Pubmed to trial new collaboration status tool to block interaction with ex-collaborators

Bethesda, MD. November 23, 2015.
Pubmed is to ease de-collaboration (when one stops working with a collaborator) woes by tweaking its ‘Collaboration Status’ function – allowing ex-collaborators to disappear from view without users removing them as a colleague.
The literature network will trial the new collaborator tool in the United States, with plans to roll out the changes worldwide after receiving feedback.
David Lippmann, product manager for Pubmed, said in a statement: “Starting today, we are testing tools to help researchers manage how they interact with their former collaborators on Pubmed after their collaboration has ended. When researchers change their collaboration status to indicate they are no longer in a collaboration, they will be prompted to try these tools.
“The work is part of our ongoing effort to develop resources for scholars who may be going through difficult moments in their lives. We hope these tools will help people end collaborations on Pubmed with greater ease, comfort and sense of control.”
The tools will allow users to limit the papers, data sets or status updates that an ex-collaborator will see. Without having to de-collaborate or block a former research partner, Pubmed will also make sure their name and ORCID ID do not appear in the site’s paper feed.
Their name will not be suggested either when users tag researchers in papers.
Users will also be able to edit who can see past papers with a former collaborator and untag from papers written with that person.

AAAS and SnapChat collaborate to develop SnapScience to publish scientific papers transiently

Just got this in an email and thought it should be shared.

Washington, DC. August 15, 2014.

Kent Anderson, the newly appointed Publisher of AAAS (see has announced his first action as Publisher – a partnership between AAAS and Snapchat (

Anderson said “Although I will not officially assume the role of Science publisher until 3 November, this was too important a task to not carry out immediately. AAAS has always been looking for new ways to reduce the public availability of scientific publications. AAAS approached Snapchat a few months ago and in secret developed a new App “SnapScience” which allows the transient publication of scientific articles. Article longevity can be set to 1 minute, 5 minutes or 15 minutes.”

Anderson followed this with “This kind of thing I had always hoped to do in my role as president of the Society for Scholarly Publishing but the technology was just not available. Snapchat has developed the perfect platform for the future of AAAS and scholarly publishing in general with its ability to allow readers a glimpse of a scientific article but not allow them to keep it or reread it or redisplay it.”

AAAS CEO Phil Lesher said “We have had serious issues recently with the public demanding access to articles in Science and other AAAS published journals. And in addition, we have published a slew of papers that have needed to be retracted shortly after publication. This solves both issues. First, all papers will only be transiently available, so their there is no need for retractions. Second, even scientists will only have short term access to papers so the public cannot possibly demand access for themselves.”

Anderson also said “We think SnapScience is the perfect way for me to step into my new role as Publisher of the Science family of journals. It is cutting edge. It is exactly the type of thing that publishers have been looking for. And it will be fun.”

AAAS hopes to roll out updates to SnapScience that will allow researchers to also publish data and protocols only transiently as well.

Deep Thoughts by Bill Keller Volume 2: Heroic Wheels of Science

UPDATE 1/25: (Since some people asked / were confused) — Wrote this to get people to think about how ridiculous the article by Bill Keller was in the New York Times about Lisa Adams.  I took his article about Lisa Adams and edited it to be about Stephen Hawking.  I don’t think there is any chance in hell the New York Times would have let him publish this – because it is about Hawking and because Hawking is famous and – well – possibly because Hawking is a man.  Anyway – I think Keller and his wife should be thoroughly lambasted in the press continuously for what they did and this is my contribution I guess.


From Bill Keller *

For those of you who saw my article about Lisa Adams in the New York Times on January 12, you should know that I have some very very deep thoughts I would like to share with others about how people communicate on social media about their medical problems.  I note – for those critics out there you should check out the completely and thoroughly independent assessment by Emma Keller.  Though I am married to Emma, we never actually communicate about anything (I think she may hate me) so her piece is independent.  Proof that her piece was brilliant is that the Guardian, a corrupt newspaper if I have ever seen one, removed it claiming “policy violations.”  Anywoo – because I am completely confident in the righteousness of my article (despite the vitriolic and over the top wasteful criticism of it from places like Slate, NPR, The Nation, Salon, the Washington Post, and more), and because the world clearly needs me to write more about this, I am starting a new series here.  I call it Deep Thoughts by Bill Keller.  Today’s article is below.

Heroic Wheels of Science

STEVEN HAWKING has spent the last 40+ years in a fierce and very public cage fight with death. Since a diagnosis of motor neuron disease detected the first toxic seeds of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis in his body when he was 21, he has continued to carry out scientific research and appear in public even with the advancing disease. He has written dozens of papers and books and travelled around the world discussion science through all the medical treatments. Even by contemporary standards of scientific work by people will illnesses, he is a phenomenon. (Last week he was involved in an announcement of a professorship at Cambridge University that is named after him – how arrogant.) A rapt audience of 200,000 thousand followers on Twitter and 222,000 on Facebook follow his every move – including lots of detail about space-time, about the universe, and even occasionally about his problems with ALS and his wheelchair along with all the news stories about his slow slide into death.

