David Weinberger has blogged some notes on Timo Hannay's talk at Harvard's Berkman Center yesterday. Excerpt:
Timo Hannay is director of Web publishing at Nature magazine. His job is to help try to "make the most of the Web as a scientific communications medium." ...
He says that most scientists think about the Web in terms of open access. But he's not going to talk about that today, only because he wants to talk about some longer-term trends. He does think open access is incredibly important. He thinks it will happen primarily through mandatory archiving into accessible repositories....But the Web is more important than a cheap way to ship PDFs around. It can redefine scientific publishing and how science is done.
Scientific publishing is dominated by journals and databases. They tend not to talk with one another. But the chemical structures discussed in Nature Chemical Biology are entered into PubChem, an NIH database. Likewise, another site renders molecules into 3D and makes them available. But, as journals have moved online, they are becoming databases themselves. The articles are themselves structured entries, including article metadata, scientific metadata (e.g., which chemical entities, proteins, genes, etc. are described in the paper), structured data sets (e.g., System Biology Markup Language) accompanying articles, and more structure within the articles themselves (e.g., identifying genes as they are discussed) , including interactive figures that have the data underneath it. (The interactive figures are not yet online, he says.)
Likewise, he says, databases are starting to do peer review, further merging the publishing and database models....Journals and databases are becoming more like one another.
Peer review is ready to undergo revolution....
Timo talks about a system that analyzes papers at arxiv.org, notes the citations, and sends the paper out to the citations for comment and review.
Publish then filter or filter [then] publish? The Web likes the former. That's quite controversial, Timo says.
Timo talks about [scientific] blogging....
He talks about e-science....
The Web is bringing back to science its original sense of purpose....
Q: The barriers include psychological, cultural, infrastructure, and funding issues. Which are the most amenable to change and would make the biggest difference in enabling collaboration?
A: The social barriers --the norms and expectations-- are very difficult to change. The funders have the ability to change people's behavior with one stroke, e.g., mandating self-archiving. Journals also have influence. We [at Nature] require authors to put nucleotide sequences into the GenBank and require the accession number....
Q: (me) Doesn't the growth of processes other than peer review and open access constitute a threat to Nature?
A: In my view, developments of peer review are more of a threat to Nature than open access. Peer review has continuing value, but there is a threat. That's why Nature has to be out there experimenting and leading. There will still be a role [for] publishers to help people find what they need. Whether the incumbents are the best ones to do that we'll have to see.
Update. Timo's slides and a video of his presentation are now online.
Peter Suber at 10/18/2006 10:51:00 AM.
The open access movement:
Putting peer-reviewed scientific and scholarly literature
on the internet. Making it available free of charge and
free of most copyright and licensing restrictions.
Removing the barriers to serious research.