Saturday, January 19, 2008

Semi-Live Blogging the Science Blogging Conference

Open Science

This session was highly interesting, however it was slightly disjointed, which is probably reflective of the state in which the current architecture of science publication.  There is so much changing in this area right now that there are many many issues which need to be thoughtfully discussed, analyzed and thoroughly examined.  This post is going to be very disjointed, but there were many many issues in this session which I felt were wonderfully raised and really deserve a lot of attention.

Here's the Laundry list of issues (very brief summaries, some of which I'll expand upon) which were raised:
  • networking information and data access with the mounting huge amount of information available
  • hierarchical editing structures of journals currently in place, and possible better alternatives to the current structure
  • paper embargoes and science journalism
  • access, editing, and web 2.0 integration with science
  • how browsing has changed and how science can integrate with that
  • intellectual property and open science / interface between pharma and academe
  • integration of international barrier to science communication
  • how do you make science more open (answer: incentives, how?)
Below are a couple of ideas that I want to really flush out.  I'll include time stamped updates later, but this is just so that I don't forget what's going on.  Hurray live-blogging.

The idea that perhaps science is getting so broad that at some point the peer-reviewed journals are not going to provide any informative information, but rather will become interesting tidbits of discussion, but will not influence the vast majority of research.  How are the major publications going to do with this?  And how should scientists cope with the fact that the informational web is getting so large that impact factors are going to get drowned out?  How will academe deal with this shift in structure and it's reward based system for publication?

One rather interesting point that was brought up was that multidisciplinarity has actually decreased the ability of researchers to publish papers.  For researchers which are cross pollenating fields, some of them are finding that getting reviewers is much harder than when they are trying to publish in a specified microcosm.  I find this particularly interesting in the light of the fact that the NIH is really pushing the style of grants that create synergistic collaborations between labs of varied fields.  This seems to be one area in which there is an obvious interest, but that reviewers have not gotten to the point of really feeling the incentive to help push research that is out of their microcosm, even if there is overlap.  One thing that must be changed is the ways in which scientists perceive their roles in science.  We can no longer be the curators of the microcosms, but rather we must impart our expertise where we can, but not limit ourselves to one small select area.

This leads me to the next issue of how the peer review should be used.  One commenter suggested to use of peer review as a smell test rather than a litmus test - allow access to the community, and then let them do the flushing of the research.  We currently leave too much trust is put in the peer-review system.  What must be changed is how willing scientists will be to place their name, their reputation, and their knowledge in the open for discussion and disclosure of science.

On top of this one issue is how citations are used.  One commenter posited that better citation analysis for publications would be worthwhile.  They suggested other information about how the citation is being used such as why and how did the citation impact later publications.

I would like to end with some questions that I would like to ponder.  Can the current memes be broken when the NIH and government still are based out of the old structures?  Can a new structure and hierarchy of science be created if the peer review standard is still being used for the funding of the science?  how could we rethink this structure so that we could still reward researchers but also incentivize it so that these structures naturally develop?  How will the new generation affect the scientific infrustructure?  How can user based programs and network based infrastructures change the current architecture of science publication?  how can the newer infrastructures handle and represent the data that is being generated and help streamline the community discussion of science?

No comments: