“Send Silence Packing” at University of Michigan

Send Silence Packing #SendSilencePacking

Yesterday, I was walking towards the Diag at the heart of the University of Michigan’s Ann Arbor campus. I noticed some chalk drawings on the sidewalk, and took pictures. I noticed some carving on a treetrunk and took pictures.

And then I noticed all the backpacks. Everywhere. And all the students standing, bending, crouching to look at the backpacks more closely. I stopped. I bent over. I read the stories. Each backpack represents one person who died of suicide. Most of the backpacks have their story attached to it, with farewells from grieving loved ones. Some are the actual backpack the person used in their own student experience.

I walked around the collection of backpacks slowly. I snapped photos. I finished looking at one section of the backpacks and thought, WOW. Then I started walking again. And then I stopped again. Because it wasn’t just one section. The backpacks were everywhere. I kept looking, and watching, and taking pics, but did not even try to get pictures of ALL of the backpacks.

As I finally straightened up and was about to leave, I heard a woman’s voice behind me, saying "Hurry up. I don’t want to see this. I know, it’s probably a fact of life, but … " It was a woman who is probably my age, certainly past student age, but dressed like a student in tight leggings and a tshirt, with the arms of a light sweater tied around her shoulders. She and her companion sped up, almost sprinting past the display, her dyed-blonde ponytail bouncing in the sunlight of the beautiful day.

Read more from the Michigan Daily:

From the Arxiv (What Caught My Eye Last Week)

Quantifying the impact of weak, strong, and super ties in scientific careers
Alexander Michael Petersen
PDF: http://arxiv.org/pdf/1509.01804v1.pdf
Soundbite: “We find that super ties contribute to above-average productivity and a 17% citation increase per publication, thus identifying these partnerships – the analog of life partners – as a major factor in science career development.”

Do we need another coffee house? The amenity space and the evolution of neighborhoods
César A. Hidalgo, Elisa E. Castañer
PDF: http://arxiv.org/pdf/1509.02868v1.pdf
Soundbite: “Neighborhoods populated by amenities, such as restaurants, cafes, and libraries, are considered to be a key property of desirable cities. … Finally, we use the Amenity Space to build a recommender system that identifies the amenities that are missing in a neighborhood given its current pattern of specialization.”

Liberating language research from dogmas of the 20th century
Ramon Ferrer-i-Cancho, Carlos Gómez-Rodríguez
PDF: http://arxiv.org/pdf/1509.03295v1.pdf
Soundbite: ” Those tenets can be summarized as a belief in the existence of word order constraints that cannot be explained by evolutionary processes or requirements of performance or learning, and instead require either (a) heavy assumptions that compromise the parsimony of linguistic theory as a whole or (b) explanations based on internal constraints of obscure nature.”
Interesting: “We submitted our commentary to PNAS but it was rejected. We hope that the availability of our submission helps to liberate language research from dogmas of the 20th century”

Estimating Reproducibility in Genome-Wide Association Studies
Wei Jiang, Jing-Hao Xue, Weichuan Yu
PDF: http://arxiv.org/pdf/1508.06715v1.pdf
Soundbite: “This can be used to generate a list of potentially true associations in the irreproducible findings for further scrutiny.”

Nucleosome positioning: resources and tools online
Vladimir B. Teif
PDF: http://arxiv.org/pdf/1508.06916v4.pdf
About: Gene Regulation Info
Includes: Nucleosome positioning datasets sorted by cell type

Combining exome and gene expression datasets in one graphical model of disease to empower the discovery of disease mechanisms
Aziz M. Mezlini, Fabio Fuligni, Adam Shlien, Anna Goldenberg
PDF: http://arxiv.org/pdf/1508.07527v1.pdf
Soundbite: “It is not unusual to observe a significant gene expression change in thousands of genes, the majority being a downstream, rather than the driver, effect (e.g. inflammation, drug response, etc) Additionally, and more importantly, there is a large heterogeneity in gene expression in cancer: many patients within the same subtype will appear to have an abberant expression. These variations are of unknown cause.”

Using Genetic Distance to Infer the Accuracy of Genomic Prediction
Marco Scutari, Ian Mackay, David Balding
PDF: http://arxiv.org/pdf/1509.00415v2.pdf
Soundbite: ” In human genetics, decay curves could be used study to what extent predictions are accurate and thus to improve the performance of medical diagnostics for the general population. In plant and animal breeding, on the other hand, it is common to incorporate distantly related individuals in selection programs to maintain a sufficient level of genetic variability.”

