Recent Posts

Where the DNA hides... In praise of Jose Rodrigues Coura

  • 20 June 2022
  In the biomedical sciences timeline, 2021 will be marked by two major events: (a) the second year of Covid-19 pandemics and its huge impact on our society; (b) the consolidation of new vaccine technology to deal with emergent infectious agents. For the Brazilian community of researchers in tropical medicine nonetheless, it is also a year that will be remembered as the farewell to José Rodrigues Coura (1927-1921), medical doctor, professor and researcher in human infectious diseases, director of the Instituto Oswaldo Cruz (IOC), vice president of research at Fiocruz, author of hundreds of scientific articles, editor and enthusiastic collaborator…

Published scientific articles should be read nowadays with skepticism, and the preprints even more...

  • 29 November 2021
 The COVID-19 pandemic has affected human activities on a scale never seen before. In the scientific world it has been particularly hard: people involved in the activity of generating new knowledge have been under both huge demand and maximum expectation of proposing solutions to stop the spread of SARS-CoV-2. Under these exceptional circumstances, the research community has sought alternatives for the rapid dissemination of their work. An example of such alternative is the “fast track publication”, which was proposed by WHO during the epidemics caused by the Ebola and Zika viruses in 2015-16 (1). Many funding agencies and journals, including…

Midpoint: the publishing platform as a hybrid between a preprint server and a peer reviewed journal

  • 17 October 2019
Last year, we published a possible scenario for scientific journals, or, as we stressed in that post—our turn to fail miserably in the art of predicting the future (Brandao & Pirmez, 2018). Now it is time for a little incremental change (or adjustment?) to this forecast doomed to fail miserably, which noted a large shift in journal function and operational structure. There is a chance that journals will lose control over both the dissemination of research results and the reviewing process. These scenarios are projected from initiatives which are underway and are giving a new shape to scientific publishing, particularly…

Decentralizing scientific publishing: can the blockchain improve science communication?

  • 16 July 2019
We present a decentralized solution for managing scientific communication based on distributed ledger technologies also called Blockchains.The proposed system aims at solving the incentive problems displayed by traditional systems for scientific communication and publication. A minimal working model is presented defining roles, processes and expected results from the novel system. The proposed solution is viable given the current status of blockchain technology and should lead to a rethink of current practices and their consequences to scientific communication. The current model of scientific publishing is in crisis (De Wit, Altbach, & Leask, 2018; Horton, 2016). Even without looking at the numbers,…

This year, One Hundred and Ten. And counting!

  • 10 March 2019
Memorias do Instituto Oswaldo Cruz was officially created by federal decree 1.802, on December 12, 1907 (click here for the Portuguese version of this decree). Memorias effectively started its life as scientific publishing journal only two years later. This start could not have been better: in the second issue of the journal (August 1909), Dr. Carlos Chagas reported the discovery of a new human trypanosomiasis, including both its infectious agent (the protozoan Trypanosoma cruzi) and the vector (the triatomine bugs). This trypanosomiasis is currently known as Chagas Disease. Because of the breath and impact of this discovery to tropical medicine…

Possible future for editors and scientific journals in an environment of decentralized and instantaneous dissemination of science

  • 29 August 2018
Predicting the consequences of current events in the medium to long term has only one certainty: in the overwhelming majority of cases, the prediction will fail!  That rate of failure is the reason why future studies scholars always caution that the main goal of a future analysis is to delimit "probable and desirable outcomes" of current events under social, demographic and technological aspects of human society. Computers are a good example of how difficult it is to predict future developments from the current standards. If we went back to the computer industry in the 1950s, took its concepts, hardware and…

Open and collaborative review of scientific articles: are we ready for the next step?

  • 21 May 2018
The analysis of scientific articles by peers has changed throughout the centuries, evolving from occasional external opinion in the science journals of the mid-seventeenth century to the lengthy, anonymous and formal peer review procedure of current journals. Until the beginning of the 1970s, prestigious European journals such as Nature did not use the peer review methodology as a requirement for screening manuscripts for publication (Baldwin, 2015). The editor's sole opinion seemed to be much more relevant for deciding the fate of manuscripts than the expert’s comments and critiques. If this is entirely correct, then there was a time when the…

Memorias do Instituto Oswaldo Cruz welcomes the preprints!

  • 30 November 2017
For 350 years, the scientific world has been shaped by a model of publishing research results that has emphasised journals (and their editors) as the unique forum for the accredited source of scientific information. This model was entirely based upon the skills of editors and, more recently, peer reviewers to select, evaluate, edit, and publish the articles describing the most relevant research results. Since the foundation of ‘Journal des Savants’ in 1660 (no longer active) and ‘Philosophical Transactions’ (started in 1665 and still publishing: https://royalsociety.org/journals/publishing-activities/publishing350), scientists have known that the only way to convey information to the community is to…

Brazilian Scientific Journals: challenges, (dis)incentives and one fundamental question

  • 24 July 2017
There are more than a thousand journals that publish research results from all knowledge fields in Brazil. Despite the existence of centennial journals such as “Memorias do Instituto Oswaldo Cruz” and “Anais da Academia Brasileira de Ciencias”, which started publishing in 1907 and 1929, respectively, Brazilian researchers do not consider international journals published here as a source of academic prestige. Following the steady growth of Brazilian science in the last quarter of the 20th century, Brazilian researchers have been engaged in an evaluative and rewarding system that has pushed them to seek out journals deemed as offering more influence and…

The self-regulation of science: what is legitimate and acceptable

  • 20 February 2017
In an ideal world, publishing the results of scientific research might be compared to an algorithm that includes the following steps: a) obtain all the resources needed to finish (timely!) a project for testing a scientific hypothesis;b) write a concise, objective text describing the tested hypothesis, methods, data collection, analysis to reject or support the hypothesis, and conclusions;c) be aware of your responsibility as a scientist, and strictly comply with the ethical statements and good practices of science communication;d) decide whether you will communicate the research results through a science peer meeting, book, or specialised journals;e) choose an appropriate scientific…

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