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For Correspondents

Guidelines, Hints (and even a few rules)
for Evolution and Medicine Review Correspondents

[to post an article, go here]

The BIG Picture

What is an EMR Post?

Interacting with others

Technical matters

Agreement between the EMR and Senior Correspondents

The BIG Picture

The Evolution and Medicine Review (EMR) is a scientific “journal”/resource for the community of researchers, clinicians, scholars, and teachers working at the interface of evolutionary biology and medicine. It pioneers a new publishing genre that allows us to collaborate to create a virtual intellectual home that will meet our needs in this rapidly expanding field. With the EMR, we have a remarkable opportunity to establish a different means of science communication, free from the path-dependent constraints that hamstring established organizations.

Our mission is to create a virtual explorers club, where members gather to share reports from distant places. Armchairs, a library, a warm fire, and hot or cold drinks make it comfortable. Vivid reports from carefully chosen Correspondents make it engaging. Careful selection of the Senior Correspondents ensures consistent high quality. A few rules and firm editorial control make it safe place for constructive engagement about ideas and issues that otherwise would never be broached.

The EMR will not publish original research (at least not yet) but, as a Senior Correspondent, you will otherwise have considerable latitude for choosing topics and tone. We also hope you will take part in developing editorial and innovative publishing strategies for the EMR as it evolves. In the meantime, we offer the following guidelines to help set a consistent high level of quality and liveliness.

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What is an EMR Post?

Topics Most ‘posts’ will be 1-3 paragraphs of commentary on an article, book, conference, educational resource, news report, website, or a blog post. A few will be about a new idea, or an issue that has been on your mind. All should be directly relevant to evolution, medicine, and public health. Sometimes the relevance of a topic will not be obvious to others, so your challenge will be to help readers understand why it is important.
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Audience Most readers are researchers, clinicians, students and funders who know a moderate amount about evolution and medicine. The Review is mainly for them, so go ahead and get into technical issues. However, we also want to engage new-comers, so about a quarter of your posts should be accessible to a wider audience. Your posts will be linked to widely, and some will be picked up by the paper press – be prepared to respond. They all have unique URL so they can be cited. If you use jargon, link it to a source such as Wikipedia.
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Tone & Style Informal and accessible, but authoritative and balanced. Jaunty, but sophisticated. Critical but constructive. Witty, but not facile. Charming, but not saccharine. Short sentences, but almost always complete sentences. Find your own voice and style and stick to it (like a good newspaper columnist, your voice will attract a loyal readership). Use your sense of humour (but remember that one man’s wit is another man’s wince). Most posts should provide opinion, yet none should be opinionated.
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Stick to your specialty? Usually, but not always. We have selected correspondents from the diverse disciplines relevant to evolution and medicine. We are counting on them (you) to bring interesting reports from sources that others won’t know about, even your fellow correspondents. However, anything relevant is fair game. Do be sure to know something about it, or are willing to dig to find out. If, for instance, you specialize in psychiatry, you will want to do some reading and check with experts before you publish a rant about biofilms.
