Thursday, June 04, 2009

Do Conference Bloggers and Tweeters Need to Follow Media Rules?

Science Insider reports that Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory (CSHL) is amending its meetings policy so that participants who plan on blogging and tweeting must also adhere to the rules set for members of the media. The article states that bloggers and tweeters, in addition to the media, will need to notify CSHL ahead of time if they plan to cover the meeting and must receive permission from the speaker or poster author before reporting on what's presented.

The post highlights the case of Daniel MacArthur from the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute in Cambridge, United Kingdom. MacArthur wrote several on the spot blog posts at The Biology of Genomes meeting that covered advances being discussed by the participants. The news service Genomeweb complained.

When should someone feel free to blog or tweet? Andrew Maynard posts some guidelines:

In general: Irrespective of the setting, I tend to ask whether the information being presented is confidential, whether it is sensitive in any way, and whether others would benefit from reading about it on Twitter or 2020science. There has been at least one occasion where I decided not to live-tweet from a public meeting because I thought it would embarrass the speakers unnecessarily. There have been other occasions where I have live tweeted to provide people not at the meeting a sense of what someone is saying, as they say it.

This only applies to formal presentations and public comments. Publicly commenting on private conversations is absolutely out as far as I’m concerned, and I will only write about side conversations the person I’m talking to knows my intentions beforehand.

Invitation-only meetings: Definitely no live tweeting, and no blogging unless express permission is given.

Meetings with clearly stated reporting limitations: Generally, no live tweeting, and abiding by the rules when it comes to blogging.

Expert presentation & discussion of non-peer reviewed data. If the aim of the meeting is to seriously assess and discuss someone’s unpublished research, I would hesitate to live tweet. I might blog - but only if it seemed appropriate given the state and significance of the research.

Open conferences (i.e. anyone who pays can attend) where researchers are reviewing the state of knowledge, presenting published data, or clearly think they are the bees knees and everyone should know it. These I see as fair game for live tweeting and blogging - without the permission of the speaker.

Public meetings, where anyone can attend and there is no entrance fee. Open season as far as tweeting and blogging go.

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