Research Article: Science in the News

Date Published: February 14, 2006

Publisher: Public Library of Science

Author(s): Hemai Parthasarathy

Abstract: Do press embargoes hurt or help the reporting of science news?

Partial Text: An article in
PLoS Biology was downloaded more than 40,000 times in the span of a single November week. It was not a cure for cancer, it was not the discovery of a new link in human evolution. It was a paper entitled “Ultrasonic Songs of Male Mice” by Tim Holy and Zhongsheng Guo, and, as the title aptly indicates, it described the songlike vocalizations of laboratory mice. The unprecedented number of downloads was no doubt driven by the widespread press attention accorded this article. We lost count of the number of outlets that covered the story, but they ranged from such venerable broadsheets as
The Guardian and
The New York Times to postings on The paper’s reviewers and editors were pleased to see it published in
PLoS Biology as an important piece of work in the field, but as the lead author himself commented when inundated by requests for interviews from journalists, “[W]hile I’m proud of the work, it’s certainly a disproportionate amount of attention given how many other interesting things there are in science.”