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Write about what is good and what is bad? All articles have good and bad points, so try to avoid the all-too-human tendency to praise everything (like e.g. Faculty of 1000), or trash everything about an article. Sharing your final conclusion is, of course, fine but the goal is to explore the idea, not to create a rating. Most articles or resources will be reviewed because they are valuable. However, posting about articles that make serious mistakes can be especially interesting and helpful; such posts will become a useful selection force for quality in the field (and can be cited as such). We especially look forward to comments on otherwise excellent articles in leading medical journals that make elementary mistakes about evolution, or those that neglect important evolutionary aspects of their topic. Likewise, we want naïve medical statements by evolutionary biologists to be challenged. Such posts will provoke leading medical and evolutionary researchers to respond in useful ways and encourage them to read The Evolution and Medicine Review.
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Rigor is essential. Unsupported assertions and wild hypotheses are unwelcome. If you want to say fever is useful, give data and sources. If you say that hunter gatherers don’t get heart disease, find a real source (if you can, the matter is not at all simple). Don’t say that cystic fibrosis protects against cholera, unless you review evidence for and against the hypothesis. Usually you will want to lay out the alternative hypotheses and the evidence for and against each. Our goal is not to whip up enthusiasm for clever ideas, it is to show the world how good ideas can be assessed thoughtfully. In a few paragraphs.
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Can you write about your own work? Yes, on occasion, but not often. You might well want to note uncertainties about your own research, the kind of personal revelations that don’t fit in other media, but that will disarm and interest everyone. Other Senior Correspondents will post about your papers. You will want to read and comment on posts by others. Unknowingly posting on a topic recently covered by someone else will make us all look a bit foolish.
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Events in your lab? Sure, if they are of general interest. No one wants to know that you had to amplify the DNA 10 times before you realized your reagent was bad. But if you want to share an idea or a developing research project, great! Be sure you clear it will other lab members; what you write will be on the web instantly and forever. (See Rosie Redfield’s blog about her labwork as an example.)
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Family, friends, your darling dog, and your dim Dean Post about them in your personal blog, not at the EMR. Well… if your experience in training your dog gives you a deep insight into evolution and human behaviour, or if your Dean suddenly understands why s/he needs to create a basic science Department of Evolution and Medicine, then maybe…but generally no. However, it is fine to begin posts with personal anecdotes…”There I was, eating fugu in Tokyo, wondering just who I was trying to impress by risking my life, when a colleague mentioned a paper on toxin-antitoxin coevolution, just out in PLoS Biology.”
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Provocative topics A remarkable number of people assume that any work at the intersection of evolution and medicine is right wing, racist, sexist or at least deeply anti-human. Others love to argue about creationism or religion. Others just love to argue. There are a hundred other places for people who enjoy such fights. The Evolution and Medicine Review is about science, not politics or religion. Please don’t bring up old debates that don’t go anywhere. If a topic you are writing about could provoke people, say what you need to say in a way that keeps the focus on the science.
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Controversy Do not shy away from scientific controversy, even if it means constructively criticising your EMR colleagues. Be frank about what you think, but provide justification, and always criticise the work rather than a person or a group. Pretend you are having a spirited but respectful debate with another valued member of your lab or Senior Correspondent of the EMR. If you need advice or arbitration, ask the Editor.
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A possible outline for a post

