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Monday, November 12, 2007

Notes on the Harvard publishing forum

Kaitlin Thaney has blogged some notes on one of the panels at the Harvard Medical School conference, Publishing in the New Millennium: A Forum on Publishing in the Biosciences (Cambridge, November 9, 2007).  Excerpt:

Each panelist gets five minutes to introduce themselves and to identify a few key issues.  The panelists:

John Wilbanks - Vice President of Science Commons at Creative Commons

Wilbanks kicked off his 5 minutes by distinguishing the difference between the "social web"/ Web 2.0 and the "research web". This provided a great segue into the Neurocommons work, an open source knowledge management tool. While Science Commons uses a few technologies that fall into the "Web 2.0" category - blogs, tags, comments and feeds - our focus is more on the research web, which Wilbanks succinctly explained.

He started by illustrating how bad the Web works for science. This is where you can start to focus on "research web", in hopes of bringing some of the power of the Web (think of what it did for commerce in terms of eBay, Amazon, etc) to the scientific research cycle. Our Neurocommons project works towards this goal.

His most recent post on Nature Network actually looks at this exact issue [PS: see my excerpt below.] ...

Moshe Pritsker - Editor-in-Chief / Founder of the Journal of Visualized Experiments (JoVE) video publication for biological research....

Hilary Spencer - Product Manager, Nature Precedings

Precedings is a pre-print server, for prepublication research, preliminary findings and other documents of scientific interest. Spencer provides a bit of background about the server, noting that Precedings does not publish materials regarding clinical trials since the material on the server is not peer-reviewed. Due to that, Precedings does not accept materials that make specific therapeutic claims....

Why post research to a non-peer reviewed preprint server? Spencer touches on the following incentives for those in the research community: ability to record the provenance of an idea, Precedings serves as a permanent repository, enables authors to get pre-publication feedback, greater exposure, and authors retain copyright. Content is indexed, as well, in Google Scholar and BASE (an academic search engine).

Bora Zivkovic - Online Community Manager, PLoS One
PLoS One - now 10 months old. Bora shows some of the tools that PLoS One employs....

This journal operates on Topaz software, allowing community members to add content / value to a scholarly work after it's published. This includes a rating system, comments and the ability to post annotations.

A few questions to highlight ...

Q: How much of the community comments on material (directed towards PLoS One and Precedings)?

A: Spencer: Commentary on Precedings is actually quite low. Not sure why. Precedings does not allow anonymous posts, which could be why the numbers are so low. But not sure.
Zivkovic: PLoS One has quite a bit of commentary, 1,000 back in July and growing since then.

Q: There was a considerable amount of work done on the Semantic Web years ago, talk of it being a "cool" technology. What makes you think this will work now?

A: Wilbanks: The SW allows for one to add context to links between two things. The difference this time is that this is a public effort, bringing the power of Metcalfe's and Moore's Law to science. Wilbanks thinks this (being the NC and our SW work at Science Commons) is useful enough to justify the pain of working with RDF. This provides a single point of access to the public domain and information....