Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Changing scientific publishing

There was a panel discussion about the future of scientific publishing in the Neuroscience 2006 conference. Sandra Aamodt of Nature's Action Potencial blog, Jake Young from Pure Pedantry and Dave Munger from Cognitive Daily have blogged their thoughts on what was talked about.

There are two main points under discussion. One is how can the publishers make the switch to an open access model (where all the content is available) in a sustainable way. My impression from what I read and from talking to other people is that a lot of the publishers are or will be experimenting with open access options and if the demand is high enough this will be the direction they will go for.

The other big discussion is how to transition to the web, taking advantage of other possible tools that are not available in the print world. This issue is unfortunately much less explored. One of reasons is because they are stuck in the first issue. Another reason is that the people who are in charge of editorial boards are taking some time to realise the potential of the internet. Blogs and wikis for them are something messy and chaotic that teens use.

Is there any science related activities on blogs and wikis ?
- according the September statistics there are about 1500 science related blog posts per week coming from about 200 science blogs register in postgenomic
- postgenomic has gathered comments on about 2500 papers
- there are about 1000 science related blogs registered in Technorati.
- there are more than 1500 scientists helping out to build the OpenWetWare wiki.

I did not try to get numbers from connotea and citeulike but I am sure that are a lot of papers being tagged and rated every day.
Given that the science community as just started to participate online in blogs and wikis I guess the numbers will only increase.

One interesting detail, postgenomic keeps track of the most referenced journals (on indexed blogs) and the top tree are Nature, Science and ArXiv. The third most blogged about "journal" is a repository of manuscripts that have not yet been peer reviewed.

There are all sorts of possible criticism that one can make of these numbers. Technorati numbers are probably inflated with spam blogs and blogs that are not really science related, comments indexed by postgenomic can be anything from one line to a full review, etc. I just wanted to show that there is already a lot of science communication going on in blogs and wikis.