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Amedeo Prize 2008

Interview #2 - 22 December 2007:

Cultural Divide in Europe; UK post-Croatia Shock; Amedeo Prize Self Nominators; Prize Money 30,000 Euro?; Christmas Gift Exchange - Sue Weinstein in conversation with Bernd Sebastian Kamps, Amedeo President and creator of the Amedeo Prize.

Weinstein: During the first three weeks, you have received more than 700 nominations for the Amedeo Prize. That is more than I expected and I apologize for my skepticism of our last conversation.

Kamps: The nominations come in steadily. During the first days, there were some misunderstandings because we had not been clear enough about self-nominations, which are not permitted. We should also have explained that no one was expected to figure out which article could possibly be THE BEST article of the year. The only thing needed at this time is that all Amedeo subscribers submit just their personal favorite articles.

Weinstein: How long does it take your subscribers to nominate an article for the Prize?

Kamps: A few minutes for one article, half an hour if they submit the maximum of seven nominations. Interestingly, every time seven articles are nominated in a row, you get the impression that they are very carefully selected. You sense that the nominator is passionate about medical literature. As I said earlier: The fantastic thing about Amedeo is that you can really rely on the people who gather around the service.

Weinstein: From where do the nominations arrive?

Kamps: They come from 60 countries, with Italy, Spain, the US, Brazil, Germany and Argentina being in the first places. There are regional differences, though. When calculating the number of nominations per 1,000 eligible voters, Portugal, Argentina, Italy and Spain contribute twice as many nominations as France, Switzerland, Germany, or the Netherlands; and four times as many as China, the US, Ireland, Japan, South Korea, Russia or South Africa.

Weinstein: I miss the UK in your list.

Kamps: The UK? A disaster: almost absent from the competition! We have received ten times less nominations from the UK than from Italy or Spain. That is curious because, when you calculate the number of subscribers per one million population, the UK is among the top 10 Amedeo countries together with Switzerland, Belgium, Spain, Australia and Denmark.

Weinstein: Any explanation for the UK desertion?

Kamps: I can only speculate. Is it the post-Croatia shock - you won't let me play in the European Championship, so I won't participate in the Amedeo Prize? Probably not. Maybe more subtle factors come into play, for example...

Weinstein: ...a greater workload in some countries?

Kamps: No, these are things of the past. Today, a doctor in the UK does not work more than his colleague in Spain or in Italy. The explanation may be of a different order. Think about it: Amedeo asks you to spend 5 to 30 minutes of your time to make another person win tens of thousands of Euro - a person you have never seen and who you may never ever meet in your entire life.

Weinstein: That supposes a minimum of altruism...

Kamps: ...and generosity. In my personal experience, these qualities are not evenly distributed throughout our continent and may be more prevalent around the Mediterranean Sea.

Weinstein: You are neither Italian nor Spaniard, so nobody will accuse you of patriotism.

Kamps: Fortunately, I am above the parties. And of course, there is no such thing as a country without generous people. Generosity is everywhere. But the special form of generosity needed for the Amedeo Prize may be more common in some places than others. The data are unambiguous: Take the territory of the ancient Roman Empire, exclude the UK from it, and inside the borders of the empire you will find the countries which contribute most to the Amedeo Prize. Why not, after all? For 2,000 years, the border of the Roman Empire has been a cultural divide in Europe. Here you drink beer, there you drink wine; here life is somewhat more organized, there it is more relaxed; here the cooking is more spartan, there it is traditionally more elaborate and tasteful because of a benign climate. Personally, I am happy about these differences. The more variety you have, the more interesting the world is.

Weinstein: Does that mean that the Amedeo Prize will lack authority and credibility?

Kamps: Not at all. To run the Amedeo Prize we don't need the expertise of our colleagues from a handful of "low-participation countries". The combined expertise of the global Amedeo community does not depend on the contribution of any particular country.

Weinstein: You once said that 1,500 nominations for the Prize would be fine. Why that limit?

Kamps: When you check PubMed, you will find that every year there are about 200,000 articles published in the most important medical subcategories. 1,500 would be roughly one percent of these papers.

Weinstein: One percent may not be an adequate pre-selection for the Amedeo Prize?

Kamps: In fact, it is. If you look at the first ten journals of the preliminary nomination list, you see that some journals have already 10 to 20% of this year's articles nominated for the Prize (see http://amedeoprize.com/ap/medicaljournals.php) .

Weinstein: In other words, you believe that the future winner of the Amedeo Prize 2008 published his articles in one of these top 10 journals?

Kamps: I don't anticipate anything at all. An author who has published in a well-established journal has a bigger audience than authors who have published in less-known journals. During the three voting rounds, visibility could translate into votes, but in the end, this is all speculation.

Weinstein: The Amedeo Prize website says repeatedly that - I quote - "you may not nominate your own articles or those you co-published." How is the compliance with this rule?

