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Why are so many scientists reluctant to make full use of Web 2.0 applications, social networking sites, blogs, wikis, and commenting capabilities on some online journals?

Michael Nielsen wrote a very thoughtful essay exploring this question which I hope you read carefully and post comments.

Michael is really talking about two things – one is pre-publication process, i.e., how to get scientists to find each other and collaborate by using the Web, and the other is the post-publication process, i.e., how to get scientists to make their thoughts and discussions about published works more public.

Those of you who have been reading me for a while know that I am thinking along some very similar lines. If you combine, for instance, my review of Rainbows End by Vernor Vinge with
On my last scientific paper, I was both a stunt-man and the make-up artist with Journal Clubs – think of the future! with The Scientific Paper: past, present and probable future, you will see a similar thread of thinking.

But, what do you think?

Comments

  1. #1 PhysioProf
    July 18, 2008

    Why are so many scientists reluctant to make full use of Web 2.0 applications, social networking sites, blogs, wikis, and commenting capabilities on some online journals?

    Because scientists don’t spend professional time and effort on shit that they don’t get credit for.

  2. #2 Bjoern Brembs
    July 18, 2008

    @PP: Exactly!
    So what incentives could one provide to make smart comments?
    At least on PLoS One, the user profiles could list the number of papers authored / reviewed / handled as editor, comments, ratings, etc. Wouldn’t that provide an incentive to build a reputation? Or would that just be seen as a waste of time which should rather be spent doing experiments and writing papers? Is the perfect scientist the one who does nothing but writes papers and does experiments?

  3. #3 PhysioProf
    July 20, 2008

    At least on PLoS One, the user profiles could list the number of papers authored / reviewed / handled as editor, comments, ratings, etc. Wouldn’t that provide an incentive to build a reputation?

    This won’t mean jack diddly shit unless hiring, promotion, and tenure committees, as well as grant peer review panels, begin to consider such activities as part of a scientists “productivity”.

  4. #4 Sonali Bankal
    September 26, 2008

    Mr. Zivkovic,
    Thanks for sharing the essay and your thinking around scientists and Web 2.0. We have been doing research on the way scientists use social media and our latest report focuses on how scientists are taking on the new online publishing model. My agency (PJA) and Bioinformatics LLC produced this Ebook which is available for download at
    http://www.lifesciencesocialmedia.com.

    Please feel free to check out our site and download the report if you are interested. Thank you!

    Sonali

  5. #5 PeteC
    October 23, 2008

    Why are so many scientists reluctant to make full use of Web 2.0 applications, social networking sites, blogs, wikis, and commenting capabilities on some online journals?

    I would ask the question differently,

    “Do Web2.0 applications, social networking sites, blogs, wikis, etc. provide sufficient benefit to scientists to justify their spending nontrivial amounts of time using them?”

    I think now the answer is pretty much no, both because of the early adopter problem, and because a lot of the web is crap.

    I recently signed up for a scientific social networking site whose name I can’t remember. I get emails from them saying who has recently joined, how I can ask new questions to the group, who has connected with whom, who has updated their profile. And, the site is perfectly useless. It doesn’t solve any problems.

    Maybe this will all get sorted out into a set of useful, stable web2.0 tools, necessarily accompanied by changes in the economics of scientific work and reward, but right now I think the answer is, scientists are being rational and choosing not to use the tools that are… not useful to them.

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