Evaluating digital information – new librarians group launches

Image credit: “Information” by Takashi .M, Flickr. CC BY.

Five librarians have united behind one goal: to articulate and showcase the vital role of librarians in evaluating digital information. Why?

“Because Google can bring you 100,000 answers but a librarian can bring you the right one” Source: New York Times

Information literacy is relevant at all stages of a person’s life, from the earliest education to the most advanced phases. Our online world affords access to more information than ever before in history, requiring new focus on how to manage, evaluate and create credible content. Far from making librarians obsolete, the digital age solidifies their role forever.

Image credit: “Twitter” by Esther Vargas, Flickr, CC BY-SA

The group came together because they were all interested in the same stories on social media. It comprises the following people:

  1. Marcus Banks (@marcusabanks) – advocate for transformation of scholarly publishing. Most recently, Head, Blaisdell Medical Library, UC Davis, CA, USA, now freelance journalist and consultant (to Annual Reviews and others).
  2. Shona Kirtley (@EQUATORNetwork) – Knowledge and Information Manager, Senior Research Information Specialist for Equator Network which works to enhance the quality and transparency of health research.
  3. Yvonne Nobis (@yvonnenobis) – Head of Science Information Services at Cambridge University, overseeing the Central Science Library and the Betty and Gordon Moore Library.
  4. Ana Patricia Ayala (@uoftlibraries) – Instruction and Faculty Liaison Librarian at Gerstein Science Information Centre at the University of Toronto Libraries.
  5. Lindsey Sikora (@uOttawaBiblio) – Acting Head Geographic, Statistical, and Government Info Centre/Faculty of Social Sciences at University of Ottawa,@uOttawaBiblio.

Like all savvy teams, they have a tagline which is “Better Information. Better Decisions” and their first three deliverables are in support of it:

  • An article on trust and authority in academic literature which discusses the different types of research information, how they are created and the part this plays in establishing their importance. Summer 2017.
  • An Early Career Researcher survey on Systematic literature review open to those from all disciplines (not just biomedical fields). Full results will be shared. Fall 2017.
  • A field guide to Systematic literature review with a Webinar to walk researchers through the key steps. Fall 2017.

While they are working on the first item on this list, they’ve also curated a list of existing (mainly open) resources in one spot because they noticed that many excellent information sources on this topic are scattered about the internet.

And, like any group that’s ever tried to make a difference, they need some support which is supplied by nonprofit publisher Annual Reviews (@AnnualReviews).

Finally, since there’s strength in numbers, if any other librarians wish to join the gang and get involved then please contact the project lead, Marcus Banks. You can find the project website here and are welcome to leave your feedback as a comment or simply tweet @marcusabanks.

Annual Review of Statistics and Its Application, Volume 4

Investigate the full table of contents for Volume 4 of the Annual Review of Statistics and Its Application.

st4-fingerprintOne topic I’ve been tracking for a while is addressed by Stern’s article “Statistical Issues in Forensic Science.”  In the past decade, there have been many challenges to accepted forensic science—such as fingerprint analysis. Fingerprints are used by the author to demonstrate how statistical methods could be used to address current problems:

Another concern expressed in the 2009 NRC report is whether the forensic practitioner community has a full appreciation of the role of uncertainty in forensic examinations. For many years (through the early 2000s), it was common for latent print examiners to support a claimed identification by noting that the process they followed had zero error rate. Another popular claim was that the source of a print was identified to the exclusion of all other people that had ever lived or ever would live. Those who work in scientific disciplines and appreciate the role of uncertainty know that such claims are not credible. Recent studies have demonstrated a low but nonzero misidentification error rate for latent fingerprint examiners. In other forensic disciplines, it is common to have examiners testify to a “reasonable degree of scientific certainty.” This language was recently criticized by the NCFS because it does not have a standard definition and might confuse or mislead jurors (NCFS 2016).

Jeffrey T. Leek & Leah R. Jager tackle another much discussed topic in their article “Is Most Published Research Really False?” This has been a concern in many fields for the past several years, and because a lot of the discussion has involved some high-level statistics, I was very glad to find more information from this perspective. The introduction is especially good at laying out some of the possible concerns:

But this system was invented before modern computing, data generation, scientific software, email, the Internet, and social media. Each of these inventions has placed strain on the scientific publication infrastructure. These modern developments have happened during the careers of practicing scientists. Many laboratory leaders received their training before the explosion of cheap data generation, before the widespread use of statistics and computing, and before there was modern data analytic infrastructure. At the same time, there has been increasing pressure from review panels, hiring committees, and funding agencies to publish positive and surprising results in the scientific literature. These trends have left scientists with a nagging suspicion that some fraction of published results are at minimum exaggerated and at worst outright false.

