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Open Access in Belgrade

As you know, I gave two lectures here in Belgrade. The first one, at the University Library on Monday, and the second one at the Oncology Institute of the School of Medicine at the University of Belgrade. As the two audiences were different (mainly librarians/infoscientists at the first, mainly professors/students of medicine at the second) I geared the two talks differently.

You can listen to the audio of the entire thing (the second talk) here, see some pictures (from both talks) here and read (in Serbian) a blog post here, written by incredible Ana Ivkovic who organized my entire Belgrade “tour” this year.

The second talk was, at the last minute, moved from the amphitheater to the library, which was actually good as the online connection is, I hear, much much better in the library. Library got crowded, but in the end everyone found a chair. What I did, as I usually do, was to come in early and open up all the websites I wanted to show in reverse chronological order, each in a separate window. Thus, the site I want to show first is on top at the beginning. When I close that window, the second site is the top window, then the third, etc. Thus I do the talk by closing windows instead of opening them (and hoping and praying that would not take too much time).

Knowing how talks usually go in the States, I prepared to talk for about 50 minutes. But, when I hit the 50 minute mark, I realized that nobody was getting restless – everyone was looking intently, jotting down URLs of sites I was showing, nodding….so I continued until I hit 60 minutes as which time I decided to wrap up and end. Even then, nobody was eager to get up and leave. I was hoping I’d get a question anyway….and sure, I got 45 minutes of questions. Then another 20 minutes or so of people approaching me individually to ask questions….

I used the Directory of Open Access Journals as the backdrop to give a brief history of the Open Access movement, the difference between Free Access and Open Access and the distinction between Green OA and Gold OA.

Then I used the PLoS.org site to explain the brief history of PLoS and the differences between our seven journals. Of course, this being medical school, I gave some special consideration to PLoS Medicine.

Then I used the Ida – Darwinius massillae paper to explain the concept of PLoS ONE, how our peer-review is done and to show/demonstrate the functionalities on our papers, e.g., ratings, notes, comments, article-level metrics and trackbacks.

Then I used the Waltzing Matilda paper to enumerate some additional reasons why Open Access is a Good.Thing.

Trackbacks were also a good segue into the seriousness by which the scientific and medical community is treating blogs these days. I showed Speaking of Medicine and EveryONE blog as examples of blogs we use for outreach and information to our community.

I showed and explained ResearchBlogging.org (which they seemed to particularly be taken with and jotted down the URL), showed and explained the visibility and respect of such blogging networks as Scienceblogs.com and Nature Network and then Connotea as an example of various experiments in Science 2.0 that Nature is conducting.

I put in a plug for ScienceOnline conferences and the Open Laboratory anthologies as yet another proof how seriously Science 2.0 and science blogging is now being taken in the West. Then showed 515 scientists on Twitter, The Life Scientists group and Medicine 2.0 Microcarnival on FriedFeed as examples of the ways scientists are now using microblogging platforms for communication and collaboration. I pointed out how Pawel Szczesny, through blogging and FriendFeed, got collaborations, publications, and in the end, his current job.

Then I described Jean-Claude Bradley’s concept (and practice) of Open Notebook Science and showed OpenWetWare as a platform for such work. I pointed out that Wikipedia and wiki-like projects are now edited by scientists, showing the examples of A Gene Wiki for Community Annotation of Gene Function, BioGPS and ChemSpider and ended by pointing out a couple of examples of the ways the Web allows citizen scientists to participate in massive collaborative research projects

But probably the most important part of the talk was my discussion of the drawbacks of Impact Factor and the current efforts to develop Article-level metrics to replace it – something that will be particularly difficult to change in developing countries yet is essential especially for them to be cognizant of and to move as fast as they can so as not to be left behind as the new scientific ecosystem evolves.

Comments

  1. #1 Ana Ivkovic
    July 13, 2009

    That’s right! Your lectures were more than interesting!Both of them at University library and at Oncology. After presenting PLoS One at Oncology… reactions were fantastic!!!!
    You are VERY ELOQUENT SPEAKER!
    …and…thank you for “incredible Ana” , it was amusing to organize your “tour”!
    My blog is in serbian but could be translated by Google translate somehow, see sidebar on my blog.
    regards!

    Ana

  2. #2 Ljiljana Vuckovic-Dekic
    July 14, 2009

    Dear Bora, your lecture delivered at the Institute for Oncology and Radiology of Serbia indeed met an interested audience.I personally was impressed by your critics of the IF system,since I am well-aware that it is severely criticized lately.However, you are right – in developing counties it will be extremely difficult to make any changes concerning the evaluation of the individual scientist (for promotion, awards etc.)by parameters other than the publication count and the IF of the journals in which the articles were published.
    I am very happy because one of the journals I edit (Assoc. editor) – is now indexed in SCIE list and is an Open Access journal. Best regards, Ljiljana