Population genomics of intrapatient HIV-1 evolution
Fabio Zanini, Johanna Brodin, Lina Thebo, Christa Lanz, Göran Bratt, Jan Albert, Richard A. Neher
PDF: http://arxiv.org/pdf/1509.02483v1.pdf
Soundbite: “In most patients, the virus populations was initially homogeneous and diversified over the years, as expected for an infection with a single or small number of similar founder viruses (Keele et al., 2008). In two patients, p3 and p10, the first sample displayed diversity consistent with the transmission of several variants from the same donor.”
Soundbite: “Our reasoning proceeds as follows. Figure 6B indicates that diversity accumulates over a time frame of 2-4 years, i.e., about 1,000 days. Recombination at a rate of 10−5/bp/day hits a genome on average every 100 bps in 1000 days. Mutations further apart than 100bps are hence often separated by recombination and retain little linkage consistent with the observed decay length in Figure 7.”

Inadequate experimental methods and erroneous epilepsy diagnostic criteria result in confounding acquired focal epilepsy with genetic absence epilepsy
Raimondo D’Ambrosio, Clifford L. Eastman, John W. Miller
PDF: http://arxiv.org/pdf/1509.01206v1.pdf
Soundbite: “Because the authors could not induce focal seizures by FPI, they ended up comparing absence epilepsy in their controls with absence epilepsy in FPI rats, and concluded that they look similar. They also used inappropriate epilepsy diagnostic criteria that cannot distinguish between focal non-convulsive seizures and genetic absence epilepsy. Moreover, the authors failed to consider all literature conflicting with their conclusion, and surmised similarities between the absence epilepsy in their rats with the focal seizures we induce by rpFPI.”

Reduction of Alzheimer’s disease beta-amyloid pathology in the absence of gut microbiota
T. Harach, N. Marungruang, N. Dutilleul, V. Cheatham, K. D. Mc Coy, J. J. Neher, M. Jucker, F. Fåk, T., Lasser, T. Bolmont
PDF: http://arxiv.org/pdf/1509.02273v1.pdf
Soundbite: “Our results indicate a microbial involvement in the development of Alzheimer’s disease pathology, and suggest that microbiota may contribute to the development of neurodegenerative diseases.”

Fractal Fluctuations in Human Walking: Comparison of Auditory and Visually Guided Stepping
Philippe Terrier
PDF: http://arxiv.org/pdf/1509.01913v1.pdf
Soundbite: “[B]ecause it can be assumed that AC and VC mobilize the same motor pathways, they can probably be used alternatively in gait rehabilitation. The efficiency of VC to enhance walking abilities in patients with neurological gait disorders needs further studies. However, the high gait variability induced by VC might have detrimental effects, for instance, a lower dynamic balance. This should be taken into account in the development of VC rehabilitation methods.”

The Brain Uses Reliability of Stimulus Information when Making Perceptual Decisions
Sebastian Bitzer, Stefan J. Kiebel
PDF: http://arxiv.org/pdf/1509.01972v1.pdf
Soundbite: “Our analysis suggests that the brain estimates the reliability of the stimulus on a short time scale of at most a few hundred milliseconds.”

Brain Model of Information Based Exchange
James Kozloski
PDF: http://arxiv.org/pdf/1509.02580v1.pdf
Coolness: IBM Neural Tissue Simulator (about NTS | NTS slides | 1st article)

Interplay between the local information based behavioral responses and the epidemic spreading in complex networks
Can Liu, Jia-Rong Xie, Han-Shuang Chen, Hai-Feng Zhang, Ming Tang
PDF: http://arxiv.org/pdf/1509.01321v1.pdf
Soundbite: “The spreading of an infectious disease can trigger human behavior responses to the disease, which in turn plays a crucial role on the spreading of epidemic…. Our finding indicates that, with the increasing of the response rate, the epidemic threshold is enhanced and the prevalence of epidemic is reduced.”

Identification and modeling of discoverers in online social systems
Matus Medo, Manuel S. Mariani, An Zeng, Yi-Cheng Zhang
PDF: http://arxiv.org/pdf/1509.01477v1.pdf
Soundbite: “We develop an analytical time-aware framework which shows that when individuals make choices — which item to buy, for example — in online social systems, a small fraction of them is consistently successful in discovering popular items long before they actually become popular. We argue that these users, whom we refer to as discoverers, are fundamentally different from the previously known opinion leaders, influentials, and innovators.”

