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A revised introduction to Science 2.0

The following is a revised copy of a CC-BY-licensed blog post by Sönke Bartling and Ronald The that provides an introduction to Science 2.0. I have a number of comments and thought the best way to present them is to improve on their draft (keeping their style and flow if possible), rather than starting yet another blog post on the matter. While I am working on the text, this sentence will remain in the header, and some temporary notes will be labeled "[DM]". Of course, you are welcome to join in with further improvements.

Soenke BartlingJan 7, 2011 (last modified on Jan 18, 2011)2 comments527 views

Science, for the most part, is unaware of the existence of Web 2.0. Instead, a "legacy gap” exists. Current research policies, laws, culture and impact measurement methods deter scientists from adopting Web 2.0.  This in turn prevents scientists from utilizing the complete benefits of the internet and the interactive culture that evolves with it.

In the following, four key concepts are being identified that – once put into practice – will provide numerous opportunities to overcome this legacy gap and help to ensure that the future of science – Science 2.0 – will be to the benefit of us all.

By Sönke Bartling and Ronald The

 

Introduction

What on Earth is Science 2.0?: Simply put, the term "Science 2.0" is an adaptation of the term "Web 2.0" that refers to the interactive generation and modification of scientific contents on the World Wide Web (Ref. 1-4)[DM: such bulk citations are rather useless, especially if only listed at the end; shall be replaced by appropriate direct links]. It is a revolution in the world of scientific communication and publishing. On a broad scale, it is a cultural and ideological movement set in motion by the use of Web 2.0.  It will change the way scientists think about authorship, data, copyright and content in a way that is compatible with Web 2.0. This is fundamental, as science is vital to our well-being, and for that reason, we all share a common interest in its advancement.

(For different conceptions of the term Science 2.0 see Ref. 5)

So, yes, I know what Web 2.0 is... Web 2.0 does not mark a distinct development or a new feature, but instead a transition from static content presentation that is received by a passive internet user, to a more dynamic, interactive internet experience (Ref. 6). These types of exchanges have already and continue to have a profound impact on society.  Many believe that we are just at the start of this evolution.

At the same token, any massive change is not without risk, and society, the public and private decision-makers are often overwhelmed by these developments and their potential implications. However, as awareness of the benefits and our knowledge of the concept increases, more and more people will actively contribute to Web 2.0 and hence Science 2.0. Eventually Web 2.0 will be a new culture which will question the current copyrights and philosophies with regard to content.

But what about Science?: Currently science, predominantly, advances in isolation of Web 2.0.  Despite acceptance of recent innovations as online social networks, open access journals, dynamic lab books, science remains moored in Web 1.0. However, it is almost certain that at some point in the future we will be able to look back and realize that science – as all parts of our life - are largely influenced by Web 2.0 and its associated philosophies. The question that remains is when this transition will take place? How? What for?, By whom and to whose advantage?

Transitions take time.  It’s an involved cultural, political and structural process. Let’s call this phenomenon the "legacy gap". 

Publications within modern day science are an excellent example of the legacy gap. The time delay to adopt new publications that are enabled, but do not yet play a relevant role within science vividly demonstrates this point (Fig. 1). 

 Figure 1: The legacy gap

 

Figure 1: The legacy gap between availability of web 2.0 methods and its adaptation within science - demonstrated using a key feature of science – publishing.

 

Let´s face it, we are in the gap.  Let´s find a way out of it! Below are four key concepts identified within Science 2.0. All of them must evolve simultaneously and are essential for the future of radically improved science communication that enables the features of Web 2.0 to be fully available and viable for scientists.

Obviously, in this transition process, observers and critics from both inside and outside of science are very important and key to helping science identify critical roadblocks, dangers and pitfalls. However, criticism should not preclude adaptation and should never cause blind conservatism. All who are involved in science and scientific publishing need to collaborate to drive this development in a direction that would be best for science.

