April 10, 2009 2 Comments
I have been insanely busy recently with trips and papers and corrections and…etc…and only now have a bit of time to catch up with some of my feeds and people’s blog posts. One post which caught my eye was Egon’s recent blog post about data-rich or data-centric publishing, in which he argues strongly for a new kind of publishing: a publishing in which data is treated as a first class citizen and which allows/requires an author to not just publish the words of a paper, but his research data too and to publish it in such a way that the barrier to access by machines is low.
This reminded me of what I thought was a particularly tragic case, which I blogged about a while ago here. In this particular case, industrious researchers had synthesized an incredible 630 polystyrene copolymers and recorded their RAMAN spectra. Now this is more than a crying shame: a lot of work has gone into producing the polymers and recording the data. And I ask you (provided you are a materials scientist and have an interest in such things), when was the last time that YOU came across such a large and rich library of polymers together with their spectral data? And through no fault of their own, the only way these authors saw to publish their data was in the form of a pdf archive in the supplemental information.
Now Egon’s point was that newly formed journals – and in particular newly formed Journals of Chemoinformatics – have the opportunity to do something fundamentally good and wholesome: namely to change the way in which data publication is being accomplished and to give scientists BETTER tools to deal with and disseminate their data. This long and rambly blogpost is my way of violently agreeing with Egon: I believe that THIS is where an awful lot of the added value of the journal of the future will lie. This will be even more true, as successive generations of scientists will start to become more data savvy: last week I talked to a collaborator of ours who had just put in for some funding to train chemistry students in both chemistry and informatics: a whole dedicated course. Now once these students start their own scientific careers, they will both care and know about science and scientific data. And if I were a publisher, I would want to have something to offer them….