  1. A great title
  2. An anecdote or hook to get readers engaged.
  3. The source, with a web link and/or DOI number
  4. What is the key question, hypothesis, and conclusion?
  5. Why is this interesting?
  6. What is the evidence (or lack of) in support of their conclusions? What are the alternative explanations? What could the authors do to improve the evidence?
  7. How does it fit in with wider evolutionary theory?
  8. Does this open up a research area – is it a ‘good question’?
  9. How is it relevant to medical practice? (if it is)
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Examples of a good post? There is not yet an equivalent science or journal magazine that we can point you to but think about the shorter articles at the front of Nature or Science or The Scientist as a general model, although our posts will be less formal. Good science blogs that are more akin to our aim and are worth reading include those of: Rosie Redfield, Jonathan Eisen, Kent Holsinger or Mike the mad biologist (he uses a pseudonym but some of you may know him). They all write on more general issues as well and may be too informal for our purposes (we can discuss). If you can recommend others, let us know.
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Interacting with others

Responding to comments Anyone can comment on your posts. You are the editor for all comments on your posts. Some comments will be off topic or rants or anonymous. Delete them without further ado and without explanation. Do not engage ID proponents or other cranks (see our Commenting Guidelines). Other comments will criticize your post. Do not delete these! And try not to get riled – we want transparency and debate. Be sure to respond to comments with comments of your own—as comments not as new posts. This will engage the readers and build up the audience.
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Nominating additional Senior Correspondents Nominations are welcome, but we want to avoid a fancy politicized process that would take a lot of time and bruise feelings, so please don’t promise or lobby too hard for anyone. Diversity of topics and perspectives is as important as quality, so many superb people will not be Senior Correspondents. Also, we want to save good people for future inclusion. Future development of the EMR may include Guest Correspondents or Junior Correspondents more formally.
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Guest posts Others may suggest you post on a topic. Sure, good, do it, and be sure to give credit to those who offer good suggestions. A special page is set up for readers to suggest topics and papers that might inspire you. However, do not post material sent by someone else (it will appear in your name). Instead, if you think it is good, forward the post to the Editor for consideration as a guest post.
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Technical matters

Length Short! Aim for two to three paragraphs (about 300 words). Some posts will only be one paragraph. Occasional longer posts, even an occasional long scholarly review of a topic, are welcome, but they should be infrequent.
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Editing You are on your own. No copy editor will save you from embarrassing typos and grammatical errors. You can correct posts, but the RSS Feed with the errors will already be out there. Early on, the Editor will help us all with finding a somewhat consistent tone and with formatting challenges, but that should soon prove unnecessary (and impossible because of lack of editorial time).
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How often to post Ideally, about once a month, so people get your perspective and get to know you. No more than once a week, because the EMR cannot appear to be dominated by just a few authors. Diversity of authors and topics is essential. You can submit more than one post in a week if you are on a roll. You can schedule a post to appear later if you like (or if you are going to be away). On occasion the Editor may schedule posts to appear on a future date.
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When not to post Do not write posts when you are drinking, driving, distracted, depressed, angry, or desperately in love. Wait. What happens on the web, stays on the web. Forever.
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Images Include images wherever possible to make the content more appealing – photos and diagrams can be easily incorporated into your posts. Use small or medium size format. Including figures from closed access journals does not generally infringe copyright as they come under ‘fair use’. Always cite your source and give appropriate attribution.
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Real names only Those who post comments are also required to use real names (see commenting guidelines).
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Passwords Do not share your password under any circumstances, not even with students. Others could post under your name.
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Linking Make links to all external references you cite. These include people, places, labs, departments, publishers, papers, etc. To do this, highlight the text you want to link, click the button that looks like links in a chain, and paste in the URL. You can choose if you want the link to open a new window (usually best) or replace the current window. References are best included as links, but you can list them at the end if you wish.
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Tagging Tags are keywords associated with your post that must be added manually to every post (there is a box provided below each post). If similar tags exist, you will be prompted to use these. The importance of tagging cannot be underestimated. This is the way that readers will find your posts (e.g. if they do a Google or Technorati search). This is the only case where more is more and not less. Try to use tags already established where possible (although these will build up with time).
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Social bookmarking Add papers you discuss to social bookmarking sites such as Connotea (run by Nature), cite-u-like, etc. These sites are being used increasingly by scientists. We want evolution and medicine to be found wherever people look. Use a special tag for these sites – ‘evolution and medicine’ – in addition to the two key words separately (which finds numerous irrelevant papers).
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Copyright

All the original content created for the EMR is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution License. This is stated clearly at the foot of each page of the EMR. This licence permits free distribution and reuse of the work as long as the author is appropriately attributed. This is the same license used by the Public Library of Science and BMC for their journals (license details here and here, respectively). Other publishers, such as Nature or Springer use this for selected articles. For example, genome sequence papers in Nature have the non-commercial equivalent of this licence (see here for details on their policy).

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Writing a post using wordpress

We will work with you in the next month or two to find the easiest ways to get posts submitted and up on the web. It is generally easy, but formatting can be a challenge.