The authors gained knowledge of Science 2.0 through discussions via blogs and tweets.  They gained understanding through participation in meetings and by reviewing the current literature extensively. Both like to purpose how Science 2.0 may influence science, science publications, scientist´s communication, patenting, and founding of science and science politics.

Four pillars of Science 2.0

There are four key concepts within Science 2.0 (Fig. 2). While they all have already been described, their interdependency has only been partially eluted to.  Their interaction and co integration is key to the successful development of Science 2.0.  In seclusion, one of the four pillars is of no value. Furthermore, for the sake of the clarity of this publication, current implementations with their special procedural advantages and disadvantages will not be discussed.

 

Four pillars of Science 2.0 

Figure 2: Four key concepts of Science 2.0. All four have to be realized more or less simultaneously, because one pillar is only useful if all three others are available.

 

I. Unique Research Identifier

A unique research identity is the most basic concept of the four pillars. By moving away from standard publications towards Science 2.0, it is essential to have a means of identifying a researcher non-ambiguously (Ref. 7). Currently, names alone are vague and can lead to confusion. A unique research identifier could be used to “sign” all  publications, regardless whether they are tweets, blogs, classic static publications, comments, discussions or publications 2.0.  Further, it can be used to gather publications inclusively for a particular researcher and can be used to assess his or her impact on research, including novel impact measurement methods. A unique researcher identifier represents the researcher and his or her credibility within the scientific community.

II. Online Profile

An online profile of a researcher (e.g. as in an online social network for scientists) serves to portray the researcher online. This is where you can find information pertaining to the researcher, including research activity, publications, comments, etc. which will be easily accessible. The online profile is connected with the research identifier as well links to publications, CV and impact metrics. Connections to fellow researchers and their ongoing work are also provided.

III. Publication 2.0: Blogs, dynamic publication formats and open data

Publications 1.0 within Science 1.0 are papers, abstracts, talks, books (Fig. 4). Common to all these forms of publications is that scientists publish their research only in a rich, “final” version (Fig. 3) at the end or near the end of a project. Before that time usually nothing is publicly available and significant effort is made to protect and guard the data until is has been released. The consequence of doing so is that the research and updates are not presented to the interested audience in a timely manner.  In addition, collaboration beyond the research group is difficult if not impossible. New results, potential ideas, and input from the scientific community is delayed until a final published abstract or a full paper is available. If the results are negative often no publication is written since the effort to write a paper is high and in case of negative results it is often not worthwhile.

 

 

Figure 3: Publication culture Science 1.0 vs Science 2.0

 

Figure 3: Publication culture in Science 1.0 and Science 2.0. In Science 1.0 publication threshold is high, which causes lots of unpublished data (loss) and publication delay.

 

In Science 1.0 there are fundamental reasons for this behavior. Early publications in any form less than a final publication usually destroys the novelty of a research finding and with it the chance to publish research in an accepted and credited way. Similarly, ideas, sparks, small findings, additions to publications, remarks and so on usually have no adequate and honored way to become published.  Therefore scientists usually keep ideas or comments for themselves rather than contributing to the potential success of a colleague scientist, always afraid of not being appropriately acknowledged.

 Figure 4: Publication 1.0

 

Figure 4: Publications 1.0 in Science 1.0. A high publication threshold exists, because publications have to be “complete” and “final”.

 

In Science 2.0 a variety of forms of publications are accepted and can contribute to the reputation of a scientist (Fig. 5). The scientist is in a safe haven where he/she can share research results, ideas and conclusion as they occur, knowing that the time, name of the researcher and potential impact is forever associated with it. This promotes collaboration and increases the productivity of science as a whole. These Science 2.0 publications will co-exist with established publication forms as well.

 

Figure 5: Publication 2.0

 

Figure 5: Publication 1 & 2 in Science 2.0: The Web 2.0 enabled lots of new, low threshold fast and dynamic publication methods.

