In her new column, The Care and Feeding of Your Social Media Accounts, Jennifer Regala provides a useful guide for setting up and maintaining a professional social media presence. Her central conceit is that social media accounts are not unlike dogs in that they must be cared for and nurtured. To illustrate her point, Jennifer includes two photos of her dog, Scotty, a certified Good Dog. In her introductory note, she implies I was initially reluctant to support their inclusion. The implication is that I find dogs, and photos of such, to be frivolous and unrelated to the pursuit of scientific editing and publishing.
That is not true. In fact, pets and dogs have quite the connection to the scientific literature and the health benefits of dog ownership are a well-studied area with over 500 articles in the last 10 years according to PubMed. In 2013, the American Heart Association (disclosure: my employer) in their Scientific Statement “Pet Ownership and Cardiovascular Risk” concluded that “pet ownership, particularly dog ownership, is probably associated with decreased CVD risk.” Further research has found that dog owners are more physically active, spend more time outdoors, and are less lonely than non-dog owners.
However, as a promoter of rigorous scientific inquiry, I should note that the science is not entirely conclusive and much debate exists. As an example, in 2019 the AHA journal, Circulation: Cardiovascular Quality and Outcomes, published two articles, a meta-analysis by Kramer et al and large cohort study by Mubanga et al, finding a positive association between dog ownership and improved health outcomes. The meta-analysis later received significant scrutiny in the form of multiple Letters to the Editor and a Commentary published together in the journal.
The major concern overall with these types of studies is there are too many confounding factors to draw casual conclusions; for example, someone who is already physically active may be more likely to decide they can support owning a dog. Setting up a randomized controlled trial with dogs is tough as most people probably know when they have received the placebo dog. Indeed, the article linked above reporting reduced loneliness in dog owners appears to be one of the few controlled studies as they managed to recruit participants just as they were planning on adopting a dog, another group who wanted to adopt sometime in the future, and a group that had no interest adopting a dog (arguably a tainted population, but I digress).
In the response to the criticism their meta-analysis received, Kramer et al highlight an article in Science demonstrating an “oxytocin-gaze positive loop” between dogs and their owners and they speculate the cause of improved outcomes is that this attachment “promotes greater adherence to a healthy lifestyle.” That our affection for our dogs make us want to be better, more healthy people. So with that in mind, please enjoy Jennifer’s article and the photos of her dog that is possibly making her a healthier person.
Editor-in-Chief, Science Editor
Connect: In her article, Jennifer encourages readers to reach out to her with “your social media success stories, your failures, and your favorite tips and tricks” so she can feature them in a future column. You can find her on Twitter @JenniferARegala or email at JRegala@AUANet.org.
CSE Annual Meeting Reports
Whether you missed last month’s excellent CSE Annual Meeting or just want to return to a useful session, we have you covered with our Meeting Reports written by an amazing group of volunteer reporters. All reports can be found in our online collection as they publish, and here is a sample of a few that have just posted:
Editors-In-Chief Roundtable: DEI and the EIC by Erin Landis
Managing Information from Preprints: The Scholarly Record and the Public Need for Information (Especially During a Pandemic) by Tony Alves
Progress Toward More Author-Friendly Submissions by Tony Alves
Early Online Article
I’m fan of disclaimers on articles. For example, here at Science Editor, we publish articles covering a range of opinions, so disclaimers can be a helpful reminder that the authors speak for themselves alone and I, the editorial board, and CSE may or may not agree. Although we’ve always had a disclaimer on the masthead, you may have noticed that we recently started including them on all articles because readers are more likely to come upon individual articles. In most cases, the disclaimer is likely unnecessary but this recent Fire of the Week on Maintaining Editorial Independence provides an excellent example of why it’s better to be expansive in their use. In this case of an editorial causing strife between a society and editor, the anonymous editorial team decided that singling out the article with a disclaimer would draw unwanted attention, which is likely true. Better for it to be always there than for you to wish it were.
REMINDER: Call for DEI Statements & Resources
CSE is launching a valuable new resource: a repository of journal and organizational statements related to diversity, equity, and inclusion. Has your journal or organization issued a statement about policies and practices related to diversity, equity, and inclusion? Please consider sharing your efforts with our community by completing the DEI Resources Submission Form.
Data presentation may not the first thing that comes to mind when thinking of editorial style, but as Stacy Christiansen notes in her new Style Bites column, it’s just as important that figures are “accurate, complete, and clear” as the text. In her article, Surviving the Curve: Tips for Handling Data Display, Stacy provides some tips and a checklist for editors and authors when creating or reviewing survival curves. Survival curves are many times key figures when reporting major outcomes in medical studies so ensuring they are understandable is essential.
Feedback and suggestions are always welcome at firstname.lastname@example.org.
We are also always looking for new submissions or article suggestions you may have; for more details, see our Information for Authors.