The best way to post is to go to The Evolution and Medicine Review WordPress site, and click “Write” and compose the post in the box provided. There are two tabs on the right hand side of the menu above the box where you write titles Visual and HTML (see figure below)

The visual editor is the easiest to use and allows basic formatting of your text, the HTML tab allows you to write the html code directly (or paste code in from elsewhere). If you don’t know how to do this, it is best to stick to the ‘Visual’editor. Be sure to click on the rightmost button of the visual editor to expand your formatting options (the ‘kitchen sink’).

If you compose in MS Word, you cannot just paste into the box. It makes a terrible mess that cannot be fixed. Instead,

  • Ensure that the “kitchen sink” is visible by clicking on the rightmost button.
    • This opens up a second row of formatting buttons
  • Use the “paste from MS Word” button to past material in. This strips out most of the bloated MS code.

The sequence for posting an article is simple:

  1. Write your post
  2. Add links where needed
  3. Add images when possible (using the ‘Add media’ tabs)
  4. Format You cannot change the font size but you can use bold or italics and you can use various levels of headers and subheaders, generally level 3 and 4
  5. Add tags Tags are keywords associated with your post that you must add in the line provided below where you write your post on WordPress. If similar tags exist, you will be prompted to use these. The importance of tagging cannot be underestimated. This is the way that readers will find your posts (e.g. if they do a Google or technorati search). This is the only case where more is more and not less. Try to use tags already established, where possible (although these will build up with time) .
  6. Add categories Please click at least one box for kind of post and at least one for the general topic. Categories allow readers to find posts of interest quickly. If you wish to add a category, ask the editor.
  7. Press Save, to save a draft, otherwise your work will be lost. or
  8. Press Publish to publish immediately,
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How to cite posts and comments on the EMR

The URL for each post is a Permalink that will always stay the same. Your post will always be available at that URL.

Citing a particular post or comment to a post in an article is straightforward, but certain details must be included. There is no other publication quite like the EMR. However, the format for citing posts offers a template. We have also drawn on the advice from the NLM about this (very detailed information can be found here and e.g. where there are multiple authors go here). In summary, the ideal format of the citation should follow:

Author/Editor (R) | Author Affiliation (O) | Title (R) | Content Type (O) | Type of Medium (R) | Editor and other Secondary Authors (O) | Place of Publication (R) | Publisher (R) | Date of Publication (R) | Date of Citation (R) | Availability (R) | Language (R) | Notes (O)

An example of a citationfor the EMR is:

Pearlman, R (University of Chicago, ). The appendix, appendicitis, and appendectomy, WeView [Internet]; The Evolution and Medicine Review, (2008, June) (cited 2008 June 18) Available from: http://evmedreview.com

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Archiving and Access

  • We back up regularly, in addition to the backups provided by the server company. However, no digital data can be completely secure from hacking.
  • All of your posts have a unique permanent URL, making it easy for others to cite and link to your post.
  • We purchased the highest level of networked servers to ensure access even when a post gets cited in the NY Times (or digg!).

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Agreement between the EMR and Senior Correspondents

  1. Senior Correspondents will submit posts regularly. Monthly or more frequently is ideal and hoped for, but there is no rigid requirement.
  2. Senior Correspondents serve a one year term with the understanding that keeping things lively probably will require rotating writers in and out. However, we will need experience to figure out how best to manage this.
  3. The Editor is pretty reasonable, but her decisions are final. If she decides a post does not fit, she will delete it with a very brief explanation. Please do not be annoyed, it is the price for having a high quality journal. For potential question, always feel free to check with her ahead of time to avoid working on something that might not fit.
  4. Your posts are all open access and in the public domain. The licence we use is the creative commons attribution licence (e.g. the same as the PLoS or BMC journals)
  5. You will not receive any financial gain from your contributions, even if, at some point, The Evolution and Medicine Review is turned over to a Society that finds a way to make it profitable.
    You are responsible for citations and copyright issues in your posts

The Correspondents are The Evolution and Medicine Review. Your suggestions are always most welcome for ways to make it a central resource that meets the needs of those in the evolution and medicine community.
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