The fiery finger

September 21, 2007 at 4:15 am | Posted in Journals, medicine, Nature, Research, Science | Leave a comment

The public interest is not served by publishers sitting on the results of scientific research. It’s time for the practice to end,

says Bob Ward.

Papers should be thrown open to everyone, …: the point is that results should not be taken up by the media before a paper exists, for the reasons explained.

says Ben Goldacre in Bad Science on

The Joy of Ingelfingering

Front cover illustration by Quentin Blake of Roald Dahl’s The Magic Finger

This is the first time I have heard of Ingelfinger, and a flaming finger resembling The Magic Finger instantly comes to mind! (Perhaps I’ve spent too much of my children’s childhoods reading Roald Dahl stories.)

It seems like Ingelfinger’s original guideline for publishing new medical research became tangled up with marketing interests that extended its use beyond a responsible, time-honouring publication process suited to more leisurely eras.

The Ingelfinger rule obviously gained in popularity, according to Ben Goldacre:

One recent study suggested that almost three quarters of major publishers now enforce the rule, and its central principle has been endorsed by bodies such as the International Committee of Medical Journal Editors. The two most prominent multidisciplinary scientific publications, Nature and Science, both incorporate the Ingelfinger rule in their instructions to authors, as do leading medical journals such as The Lancet.

I am sure some of you (hello Darmok!) will have informed opinions on this, so I throw this post open for your knowledgable comments.

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