Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Wiki for Scientists

One of the commonest complaints of scientists and people involved in research is the amount of time spent on writing papers, submitting them to journals, waiting for the peer-reviewed paper to come back and to rewriting according to specifications before these papers are published. The various journals realize this time delay and have taken the step of publishing papers online before the hard-copy comes out. Many scientists think that more should or could be done. Scientist Fabio Casati suggests that scientists should just post their papers in their websites like a wiki. Information Society Technologies (ICT) reports,

Don’t print it; post it

Following the lead of physicists and mathematicians who for years have been posting early versions of their papers on a website called arXiv.com for quick dissemination and peer critiques, Casati and his colleagues propose that all scientists jump start the dissemination of their findings by posting them online.

“The idea is that when people write papers, they put them on their webpage quickly, easily and for zero cost,” Casati says.

At the same time, Casati suggests, every scientist and research group can create its own “liquid journal” which groups publications that are interesting and relevant to a given topic.

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Online The Scientist journal adds to the discussion. One of the worries is whether the papers will be up to standard. Wikipedia who have millions of articles boost an accuracy rate compatible to the Britannica. Will it work with scientific papers? Can scientists police themselves and an 'invisible college' acts to maintain standards?
Image: Wikimedia commons, Gflores

Now, information engineer Fabio Casati of the University of Trento in Italy and his collaborators are suggesting science publishing try something entirely new, taking full advantage of the rapidly evolving Web 2.0 technology.

They suggest making research -- including formal manuscripts, datasets, presentation slides, and other presentations -- available through the web without any sort of traditional peer-review process. That research would then be searchable and citable by the rest of the scientific community at no cost.

"In this way -- by looking at what people do in terms of reading, sharing, or connecting scientific knowledge -- we can have a way of finding out which scientific resources are considered good and interesting by the scientific community," Casati said.

Specifically, he and his team envision a new age of scientific journals, created by the users themselves -- the scientists. "I [could] have my own journal, which I maintain on peer review, for example," he explains. "[When I find an interesting paper], I drag and drop the pdf file [in] the journal" using the platform provided by LiquidPublication, which recognizes the file, obtains the url, and retrieves the metadata, etc. "I do this because I want to keep track of it for myself [and alert] all my team, [but] by doing this, we also share [our thoughts on the research] with the world."

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