Statistics articles ripped from the headlines? We have one! For example, Dwork et al.’s article “Exposed! A Survey of Attacks on Private Data” offers an introduction to an interesting facet of the privacy discussion: How do we use information publicly while protecting a sensitive dataset:

We focus on the simple scenario in which there is a dataset x containing sensitive information, and the goal is to release statistics about the dataset to the public. These statistics may be fixed in advance or may be chosen by the analyst, who queries the dataset. Speaking intuitively (because we have not yet defined privacy), the goal in privacy-preserving data analysis is to protect the privacy of the individual records in the dataset, even if the analyst maliciously chooses queries according to an attack strategy designed to compromise privacy.

Suzanne K. Moses is Annual Reviews’ Senior Electronic Content Coordinator. For 15+ years, she has played a central role in the publication of Annual Reviews’ online articles. Not a single page is posted online without first being proofed and quality checked by Suzanne.

Annual Review of Cancer Biology – now available online

We are delighted to announce the launch of the Annual Review of Cancer Biology, the 47th in our collection of highly cited review journals. It seems appropriate to focus on Cancer Research, a field that is deeply linked to the investigation of central themes in the life sciences, during our 85th year of service to the research community. It is also a natural fit for the interdisciplinary coverage of our portfolio of existing journals.

Co-Editors Dr. Tyler Jacks (Director of the Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research at MIT) and Dr. Charles L. Sawyers (Chair of the Human Oncology and Pathogenesis Program at Memorial Sloan Kettering) said:

“Cancer Biology covers a wide range of disciplines that are converging to provide a deep understanding of the cancer cell and the various biological and physiological processes that contribute to tumor initiation and progression. These advances—coupled with the application of an increasing array of powerful technologies—have paved the way for the development of numerous new medicines that are greatly benefiting cancer patients.”

Annual Review of Cancer Biology cover icon

Their introduction to the first volume summarizes the goals of this new publication. The first volume of the Annual Review of Cancer Biology contains more than twenty reviews that address the basic mechanisms of cancer development and the translation to therapeutic strategies today and in the future. The journal scope includes three broad themes to cover a broad spectrum of the rapidly moving cancer biology field: Cancer Cell Biology, Tumorigenesis and Cancer Progression, and Translational Cancer Science.

The first volume also contains a review by Dr. Harold Varmus (Weill Cornell Medical College) entitled How Tumor Virology Evolved into Cancer Biology and Transformed Oncology (published Open Access). Dr. Sawyers expanded, “Cancer research has become deeply linked to investigation of the central themes in the life sciences. Dr. Varmus’s work has been important to the evolution of our interdisciplinary science.”

Tyler Jacks, MIT.

Dr. Jacks is also involved in the Cancer Moonshot, where he serves as the Scientific Panel Co-Chair. Former US Vice-President Joe Biden updated attendees of SXSW on March 12th with progress of the Moonshot. To learn more about Dr. Jacks’ dedication to cancer research, check out his presentation at TEDxCambridge: Tyler Jacks (Life lessons from 34 years of fighting cancer.)

Charles L. Sawyers, MSKCC.

Dr. Sawyers is involved in Stand up to Cancer, a groundbreaking initiative created to accelerate innovative cancer research and quickly provide patients with access to new therapies in the hope of saving lives. He is the co-leader of the Scientific Research Dream Team on Precision Therapy for Advanced Prostate Cancer.

This journal is now available online (March 6th, 2017). If you are a journalist, writer, or blogger who wants access to this and/or other Annual Reviews journals, please email us. The official Press Release is available in our Press Center.

Annual Reviews is a nonprofit publisher dedicated to synthesizing and integrating knowledge for the progress of science and the benefit of society.


The secret is out – calling all science writers!

Annual Reviews logo.

Annual Reviews is a nonprofit publisher of highly cited reviews that synthesize the research literature in a clear and compelling style to stimulate discussion about the science that shapes our lives.

Journalists, bloggers and writers tell us that we’re a “go-to resource” when it comes to researching the background on a story or on days when they have to deliver a piece and inspiration is thin on the ground!

Reading our reviews is like “being transported into the laboratory of the leading scientists in the area, who explain what’s going on in the field”. They come away with a richer understanding than they could gain in any other way.

Image credit: marcmo, Flickr, CC BY NC-ND
Image credit: marcmo, Flickr, CC BY NC-ND

To access this highly cited content that spans 47 disciplines within the Biomedical, Life, Physical, and Social Sciences including Economics all you have to do is email your writing credentials to marketing@annualreviews.org. It’s that simple.

If you use Annual Reviews content, please credit the Author/s and the name of the journal. You are welcome to link directly to our article and if you do so, let us know beforehand (email address as above) and we will provide your readers with complimentary access.