Kamps: 85% of all nominators have respected this rule so far.

Weinstein: Which leaves you with 15% who don't.

Kamps: Yes, unfortunately. Our monitor is busier than he expected to be.

Weinstein: So you have a monitor? Does that mean that the nomination process is not secret?

Kamps: It is extremely secret. Only my brother Stephan, who is the chief software developer at Amedeo, and myself have access to the nomination and poll data. Needless to say, the data will never be made public.

Weinstein: So if I participate in the nomination, you can see which article I nominated?

Kamps: Yes, of course.

Weinstein: That means that my nomination is not secret.

Kamps: Yes, it is, because I won't check your nomination.

Weinstein: But you could?

Kamps: I wouldn't. Please believe me: I don't have time to waste on checking individual nominations. The only thing that counts is the final ranking and who will be the winner of the Amedeo Prize. By the way, the independent monitor is my brother Stephan. He is not a physician and does not care who nominates whom. He will crosscheck every single nomination and delete the self-nominations. Our chief illustrator Carmen Rivera had demonstrated his job in a funny drawing.

Weinstein: How do you think people will react when they find out that their self-nominations have been deleted?

Kamps: They will accept it. Most of them simply didn't read the sentence, which explains the no-self-nomination rule. Some people noticed it only after the nomination and promptly sent me an email, asking me to delete it.

Weinstein: Someone might complain about being spied upon in his nomination activities...

Kamps: No, I don't think so. The Amedeo Prize has few rules and one of them is fairly simple: "You may not nominate your own articles or those you co-published." Whenever you establish rules, you must give yourself the means to have these rules respected, otherwise there is no point making rules. This is a well-established principle in life.

Weinstein: In early December, you announced that the Prize money has been raised by an additional 5,000 Euro. The Amedeo Prize now stands at 15,000 Euro...

Kamps: ...and will hopefully continue to increase. I would like to see the Prize money reach at least 30,000 Euro. Do you understand now why I am so keen on having more nominations? The more nominations we have, the more donations we will get. As Amedeo Prize is a non-profit initiative and as all contributions from donations and institutional sponsors will be entirely - 100% - distributed among the Prizewinners, I don't see why I should refrain from pushing the Amedeo subscribers into the nomination process.

Weinstein: Are you sure that you are not promoting the Prize a bit too heavily? To invite the Amedeo subscribers to the nomination, you sent two emails a few hours apart.

Kamps: I have never done that before and I won't do it again. But the Amedeo Prize deserved it and that's why I did it.

Weinstein: How did your subscribers react?

Kamps: There were no complaints, which is in an indication that the message was understood. One colleague asked after the second "P.S." mail: "Is this a threatening e-mail?" Of course it was not. I simply could not put all the information into one single email. You know, messages which are too long simply finish in the trash folder...

Weinstein: One surgeon was more eloquent in his criticism.

Kamps: That was a colleague from Hungary who was about to operate on a frail patient "who may die in the operation and definitely will die without it" and who had been on call all day seeing emergency cases. He continued: "Maybe you cannot imagine that checking and answering my emails gives a sort of 'putting things in order feeling' which is a good way of preparing for an operation, however participating in a competition or nomination needs a sort of joy and relaxation I do not have now." I explained to him the reason for what I did and we are now friends.

Weinstein: What next?

Kamps: It is Christmas time.

Weinstein: That has nothing to do with the Amedeo Prize.

Kamps: Don't be so sure. Amedeo will ask its subscribers for a modest Christmas gift.

Weinstein: Ah, I see. Nothing more than a nomination for the Amedeo Prize...

Kamps: One tiny little nomination in exchange for one year of loyal and devoted service...

Weinstein: ..."and with that we wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!"

Kamps: Well, Not just that. Whenever you ask for something, always offer something in exchange. Remember the Latin "do ut des".

Weinstein: And what will we find under our Christmas trees?

Kamps: HIV Medicine 2007, by Christian Hoffmann, Juergen Rockstroh and myself. 15th edition, 800 pages, free download - the same procedure as every year.

Weinstein: You really don't miss anything to get the Amedeo Prize flying up into the air, do you?

Kamps: 800 pages in exchange for a single nomination for the Amedeo Prize 2008 is an honest exchange, isn't it?

Weinstein: That makes me think - excuse me if I change the topic completely - that I still don't know why only the first authors are eligible for the Amedeo Prize - and not the last authors.

Kamps: That's too long a story to be told now. Let's leave that for our next conversation.

Weinstein: All right. So I just wish you a happy and successful New Year 2008?

Kamps: You mean for me and for the success of the Amedeo Prize 2008? Thank you. After all, the Prize celebrates the 10th anniversary of Amedeo.

Weinstein: So, Happy Birthday, too?

Kamps: Not now, on May 22nd. I wish you a happy and successful 2008, too. And I wish, of course, the very best - health, prosperity and professional success - to all our subscribers in 205 countries around the world.




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