Time-aware Analysis and Ranking of Lurkers in Social Networks
Andrea Tagarelli, Roberto Interdonato
PDF: http://arxiv.org/pdf/1509.02030v1.pdf
Soundbite: “Our goal in this work is to push forward research in lurker mining in a twofold manner: (i) to provide an in-depth analysis of temporal aspects that aims to unveil the behavior of lurkers and their relations with other users, and (ii) to enhance existing methods for ranking lurkers by integrating different time-aware properties concerning information-production and information-consumption actions.”

Since Katrina, Part Two: How Has Information Access Changed?

Sign: Closed Due to Hurricane Katrina

I mentioned yesterday that Hurricane Katrina changed my life in many ways. Well, my last name might be Swedish, but I’ve never really self-identified as Swedish. My cultural identity has come more from my mother’s side of the family, the Cajun side.

So when Katrina hit, I was riveted; when New Orleans was so damaged I was bereft. I couldn’t find out how the relatives were from the area (they were fine, but I didn’t know). I watched the newscasts almost constantly, for days, until I would shake while watching, couldn’t take it any longer, and felt ashamed that I couldn’t bear to watch. I did what I could from here. I donated money. I helped advertise and promote other Katrina response and recovery fundraising events. That was how I first became part of the A2B3 group which has been so influential in my keeping current about tech trends and tips around the local community and which has informed so many blogposts here. While I’ve been supporting persons with disabilities for most of my career, somehow I hadn’t completely mentally translated that over to the problems they face as individuals and communities in disaster and crisis response, so this (and 9/11) triggered a richer engagement in disaster and crisis preparation and planning, which is also heavily reflected in this blog. And that led to my interest in the SMEM and SMEMchat communities (SMEM = Social Media Emergency Management).

There was one story in particular which I remember vividly from those days which turned into a personal mission. The way I remember it is a little different from how it really happened, but both make good stories. First, the way I tell the story. Even though this isn’t the way it really happened, it could have been.

There was a library school student who was volunteering in the hurricane shelters. I always imagined this being something that happened in the Superdome. Among the evacuees who were not allowed to leave the shelters was a doctor. He was trying to help the other evacuees, but his phone (with his core clinical references) had died, battery had run out of power, and there was no way to recharge it. There were so many people he could help better if he just had a few key resources, but with the libraries under water, loss of power, and being in the shelter, he was dependent on what he remembered. Now, you have to keep in mind, this was two years before the Kindle e-book readers were available, the phones couldn’t hold much, and the batteries were even worse than they are now. What he needed was print, and how on earth was that going to happen?

The student was smart (after all, she WAS a library school student!), and had initiative, so she went and tracked down a listserv for medical librarians, and sent the doctor’s plea for books out to the list. Medical librarians all over the country grabbed books from their weeding piles, and hopped on Amazon to place special rush orders, and had them shipped to … the Dome, of course, right? Mail was delayed (duh). The books finally arrived the day the Superdome was evacuated, and never made it to the doctor. No one knows what actually happened to all those books.

Heartbreaking. Criminal! There has to be a BETTER WAY!! I’ve spent a lot, and I mean A LOT of time brainstorming better ways. I have a vision, a plan in mind, but that’s an entirely different post.

OK, now, what REALLY happened (yeah, I have a vivid imagination). [PS – I’ve been trying to verify this story for a decade, unsuccessfully, and JUST TODAY found the original email to prove it happened.]

Adelaide M. Fletcher: I am an LSU-SLIS student volunteering at a Red Cross Shelter and today I asked one of the Docs there if he needed any reference books. His face lit up and he told me he could really use the Merck Manual and any of the Washington Manuals for Medicine, Pediatrics or Surgery.

I’m sure the situation is similar for other shelters in the Baton Rouge area (there are several), and I would like to collect any of these books and distribute them if possible. If you have any (slightly out of date is okay) or know any medical librarians who would be willing to donate one, please send them to me and I will deliver them to shelters. I can’t speak for shelters outside of the Baton Rouge area, but if I get too many, I’ll try to pass them on through the Red Cross.[Source: MEDLIB-L September 2, 2005]

Adelaide gave her own personal address. People volunteered to send answers to reference questions and look things up. Concern was expressed that mail would be blocked, but then it was verified that her address was in the unscathed zone. The librarians contacted publishers and vendors suggesting they make donations. The books were presumably shipped there, and it is assumed that Adelaide distributed them across multiple shelters. No one ever mentioned the Superdome. No one verified Adelaide’s identity, they just trusted she was who she said she was. As it turns out, she got her MLIS, ended up working in medical libraries, and spent several years continuing the good work she began with this email, working on library recovery from Katrina. From there, she has done a lot of tech geekery in medical libraries, and from there working on community building projects (especially with tech). I already knew she was my kind of person. :) And this sure sounds like a happy ending to that part of the story.