In the last few year, his writings have changed tone slightly; his optimism about understanding the universe and his own role in it has become a little less unassailable As 2013 ended, the ALS that had damaged his nervous system had continued to progress. He was deemed too sick to travel to some award ceremonies and conferences. He continues to be wheelchair bound and the ALS research community has embraced him as a model subject and proselytizer for medical research.

Steven Hawking is still alive, still doing research, and insists he is not dying, but the news about him has become less about prolonging his survival and more about managing his deteriorating health. His research and commentary has become darker (e.g., he focuses now on “dark” matter and God – clearly showing he is spiraling into depression). “The missing link in cosmology is the nature of dark matter and dark energy” he “said” the other day at Caltech (I note – I use the quotes for said because I am not sure whether he actually should be considered speaking).

As many who read my brilliant work know, my father-in-law’s died from cancer in a British hospital.  There were people in the hospital with ALS.  Therefore, I am an expert in ALS.  Plus,there were lots of physicians at the hospital and I talked to them a lot so I am also perfectly capable of commenting on physics now.

Among doctors here in the pathetic United States, there is a growing appreciation of palliative care for ALS patients that favors the quality of the remaining life rather than endless “heroic measures” that may or may not prolong life but assure the final days are clamorous, tense and painful. (And they often leave survivors bankrupt – although apparently Hawking has some money.) What Britain and other countries know, and my country (I refer to the US as my country because I am actually the leader of this country) is learning, is that every ALS patient need not be Hastings, a war of attrition waged regardless of the cost or the casualties. It seemed to me, and still does, that there is something enviable about going just getting it the fuck over and dying quickly. One intriguing study even suggests (although it is so important that I refuse to link to it here) that ALS patients given early palliative care instead of the most aggressive ALS therapy not only have a better quality of life, they actually live a bit longer.

When my wife, the brilliant and insightful Emma (who was named after the wonderful Emma from the Jane Austen book) thought about writing about Hawking for that crappy paper The Guardian, she introduced me to Hawking, who I had never heard of.  After this, my first thought was about how brilliant my wife is.  And about how brilliant I am.  And then I thought about food, for I was hungry.  And then I thought about how I used to be famous and worked at the New York Times.  And I was brilliant there.  And then I took a bath.  And then I went for a walk in my very large estate and used my functioning legs and my ALS-free body.  And then I looked at some birds and flowers.  And after  few weeks of this relaxation, I though of my father-in-law’s calm death and the person with ALS who I think was in the hospital and all those physics studying physicians who worked there.  And I thought about how Stephen Hawking’s choice was in a sense the opposite. His aim was to buy as much time as possible to watch his two children (Robert, Lucy and Timothy) grow up and to apparently do some more science although since I don’t understand what he works on I think it is probably not worth it. Anyway he is all about heroic measures. He is constantly engaged in battlefield strategy with his medical team – fighting ALS like some sort of fight. There is always the prospect of another research trial to excite his hopes. He responds defiantly to any suggestion that the end is approaching.

“I am not on my deathbed,” he could have told me in an email from a meeting – if he had bothered to answer the nasty email I sent him suggesting he should just die. “Periods of ALS progression and stability are part of the natural course of this disease. I will be continuing to do science and to talk about my life and diagnosis for some time to come,” he could have predicted if he would have answered me.  And I hope he is right. In any case, I cannot imagine Stephen Hawking reaching a point where resistance gives way to acceptance. That is entirely his choice, and deserving of our respect. But his decision to live his ALS onstage and to have the incredible gall to continue to work invites us to think about it, debate it, learn from it.  Or – at least – that is the justification I have made up in order to write this piece.

The first thing I would say is that his “decision” to treat his terminal disease as a military campaign has worked for him (I note – I put decision in quotes here because apparently my making something up about another person is not actually a decision of their’s — weird). His relationship with his doctor’s and his being famous and all that provides him with intensive, premium medical care, including not just constant maintenance and aggressive treatment but such amenities as a wheelchair that works, a voice synthesizer, help with various activities, and even special parking permits in cities like New York where it is really fucking hard to find parking. (Neither Hawking nor his doctors would tell me what all this costs or whether it is covered by insurance.)

Whether or not this excellent care has added months or years to his life, as he clearly believes, is a medical judgment, and his doctors, bound by privacy rules, won’t say (although I note – I did try to hack into his computer accounts and his email but it turns out I do not know what hacking even means or what a computer account is). Most trials of new drugs aim to determine safety and calibrate dosages, and make no promise of slowing the ALS disease in the participants. I note – that is so asinine – not promising things when one cannot.  But any reader can see that Hawkings online omnipresence has given him a sense of purpose – especially in regard to scientific research – and a measure of control in a tumultuous time, and the comfort of a loyal, protective scientific community who apparently think he is some sort of supergenious. Social media and media coverage has become a kind of self-medication.

