Notes from Science Online – What is a Scientific Paper?

Session to discuss how technology, blogging, the internet etc. has changed the nature of scientific communication.

The Panel was kicked off by an illustration of science communication through the ages

Katherine Barnes (Launch Editor, Nature Protocols)

  • Papers: Traditional peer reviews and edited Nature Protocols
  • Not papers: Network protocols uploaded by the community
  • Movies – visualised experiments – should be part of experimental descriptions
  • Nature Preceedings: preprint server
  • Nature Chemistry: 3D models, downloadable ChemDraw files etc.
  • Which improvements does the community desire? Data downloading, layour wenhancements etc.
  • The Bottom Line: basic unit of a publshed paper is peer reviewed and edited – BUT keen to enhance the basic unit with movies, data etc.

Theodora Bloom (PLoS Biology)

  • Does paper work in the online age? – NO. How can we radically overhaul the paper?
  • Unique author identifiers
  • Methods ought to be date-stamped per experiment in a central database
  • For large datasets: need to link paper to a snapshot of a large database containing the data
  • Showing examples of multimedia sources illustrating author claims in papers e.g. a claim that two protein structures are similar is linked to a movie showing an overlay of the two structures
  • References: real-time citation analysis

Enrico Balli – Media Lab Sissa…

  • Publishes Journal of High Energy Physics, Proceedings of Science
  • Sissa publishes papers, preceedings, posters – how do you peer review posters, presentations, software manuals for scientific software and educational material?
  • Bottom Line: many types of scientific content that needs to be scited and linked to – but we have no means for publishing or citing it.
  • Do we need to think about a “Journal of Stuff?”

General Discussion:

How do you pay for the increased cost for the creation of this enhanced multimedia content.

  • Funders should..
  • Authors should supply data – it’s easy right?
  • Editors should provide editing capability for multimedia
  • Preservation of digital artefacts is a huge problem…

Audiance DIsagreement

Providing data is incredibly hard – at least providing it in such a form that others can understand it…general agreement from the audience: data publication is extremely expensive if the data is to be reusable..…

Biology has bifurcation of publishing: papers on the one hand and real knowledge in the form of databases..how do we reconcile the two?

Audience: There has been no innovation in the scientific paper….Research Assesment Exercise is distorting: computer scientists publishing in biology journals get evaluated in computern science units…which leads to low evaluations….but high ones if evaluated in Biology units

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