Saturday, September 29, 2007

The ephemeral journal II

(via Deepak) Earlier this month I posted about how re-grouping of content after publication could be used to foster the creation of more focused online scientific communities. My impression is that these "places" could more easily attract a group of people of similar interests that would more likely engage in discussions, in contrast to a place like PLoS ONE that covers way to many topics.

There are several names for these groupings (Nature/BMC gateways, Nature Reports, a topics page) and PLoS came out with another one - Hub. They launched a re-grouping of content focused on Clinical Trials that they call PLoS Hub for Clinical Trials. It is built on Topaz so it has everything that PLoS ONE has (comments, ratings, trackbacks,etc).

They mention in the home page of this Hub that they plan to in the future also "feature open-access articles from other journals plus user-generated content". I suspect that they could go even a bit further on this and give more control to the users for the creation of content for the Hubs and even to create new Hubs. One thing that I like in traditional journals that also creates a feeling of identity and community is the more personal news and views and editorials. PLoS could commission/invite scientists/bloggers to help create this type of content for their Hubs. This would be something like a community blog centered on this Hubs' research.

Once upon a time (before Digg if I remember right), we tried to do this in Nodalpoint. For a while we had a queue from bioinformatic related journals that we could vote on to upgrade it to the front page of the blog. At the time it did not work very well because of lack of users and participation but it in essence it was not very different from what the publishers are trying to do now. Maybe we could try it again :).