But, what about the information resources? Those books and resources the doc wanted and couldn’t get his hands on? What he was asking for was basically textbooks.

The Merck Manual is now online free to the public from the publisher. Even if he had no phone or battery or computer, if anyone else did, they could look things up or call someone who could.

Merck Manual: http://www.merckmanuals.com/professional

The Washington Manuals are trickier. The Washington Manual of Medical Therapeutics is available online and also as an app for your phone. There is a “free” version for the phone which evidently is fairly limited, and then tries to sell you the full version for a goodly chunk of change.

Washington Manual of Medical Therapeutics with Unbound MEDLINE/PubMed (Free) https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/washington-manual-medical/id533185430?mt=8
Top in-app purchases:
The Washington Manual of Medical Therapeutics, 34th Edition ($74.99) https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/washington-manual-medical/id853052080?mt=8

There is also a copy in the Internet Archive which has over 10,000 views, although I’m not entirely certain that it is a legal or legitimate copy. Indeed, I suspect it isn’t. If that link goes dead, then you’ll know it wasn’t, eh? The official legal copy is this from Lippincott Williams and Wilkins which is available in print and online combined for the same price as the app.

Washington Manual of Medical Therapeutics https://www.lww.com/Product/9781451188516

Textbooks are absolutely critical in medical response to disaster and crisis. I’m glad to see that the ones he wanted are now more accessible, even if there still are barriers to access. I’m also glad to see that there are many MORE medical textbooks available online and as apps (I just wish there were more free ones for those times we really need them). Here are a few more (iOS) examples.

The 5-Minute Clinical Consult 2016
Anatomy and Physiology Made Incredibly Easy
CDC Health Information for International Travel 2014 – The Yellow Book
Davis’ Drug Guide
Infectious Disease Compendium, A Persiflager’s Guide
Lange CURRENT Practice Guidelines in Primary Care 2014
mobilePDR (Physicians’ Drug Reference)
Mosby’s Dental Drug Reference
Mosby’s Drug Reference
Oxford Handbook of Clinical Medicine
Taber’s Medical Dictionary
Tarascon Primary Care

There are a lot more, too. You could easily spend hundreds or thousands of dollars stuffing medical textbook apps into your phone or tablet. And the money is a barrier to having them widely available at the point of need when the need strikes. And these assume that the person reading them is a healthcare provider or student. Sometimes, in disasters, that isn’t the case. When that happens you need high quality accurate information that is right there. Ideally, it would be either something already installed or available where you can find it, or easy to get. I’ve been thinking Kindle’s have way better battery life than most phones, so when my mom died and I inherited her Kindle, I stuffed the extra one chock full of free info that I thought would be good for situations like Katrina. I also bought a solar charger and back up battery and cables. Yeah, call me paranoid, but I want info ready to hand.

But what about alternatives to textbooks, like, oh, I don’t know, journals and articles? “The percentage of open access (OA) articles published in biomedicine in 2005 was 27%,” said Matsubayashi et al in their article, Status of Open Access in the Biomedical Field in 2005. In 2012, that percentage was over half of all newly published articles, per Laakso & Björk. That was articles. The number of open access journal titles in 2005 was 1,988, according to Heather Morrison, who tracks these things and makes both her findings and her data open access as well. By 2013, there were 8,817.

Here are some more resources that weren’t available ten years ago but which we have now. If you can’t afford the medical textbooks, then first aid manuals are a great idea. And when you are thinking about what info you need to respond to trauma, military medical manuals could be a great boon. And we have them now. Most of them aren’t useful for the public, but look for the ones on survival techniques and medical topics.

Internet Archive: US Military Manual Collection https://archive.org/details/military-manuals?&sort=-downloads&page=2

For the most important and useful titles, people have put them in a variety of places online. This way if one goes down, there is a backup.

