Thursday 13 February 2014

AGBT Wednesday 12th: No blogging allowed!

There were three great talks in the opening session of AGBT yesterday but before we kicked off Eric Green reminded everyone in the audience about the "opt-in" policy on blogging and tweeting (and any other kind of media). If someone opts out then we can't cover their talks.

AGBT speakers choosing to opt-out appears to fly in the face of what the major journals are aiming to do: keep the science community talking about science and not be overly restrictive. See what these journals have to say NEJM, Nature, Nature Methods, PLoS, Science, Cell.

But bloggers and tweeters aren't mentioned: The journal policies above all aim to restrict media coverage and Nature's editor-in-chief appears to be very clear that this is "the press" and that Nature does not intend to restrict other forms of discussion.

Bloggers and Tweeters don't come into this; or do they? Is AGBT being restrictive or forward-thinking in including "new social media tools (blogs, Twitter, etc.)"? With many blogs getting readership stats some journals may be envious of should they be considered as media? I for one don't get paid for any of my blogging, I don't do ad's and I certainly try to be clear this is simply my point of view; if you like it then enjoy and tell your friends but I don't consider myself one of the media.

I'd like to ask the embargo policy markers to discuss and consult on the risk Blogging and Tweeting have for the release of scientific data. Embargo policies have aimed to make sure everyone gets information that has been peer-reviewed, at the same time, in an informed manner and with a degree of confidence in the results. Blogs are pretty much "none of the above".

So fellow AGBT speakers please listen to this plea - don't choose to opt-out!

You're talking to us about your work anyway and hundreds of people who couldn't get in want to listen to what you've got to say. If there are some currently unpublished results restrict option 3 to those slides only and let Bloggers and Tweeters tell everyone how wonderful your talk was.

PS: some updates were due to my writing this post at 4am, jet lag's keeping me on UK time!


  1. As we mentioned in a 2011 Editorial in Nature Methods, blogging (let alone tweeting) should not run afoul of a journal's embargo policy. As you point out here, the Nature journals don't want to impede scientific discourse and do not consider tweeting and blogging of presentations at scientific conferences to be in violation of our embargo policy.

  2. Do the attendees have to sign a legally binding document, NDA etc, agreeing to comply with the exclusion of social media commentary?

    Do they define 'social media' outside of twitter, facebook, linkedin and other popular sites. In fact is there an legally accepted definition of social media?

    I expect the organisers do not have a legal leg to stand on. Blog away and let them sue. They'd just be wasting their money and ruining their credibility. The whole things is ridiculous.


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