Annual Reviews is a treasured writers resource because every article:

  • Synthesizes the most significant research contributions on the most critical topics
  • Provides a thorough and balanced understanding of a subject from invited experts
  • Helps situate research within current understanding of a topic, including what is well supported and what is controversial.
  • Explores the interface between fields as most progress takes place at the confluence of two or more fields. We enable researchers to reach across disciplinary boundaries.
  • Provides historical context and sweeping panoramas of where research fields originated, where they stand now, and where they should go.
  • Poses compelling questions for the future.
  • Outlines practical applications and the broad general significance of research to the wider public.
  • Stands as a testament to human ingenuity in terms of our understanding of nature, the universe, and the human condition.

WCSJAnnual Reviews is also a proud early sponsor of the World Conference of Science Journalists taking place in San Francisco in 2017. We look forward to providing you with Free WiFi for a day and meeting you all there! To find out more about the event you can sign up for the conference newsletter.

Boosting the reach and impact of Annual Reviews articles – KUDOS for authors

Every once in a while, a digital research communication tool that serves a real need and is both well designed and easy-to-use comes along. This doesn’t happen every day!


Recently, Annual Reviews introduced its authors to KUDOS, a tool that makes it simple for them to claim, explain and share their research. The service won a prestigious “Innovation in Publishing Award” in 2015 from the Association of Learned and Professional Society Publishers.

We chose this service because although a lot of energy is directed towards writing and preparing the review, somewhat less is spent on arguably the most important part of the publishing cycle, namely sharing this knowledge with others thereby increasing its reach and impact.

As one author amusingly describes it: “Invitations to write an Annual Review article typically elicit some mix of thrill, dread, pleasure, indecision, burden, intimidation, and challenge—not unlike commencing one’s PhD or undertaking a skydive.” Durham W. 1999. Preface. Annual Review of Anthropology. Vol. 28

Authors write reviews as a service to those in their discipline and society as a whole. Annual Reviews provides them with a concierge publishing experience. Our skilled editors are hands-on in terms of copyediting, layout and figure editing (see before and after below), resulting in compelling articles that are clearly presented for an expert and broad audience.


To ensure visibility for these high-quality reviews, we invite our authors to register with KUDOS (which takes about 30 seconds) and share their work with the world. A helpful and short video about this free service can be found here. They can then claim their review/s and are prompted to:

  • Write a pithy headline
  • State what the article is about
  • Explain why it is important
  • Add, any additional perspectives that they wish to share

Within about 15 minutes or so, Authors have created an introduction about their article (which also links to the review itself) and they can then seamlessly share it on social media from the same page. The results (Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn etc.) can be viewed and there’s even a link to the ISI citation count for that article.

And the best part? Although not everyone is an Annual Reviews author, anyone can sign up for KUDOS, the service is completely free to end-users.

Annual Reviews participates in OA Cooperative Study

Image credit: Coaker’s Press, By Robert Hiscock, CC-BY-NC-ND.

Annual Reviews, a non-profit research publisher, is partnering with The Public Knowledge Project, Stanford University and SPARC in the OA Cooperative study.

This short update was written by Kamran Naim, Strategic Development Manager here at Annual Reviews and on the study project team with President and Editor-In-Chief, Richard Gallagher. 

Funded by the MacArthur Foundation, this 2-year study seeks to examine alternatives to the predominant Article Processing Charge (APC) model in Open Access, which although proven to be effective in the sciences – particularly the biomedical sciences – is not workable for all disciplines, nor for monographs or secondary research publications such as ours. 

The study aims to examine and explore viable financial models for transitioning from subscription to open access models for these literature types. Although many research libraries are as willing to support open access as they are to pay for subscriptions, the best transition path between the two models is in need of further testing and analysis. Global subscription revenues in excess of ten billion dollars annually worldwide suggest that there is more than enough money being spent on scholarly publishing to fund universal Open Access.

Examples are emerging within the research library community that are leveraging a spirit of cooperation towards advancing Open Access. An example includes Knowledge Unlatched, where a few hundred research libraries have banded together to underwrite the cost of open access monographs from major scholarly publishers, again without charge to authors or readers. Other organizations doing interesting work in this regard include Open Library of Humanities and OAPEN. It’s great that a number of leaders of these organizations are also participating in the OA Cooperative study with Annual Reviews. 

This growing sense of cooperation signals that the time is right for systematic data-gathering, analysis, and trials of a cooperative publishing model. Accordingly, the research question of the OA Cooperative study considers whether cooperatives can offer economically responsible and sustainable open access to rigorously reviewed and professionally published research? Working in partnership with the project team, Annual Reviews is providing data to support the project in assessing the feasibility, as well as the structure, organization, and governance of such co-ops. 

Watch this space for further updates on the Study.