Open Access News

News from the open access movement

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Launch of Sci-Mate

Christopher Dyer has launched a suite of tools called Sci-Mate (for Scientific Material Transfer Exchange) for sharing research information and physical specimens.  From today's announcement:

Scientists should benefit when their knowledge is openly applied and developed by other members of the research and development industry. However, in practice researchers generally fail to realise these benefits, and so focus their efforts on publishing information in exclusive journals and patenting otherwise valuable technology. The Sci-Mate is an entirely new approach that uses Web 2.0 software to ensure that researchers benefit from the broader application and ongoing development of their ideas.

Because publication is so important to researchers, the Sci-Mate contains software that makes it relatively easy for scientists to collaboratively assemble high impact publications. Open access wiki software allows individual researchers to place highly specialised knowledge into a pre-existing context in such a way so as to increase the value of both their contribution and the value of the pre-existing information. With academics in mind, the “Wiki-Mate” records authorship, assigns copyright, defines licenses, manages editing, and includes custom software for an interactive peer-review process. This pre-publishing environment will be further streamlined to include one-click submission of peer-reviewed articles for open access or 'traditional' publication when an appropriate publishing partner/solution is identified....

A separate tool, based on similar principles, allows researchers to exchange any item of interest to researchers through software a bit like eBay (but without auctions and a necessary commercial focus)....This provides open access to many valuable research tools, such as antibodies, plasmids, hardware, assay services, etc, that would otherwise be ignored by other developers desperately seeking such solutions. Once listed on the site, the software then makes it very easy (compared to 1-to-1 emails) for owners to answer questions, evaluate requests and safely distribute material towards productive collaborations. To protect IP following exchange, the software provides extensive records, reports and data-flows to researchers, administrative staff and other controlling interests without any additional work for the researcher. This dramatically simplifies the distribution of even commercial items to other researchers, and technology transfer to industry. The same software can be used to list jobs, courses, grants, seminars, conferences and other matters of interest to the research community, which can be easily sorted and searched by interested users.

In addition to these major tools, co-operation is further facilitated by a discussion forum and networking tools, and space is provided for software developers to embed additional services of value to the research community.

The Sci-Mate is a community project that is intended to be owned, controlled and administrated by its members according to the social and democratic principles of Web 2.0.