 

The Publication 2.0 form is free and thought-provoking. It includes updates to wikis or comments to publication 1.0. as well as contributions to databases as the genome or chemical structure databases  (Open data). Obviously small blogs, tweets or discussions are not a concise publication form and therefore full publications (papers, books, abstracts) still have an important role in Science 2.0.

So the following statements apply to Publications 2.0:

·      Ideas that have been published in form of tweets might be referenced to in later, full paper publications.

·      Final papers may be written online, open viewable for all scientists as the research results occur – clearly, writings can be marked as preliminary.

·      Recent versions of Publications 2.0 will be accessible through the history function in wikis. Besides historical relevance they have to be available for impact measurement of earlier research.

·      Negative research results may remain published in less structured format with concluding remarks in e.g. a blog. At least - in contrast to Science 1.0 - they are published, and other scientists may find ways to overcome the issues.

It can be assumed that novel publication formats will reduce the amount of unpublished data, the amount of repeated experiments and will facilitate the interaction of scientists. The impact on science is endless.

IV. New impact factor measurements

Measuring the scientific impact of research is very difficult and even more so when career decisions and research funding is dependent on it. Impact measurement methods weigh vary largely within the scientific disciplines. There exists a tendency to employ quantifiable impact measurements based on hard metrics.

Currently, the most famous of these instruments is the journal impact factor and its derivatives. The journal impact factor assigns an impact factor to a journal and every publication that is published within the journal is accounted with that impact factor. The journal impact factor is in contrast to publication based impact factors, which is calculated for every single publication. The assumed advantage of a journal based impact factor is that is has a fore-seen quality. Meaning, research published in a high-ranked journal will most likely have a great impact on research – a doubtable conclusion.

Currently, a privately owned company calculates the journal impact factor and keeps the copyright on calculated impact factors. If all research publications were open, many different providers could easily calculate impact factors.

The journal impact factor developed around traditional publication concepts. It is certainly not a method that can be used to assess the quality of Publications 2.0. In Science 2.0 many different impact quality measurements need to be established and calculated (Ref. 8). It is important to understand that there is no fundamental reason whatsoever to adhere to a journal impact factor system. E.g. its fore-seeing quality can easily be simulated by online “journals” – certain publications can be grouped to simulate an edition of a journal – selection of the articles can be done by experienced scientists which resemble a current editorial board including reviewers.

Besides citations, which are the basis for current impact factor calculations, many different measurements may be the basis for new impact measurements. The advantages and disadvantages of new impact measurements have to be discussed openly and have to evolve with the past experiences. Also Science 2.0 impact factor measurements allow for manipulations and limitations similar to the current journal impact factors. However, Science 2.0 existing as a vivid culture of discussion and criticism  will lead to the eventual development of meaningful impact measurements.  This is in contrast to a monolithic, fixed system that prevails in Science 1.0.

Conclusions

So what ? Yes, Science 2.0 will happen. The legacy gap will be bridged one day. The question remains : How fast we want to make this happen, and how fast can we make this happen? The four pillars as discussed will be the foundation of Science 2.0. This decade could become the decade of Science 2.0.

Get started!

 

Acknowledgement:

Thanx to Vershalee Shukla & Nick Trautmann for very fruitful discussions.

 

References:

1. Science 2.0 (change will happen...)

2. Science 2.0: Great New Tool, or Great Risk?: Scientific American.

3. Science 2.0 « O'Really?

4. Science 2.0/Brainstorming - OpenWetWare.

5. MSCI 2010 W.

6. What Is Web 2.0 - O'Reilly Media.

7. Lang, A. & Lang, E. Do we need a Unique Scientist ID for publications in biomedicine? Biomedical Digital Libraries 2,  (2005).

8. Scientometrics 2.0.

 

 

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License

All infographics can be found powerpoint ready in the file section of the group Science 2.0 & Publication 2.0


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