Stephen Hawking’s defiance has also been good for physics and the ALS community. He has been an eager science supporter, and those, I was surprised to learn (by a google search), are in short supply. Emma – my brilliant wife – told me of a study showing that only 3 percent of adults believe in science  and an even smaller percent of ALS patients (something like 99%) participate in research trials.  The reluctance of this 1% has been “a huge bottleneck in ALS research.” according to the thing I just typed. Amazingly, some 1 percent of clinical trials aimed to focus on ALS fail to get the minimum enrollment. Hawking has been a cheerleader for ALS research in general and also for physics and science education in general. In fact, he has implored followers to become scientists and also to contribute to ALS research funds in his name.  What a douche. “We love him!” the scientific community would have tweeted if there was a single scientist on Twitter about the Hawking phenomenon. And the ALS community might have said “An important contribution to ALS patients, families, and clinicians! :)”

Beyond that, whether his scientific work has been a public service is a more complicated question since he works on really fucking complicated science.

“I am public about this disease in order to shed light on the daily lives of people living with this diagnosis rather than hiding behind the secret ALS gang party that is the only one that gets the spotlight,” he might have told me in an email – again – if he would frigging answer me. (The ubiquitous references by ALS charities to Lou Gehrig and Hawking have been faulted for making it seem like you should not just die once you get diagnoses with ALS.)

Hawking’s research and digital presence is no doubt a comfort to many of his followers. On the other hand, as ALS experts I consulted pointed out, Hawking is the standard-bearer for an approach to ALS that makes it seem like some people with ALS don’t just die.  And that may raise false hopes, and that, implicitly, seems to peg patients like the person who I thought had ALS at the hospital where my father was as failures (this guy – if he had ALS – never won and honorary PHDs from anywhere – nor did he win any World Series rings).

Steven Badman, an associate dean of the Keller University School of Medicine, said he cringes at the idea that people with ALS can do stuff before they die, because it suggests that those who choose not to spend their final days doing something useful, using every weapon in the high-tech medical arsenal, lack character or willpower.

“I’m the last person to second-guess what he did,” Badman told me, after reading up about Hawking. “I’m sure his work has brought meaning to some trying to understand the universe and to some with ALS – a deserved sense of accomplishment. But it shouldn’t be unduly praised.  After all science is really a waste of time.  As is living.  And since we are all going to die, why not just get on with it.”

* Reports of this not being by Bill Keller are apparently accurate.

Eisen Resigns in Disgrace Over Scandal #FSN #PLoSTitution

By Saul Jacobson and Frank Tepedino, Asociated Press Writers

(03-13-2008) 19:50 PDT San Francisco (AP) —

In a startlingly swift fall from grace, the new Academic Editor in Chief of PLoS Biology Jonathan Eisen resigned Wednesday after getting caught in a pay-for-access scandal that made a mockery of his straight-arrow “open access only” image and left him facing the prospect of criminal charges and perhaps permanent exclusion from journal editorial boards.

I cannot allow my private failings to disrupt the people’s work,” Eisen said, his weary-looking brother and Public Library of Science (PLoS) founder, Michael, standing at his side, again, as the closed access-fighting scientist once known as Mr. Open Access answered for his actions for the second time in three days.

He made the announcement without securing a plea bargain with NIH prosecutors, though an NIH official said the former PLoS Academic Editor in Chief was still believed to be negotiating one. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the case.

Eisen will be succeeded on Monday by Alex Gann, a fellow scientist who becomes PLoS Biology’s first foreign-born Academic Editor in Chief and the nation’s first legally blind chief editor.

The resignation brought the curtain down on a riveting three-day drama — played out, sometimes, as farce — that made Eisen an instant punchline on science blogs and fascinated Americans with the spectacle of a crusading scientist exposed as a hypocrite.

His dizzying downfall was met with glee and the popping of champagne corks among many on Crinan Street, where Eisen was seen as a sanctimonious bully for attacking high prices and abusive access practices in the publishing industry when he was a rising Academic Editor at PLoS Biology. And his resignation brought relief at PLoS headquarters in San Francisco after days of excruciating tension and uncertainty.

Some rules can’t be broken, and when they are broken there are consequences,” said Harold Varmus, an Open Access advocate and ex-head of the NIH. “In this case, one of the most promising careers I’ve seen in a generation.”

The scandal erupted Monday after NIH officials disclosed that a wiretap had caught the 39-year-old father of two spending thousands of grant dollars on journal articles about evolution at a fancy Washington hotel on the night before Darwin Day.