Special Forces Medical Handbook (2001): http://www.nh-tems.com/documents/Manuals/SOF_Medical_Handbook.pdf

Medical Field Manual (1942): http://www.ibiblio.org/hyperwar/USA/ref/FM/PDFs/FM8-5.pdf

Army First Aid Manual (2002): http://armypubs.army.mil/doctrine/DR_pubs/dr_a/pdf/fm4_25x11.pdf

The Army has made available free PDFs of a lot more of their medical manuals. A lot. Like over 50 other medical titles, everything from training to prevention to evacuation, with specialty manuals for dental, veterinary, radiology, and how to handle casualties, stress management. and much more.

U.S. Army: Doctrine and Training Publications, 8_Series_Collection (Medical): http://armypubs.army.mil/doctrine/8_Series_Collection_1.html

So, our information environment isn’t quite “there” yet, but you know, it is a lot better than it was ten years ago, and it is headed in the right direction.

Since Katrina, Part One: #SinceKatrina, #Katrina10, #Katrina10Years

Katrina Memorial

It’s been 10 years since Hurricane Katrina. Hurricane Katrina changed my life, in many ways. I want to talk about health information challenges then and now, how the information landscape has changed, but that will come in Part Two. For today’s post, I want to honor many of the other voices and conversations around this anniversary. The hashtags collecting these are:


People are telling the stories of what happened then, remembering, grieving, sharing anger and hurt that has barely faded. Others are analyzing again what went wrong. A few are celebrating survival and growth. Many are looking to the lessons learned and what must happen to prevent this happening again. There are many worthy stories, opinions, ideas, and ideals here. I’ve selected just a few.







Researchpalooza 2015!

Researchpalooza 2015Researchpalooza 2015 at a Glance

Researchpalooza! A place for the bold! The bright! The blue!

Researchpalooza is a big festival for people all around the University of Michigan campuses who are engaged with, supportive of, or otherwise a part of life sciences research. From the service side to the production side, people come out, play games and eat ice cream, and talk about the services they provide and the discoveries they’ve supported. They talk about resources, people, and places. They make new connections and foster new collaborations. People discover opportunities they weren’t aware of, get excited, and share their own passions. Basically, this is a pretty awesome event. I took a lot of pictures, and collected pictures and tweets into a portrait of the event. You can explore below, or go directly to the Researchpalooza 2015 Storify and find more.

Gartner’s New Emerging Technologies Hype Cycle is Out! (And It’s More Surprising than Usual)

The newest Gartner Emerging Technologies Hype Cycle came out two days ago.

Gartner’s 2015 Hype Cycle for Emerging Technologies Identifies the Computing Innovations That Organizations Should Monitor: 2015 Hype Cycle Special Report Illustrates the Market Excitement, Maturity and Benefit of More Than 2,000 Technologies http://www.gartner.com/newsroom/id/3114217

I’ve been puzzling over it ever since. I’ve been tracking the Hype Cycle as long as I’ve been working in emerging tech. It’s kind of required. This one was immediately and visibly different from others.

Gartner Hype Cycles Over Time

Do you see what I see? The long tail on the right (“Slope of Enlightenment” and “Plateau of Productivity”) for 2015 is FAR more sparse and empty than the others. Concepts like “speech recognition” and “consumer telematics” are gone. Are they considered mature now? I’m not sure. Things that were in the trough last year and should have theoretically been climbing out this year (like “mobile health monitoring” and “near field communication”) are also gone. A lot of very interesting topics are now missing from the report, but are still not quite ready for prime time.

There is a video on the main Hype Cycle page that hints at a bit of the why.

Hype Cycles 2015: “VP Distinguished Analyst Betsy Burton talks about this year’s Hype Cycle Special Report.” http://www.gartner.com/technology/research/hype-cycles/

Betsy Burton explains that Big Data is gone as a hype cycle report because the concept is in so many places they decided to fold it in to each of those other reports. It’s gone as a dot on the main curve also. Is it no longer relevant to the hype cycle? Far from it. But you have to dig deeper to understand.

“But it’s really important that people DON’T consider a position on the Hype Cycle — in other words, moving towards the peak, or even moving towards the trough — as an indication of maturity. It’s really an expression of what we’re hearing as industry noise.” Betsy Burton on the 2015 Gartner Hype Cycles.

