun and animal tracks

The best surprise came at the end of our walk when we came upon a beaver den built right next to the raised walkway! Clearly, these were busy critters, and–judging by the hefty tree branches near their home–they weren’t finished. Huntley Meadows, beaver den

So, here’s hoping that your week–if busy–will be productive. And happy holidays!

The holidays are upon us, and we are all busy getting things finished up before some well-deserved time off.  I know I am looking forward to the break!

The November/December issue of Science Editor should go live on or soon after December 15, and hard copies will follow in the mail. I’m really happy about this month’s cover art—a fractal image created by Jennifer Ziebarth of the California College of the Arts. The issue includes the final reports from the 2010 annual meeting; updates from the International Committee of Medical Journal Editors, Society for Scholarly Publishing, and the International Society of Managing and Technical Editors; information about sightseeing in Baltimore, the site of the 2011 annual meeting; and a look back at the work accomplished by CSE’s Social Media Subcommittee in 2010. We’ve also published a haiga, which is a combination of art and haiku—something I’ve never seen before.

The Science Editor web site has been edited slightly to include important information on the main page. In addition, indexes through 2009 are available as PDFs. These indexes are the closest we can come to “Search” at this time; just use the “Find” function in Adobe to search for key words. Hopefully the future will bring XML tagging to Science Editor and allow for a better experience finding content.

Finally, I would like to encourage anyone who is conducting or has conducted research on peer review or editorial processes to consider submitting this research to Science Editor. Please contact me if you have any questions—I’m happy to advise!

This afternoon I attended the Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE) Forum at the National Academy of Sciences in Washington, DC. National Academy of SciencesChaired by Elizabeth Wager and Virginia Barbour, COPE’s Chair and Secretary, respectively, we discussed seven cases that dealt with duplicate publication, image manipulation, plagiarism, authorship order, and author misconduct. With a group of less than 20 editors, the forum was collegial and the discussion interesting. There was no voting and no consensus was reached — but that was OK. The cases will eventually be posted on COPE’s web site, which already contains over 400 cases (searchable by key word).

A few items I was reminded of during the meeting:

  • One year ago, COPE issued guidelines on retraction. These guidelines were referred to frequently during the forum, so they are worth a look.
  • COPE provides sample letters for responding to common ethical dilemmas. (You must be a COPE member to view these.) Note that CSE also offers sample correspondence for an editorial office.
  • When facing a challenging situation, COPE’s flowcharts offer recommendations for appropriate action.

Finally, listening to the cases and based on my own experience, it’s clear that you never know what ethical issues you might face in publishing. Dealing with these issues can take a tremendous amount of time. Fortunately, we have resources out there such as COPE and CSE (see CSE’s White Paper on Promoting Integrity in Scientific Journal Publications).