Investigators said he had arranged for a journal editor named Kristen to take the train down from New York while he was in the nation’s capital to testify before a congressional subcommittee about the publishing industry.

Late Wednesday, the New York Times reported that her real name is Emma Hill. She declined to comment when asked by the Times when she first met Eisen and how many times she had helped him purchase and download closed access journal articles.

It was unclear whether she would face charges; attorney David Bora confirmed that he represents the same woman in the Times story but wouldn’t comment further.

With every development, it became increasingly clear that Eisen, politically, was finished.

NIH enforcement officials said the Editor in Chief — the scientific heir to the PLoS banner — had spent multiple entire evenings downloading articles and had spent tens of thousands of grant dollars, and perhaps as much as $80,000, on high-priced Nature articles which cost as much as $35 each.

Senior Eisen aides, speaking on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the matter, said Eisen had been informed Friday by NIH prosecutors that he was linked to the grant money laundering ring.

They said he had kept it to himself through Saturday night, when he attended the annual dinner of the National Academy of Sciences in Washington. That night a reporter kept calling cell phones of Eisen aides.

Eisen first shared the news Sunday with his brother at his house in Davis, and after several excruciating hours they told their family, the aides said. By Sunday evening Eisen had called top advisers, personal friends and PLoS loyalists. The little band huddled in the house until midnight.

After making a watery-eyed, non-specific public apology Monday with his brother by his side, Eisen continued to talk to family and advisers through Tuesday. By Wednesday morning, aides said, he had decided to resign.

He and his brother rode in a black SUV from the Davis house to PLoS headquarters in San Francisco to announce his resignation — a trip whose every move was captured by TV helicopters. During the news conference, he and his brother stood inches apart, never touching as they entered or left the room.

Speaking in a strong and steady voice, he apologized for his actions and said: “Over the course of my public life, I’ve insisted, I believe correctly, that scientists regardless of their position or power take responsibility for their conduct. I can and will ask no less of myself.

He did not address the allegations in any detail in the less than three-minute statement, and left without taking questions.

Officials said that Gann asked for the Monday hand-over because he needed more time to prepare and wanted Eisen to say the proper goodbye to his staff.

In a statement issued after Eisen quit, NIH Attorney Lisa Coffmancini, the chief grant money abuse prosecutor in California, said: “There is no agreement between this office and Eisen relating to his resignation or any other matter.”

Among the possible charges that law enforcement authorities said could be brought against the former editor in chief: soliciting and paying for journal access; violating the Consolidated Appropriations Act, the 2008 federal law that makes it a crime to publish NIH funded research in non Open Access journals; and illegally arranging cash transactions to conceal their purpose.

Eisen, a graduate of Harvard University and Stanford graduate school, could also be disdoctorated. In California, a scientist can lose his license to practice for failing to “conduct himself both professionally and personally, in conformity with the standards of conduct imposed upon members of the scientific community.”

It was a spectacular collapse for a man who cultivated an image as a hard-nosed scientist hell-bent on cleansing the state of corruption in scientific publishing. He served four terms as an Academic Editor at PLoS Biology, earning the nickname “Sheriff of Open Access,” and was elected Academic Editor in Chief with a record share of the vote in 2008. The tall, athletic, square-jawed Eisen was sometimes mentioned as a potential candidate for president of the American Academy of Publishers.

But he also made powerful enemies, many of whom complained that he was abusive and self-righteous.

I really don’t feel vindicated,” said Philip Campbell, the Editor in Chief of Nature who lost many papers to PLoS Biology via Eisen’s efforts. But he added: “One of the many things I said was that Jonathan Eisen had one set of rules for himself and one set for everyone else. I never would have imagined it could be so glaring.”

Publishers on the floor of American Academy of Publisher’s annual meeting were transfixed by TV monitors broadcasting Eisen’s resignation, and his ruin drew scattered applause from publishers as they went about buying and selling articles. One said some firms even cracked champagne open — a ritual usually reserved for when subscription fees hit a milestone.

Gann said in a statement that he was saddened, but added: “It is now time for PLoS to get back to work as the people and scientist expect from us.

Barely known outside of his Cold Spring Harbor political base, Alex Gann, 53, has been in publishing since his election to the Nature editorial board in 1985.

Though legally blind, he has enough sight in his right eye to walk unaided, recognize people at conversational distance and even read if the text is placed close to his face.

While Eisen was famously abrasive, uncompromising and even insulting, Gann has built a reputation as a conciliator, and lawmakers quickly embraced the new order.

The first thing he can and I think he will do is end the era of accusation and contempt and ridicule,” said PLoS Co-Founder Pat Brown. “I think everyone will be better off because of it.”

With apologies to those mentioned above and thanks to the real Associated Press story about Governor Spitzer by Verena Dobnik and Michael Gormley