A few days ago, Nature launched its newest Web 2.0 baby, the Nature Precedings.
It is very interesting to see the initial responses, questions and possible misunderstandings of the new site, so browse through these posts and attached comments by Pedro Beltrao, Timo Hannay, Peter Suber (and again), Kaitlin Thaney, Jean–Claude Bradley, Guru, Egon Willighagen, Deepak Singh, ChemSpy, Putting Down A Marker, Maxine Clarke, Bryan Vickery, Clarence Fisher, David Weinberger, AJC, Euan Edie, Tim O’Reilly, Dean Giustini, Peta Hopkins, Eric, mrees, Sally Wyman, Michael Jubb, Alex Palazzo, Marie, Corie Lok, Attila Csordas, Ben Vershbow, Kathleen Fitzpatrick, Andrea Gawrylewski, Lukasz Cwiklik, Yeastbeast, Kevin Gamble, Andy Powell, lvowell, John Timmer, Brandon Keim, Omics, Revere and many others. It’s worth your time to read all that (and most of the posts are not very long anyway)!
Just a quick thought (more, much more, is likely to come soon!) for now about a couple of questions:
What is the appropriate content?
First, what kind of stuff should one put on Nature Precedings?
For instance, if I have a poster that I took to a couple of meetings in 1999/2000 and the paper has come out since – is it still interesting?
If I have a poster that I took to a couple of meetings in 2001/2002 which contains unpublished data, but does not contain data collected later which somewhat modify the conclusions, is it dishonest to put it on NP? The same for a PPT file of a talk?
I have posted unpublished data at the very end of this review post. Is that OK for NP?
What I mean here is the possibility to have stuff posted at several websites simultaneously, thus ensuring that at least one copy survives the next 1000 years or so. NP is going to automatically store everything at a few separate places, I understand, and some of the stuff will get published in peer-reviewed journals later, and some of the stuff will also get re-posted on blogs.
The University library repositories are pretty empty and include only copies of already published peer-reviewed papers. They are also scattered among many institutions. It is so much better to have everything at one place, under the banner of a respectable brand name. And, since it is under Creative Commons licence, Nature has no copyright over the material.
Open Science organizations tend to see each other as potential collaborators, not competitors (soooo 20th century!).
Publishability (did I just invent a new word?)
A recurring question in the posts/comments linked above: will posting stuff on NP make it more difficult to later publish the same data in a Journal? Yes, if it is a Closed Access journal. No, if it is an Open Access journal (or Nature, which I hope will go full Open Access one day soon). Thus, NP is good for Open Science. Put the preliminary results on NP, get feedback, do some more work, write a manuscript, send it to PLoS-ONE, have it peer-reviewed both before and after publication, and enjoy the visibility (and the increased rate of citations) afterwards.
I think that people misunderstood where I was going with this post a few days ago. I was not suggesting to use Facebook as a platform for science networking (though outreach can certainly be done there). I was suggesting that we study why Facebook is so attractive (and addictive) and try to replicate it for scientists. Read what danah boyd wrote about it the other day for the first inklings of why Facebook is becoming so interesting to ‘grown-ups’ ever since the outside applications were allowed a few weeks ago (she’s in Berkeley, isn’t she – I have to get to meet her and pick her brains while I am there in July).
In other words, Science 2.0 is scattered all over. I have far too many bookmarks to various sites and I cannot and will not check every one of them every 10 minutes. But if there was ONE SINGLE place to go and get all of the stuff, it would be a site of choice to every scientist on the planet.
Just imagine going online in the morning and having your browser ‘home’ set at a website that combines into one spot PLoS-ONE, Knowble, Nature Precedings, Nature Network, Nature Blogs, Nature Blog Network, Scienceblogs.com, Connotea, Postgenomic, Scintilla, JeffsBench, Erudix, ArXiv.com, JoVE, Lab Action, SciTalks and other stuff like thought experiments, medical hypotheses, biological procedures, Open Notebook Science, etc.? Having one Sci-ID (trademark by me) that works on all those sub-sites and places all of your uses of it in your profile that can be used for your promotion, tenure, employment, etc.? Totally Awesome!!!
Obviously, I have been thinking about these questions for a while now and I may be one of the more optimistic folks out there. Hopefully, with my new job starting in less than two weeks, I’ll be able to turn some of the thinking (fueled by optimism) into action and test it in the real world!