They’ve expanded the way the hype cycle reports give information. It isn’t just about the hype anymore, but each report includes information on the specific technologies, their benefits, their maturity, and how well adapted they are to their market. Does it work? Does it work well? Are people using it? Is it ready? These are considered distinct and separate concepts from reporting about the “hype,” the industry conversations and reporting around any specific tech. She mentioned that the technologies are changing VERY rapidly. True, but does that mean that they are leapfrogging from the trough of disillusionment directly into full production for primetime consumption within a year? That seems unlikely.

The three main categories she mentioned as leading clusters are Bio, Smart, and People-Centric.

BIO = biotech; biochips; bioprinting; human augmentation
SMART = smart advisors; smart cities; smart dust (missing from this year’s list); smart government; smart grid; smart machines; smart robots; connected home; wearable devices in smart government
PEOPLE-CENTRIC = people centric experiences; citizen developer; citizen experience; corporate social responsibility; digital workplace; virtual care

Readers of this blog already heard about DARPAbit (“Biology IS Technology”), so bio is no surprise here. Smart tech we’ve been hearing about for several years. The “People-Centric” is what interested me the most. There was another Gartner piece earlier this year that clarifies this: “Smart Agents Will Drive the Switch From Technology-Literate People, to People-Literate Technology.” They also have another separate hype cycle report on consumer engagement with healthcare and wellness (what most of my friends call the “e-patient movement”).

I’m seeing a great many connections in the new ETech Hype Cycle and healthcare, as well as with libraries. Could we make libraries more “literate” about our patrons? Take a look at the curve at the opening of this post. Anything you’d like me to explore more?

Plain Language Summaries for Translation in Science

First posted at the Krafty Librarian blog.


At MLA last May, I was walking around the vendor hall, like most of us who attended, I assume. I was on a mission, though. I stopped by every vendor table that had anything to do with publishing or translational science, and talked with them at length about the idea of having plain language abstracts. I’ve been a fan of plain language initiatives for a long time, as evidenced by our library’s Plain Language Medical Dictionary app from some years ago. I wish I could say that I was doing this as a direct result of the PNAS article on the topic published in March, but no such luck. That would have helped make my arguments more compelling, I’m sure. I found the article today, thanks to the National Science Communication Institute retweeting Len Fisher.

A circuitous route, but effective enough to reach me. The article in question was this.

Lauren M. Kuehne and Julian D. Olden. Opinion: Lay summaries needed to enhance science communication. PNAS 112(12):3585–3586. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1500882112 http://www.pnas.org/content/112/12/3585

The article was short and sweet. It talked briefly (very briefly) about alternative modes of science communication, such as social media and blogs, and how they impact on audience, understanding, and adoption of new ideas. The authors then pointed out that these are limited to the few who choose to follow that channel, and it misses the benefits and affordances of mass media channels, a concept which they illustrated with a diagram of how they perceived the connections between the information channels and the audiences. Here’s the gist of it.

Scientists communicate with the public through these channels:
1) Social media and press releases
2) Journalist contacts
3) Lay abstracts
4) Traditional abstracts

The potential audiences are:
1) Public
2) Managers and decisionmakers
3) Scientists in other fields
4) Scientists in your own field

So far so good? There are obviously many more potential audiences as you subdivide these. In my conversations I was rather fond of mentioning insurance companies and agents as critical links in the chain of adopting healthcare innovations who are perhaps more likely to benefit from a plain language abstract. I also talked about the importance of highly motivated patients who take new articles to their clinicians as a recent and influential loop in the information chain that changes practice. For benefits to come through these channels requires not simply that there be a version of the abstract that is in plain language (a lay summary) but also, and equally important, that those lay summaries not be behind a paywall. One of the publishers was absolutely sure their abstracts were not being a paywall, and then when they went to show me, well (ahem), they found they were. As in, the abstracts were locked behind a paywall. Oops.

The most important part of the article’s diagram was the very subtle sideways dashes. Where do the journalists get the hook, the info that leads them to ask more questions and write those mass media articles that reach such large audiences? What triggers the journalist to reach out for those important conversations with the scientists? Well, the press releases, of course. That’s why our organizations work so hard on them. Seeing something posted and reposted on social media is another good way to reach them. But the traditional abstract? Not so much. The traditional abstract is crafted explicitly for other scientists in your field, and only partly for scientists beyond that. Now, a lay summary, a plain language abstract, that has HUGE potential as a way to reach journalists. It’s another marketing tool, beyond being the right thing to do to help patients, or to help get science into the hands of those who actually use it, or to help influence clinical practice and foster more rapid adoption of new discoveries and treatments.