Cognitive Daily

Have you been following the progress over at BPR3? Here’s an update:

With the release of the Research Blogging icon, dozens of blogs and hundreds of posts are already showing the world when they are discussing peer-reviewed research. But the next step will be far more dramatic: a site which consolidates all those posts in one place.

For now, you can do a Technorati search to find out who’s using the icon. I love Technorati, but its results aren’t always consistent, and it can take several clicks to locate the specific post you’re interested in. BPR3‘s new system will display the opening of each blog post as well as a complete citation of the peer-reviewed articles discussed in the post. In fact, we’re running a test version of the system right now, and beginning to open it to bloggers for testing. Here’s a screenshot:

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As you can see, the author, blog name, topic, and text of the entry are readily apparent. The research each post cites is there, too. Clicking on the post title or “more” brings you the whole post. Click on the blog title to see the whole blog. Compare it to the Technorati search for blogs using the icon:

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Some of the same blog posts are found, but the amount of information for each post varies. While there’s some text for the entry from Bjorn Brembs’ blog, clicking on the post title takes you to another Technorati page, not the post itself. Walter’s HighlightHEALTH post on prostate cancer research is there, but there’s no text from the post, so you don’t necessarily get enough information to decide whether to click through (clicking on the post title in this case does takes you to the actual post, not the Technorati page — that’s good, but not very consistent).

None of this is meant to be a criticism of Technorati — given the lack of standards in the blogosphere, it’s not surprising that Technorati has a hard time making its own site consistent. It’s admirable that they’ve been able to reveal so many of the connections throughout the blogosphere.

Our system is different because it collects a key bit of data from each blogger in advance, which helps us display and share the information in more meaningful ways. Here’s how it works:

  1. Bloggers register their blogs with our system, giving the location of their blog and RSS feed and a basic description of the topics they discuss.
  2. An administrator approves each blog
  3. When the blogger is ready to write a post about peer reviewed research, she comes to our site to enter the citation data (authors, journal title, date, etc.). Our site provides code that formats the citation properly and allows our indexer to locate the post.
  4. The blogger pastes the code into her post, and publishes it when the post is complete
  5. Our indexer regularly checks each registered blog’s RSS feed to see when it’s been updated.
  6. When it finds a new post, it visits the blog itself to collect the key information for our database. This means the citation can be placed anywhere in the post and is not required to be in the RSS feed.
  7. The post is then displayed on our aggregator site.

This system has a number of advantages, the most important being that it allows us to adhere to the most commonly-used standards for tracking research citations. This means that eventually other sites will be able to share the information in our database in many different ways, while always giving the original bloggers — and the researchers they cite — credit for their work. It’s really no more work for bloggers to use our system, since they need to type up citations for their blogs either way, and our system handles the dirty work of HTML tags automatically. In the future, we’ll work to make our system compatible with citation managers such as Connotea to make the process even more streamlined.

Over the next couple weeks, we’ll gradually be adding more testers to the system to ensure it works in a variety of environments. If you write about peer-reviewed research on your blog, send me an email (remove dashes!), and I’ll add you to the list of potential testers.

Comments

  1. #1 Alvin
    November 15, 2007

    Looking good! I especially like the inclusion of cited sources with the summary. You don’t see that too often; usually they’re hidden somewhere in small text endnotes…

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