August 26, 2011
June 22, 2010
cross posting from DrugMonkey at Scienceblogs:
I have occasionally mentioned that I really like the way that Nature Publishing Group (NPG) have promoted the online discussion of scientific research articles. After all, the publication of an article is merely the starting point and the authors’ interpretations of their data are only part of a larger set. Science proceeds best when we collaborate with our data, our ideas, our interpretations and our conclusions. Internet technologies can assist with this process. Indeed, these technologies already are assisting and have been doing so for some time. How many times in the last month have you used email to discuss a figure or a paper with a colleague? A ubiquitous phenomenon, is it not? Yeah, well when I started graduate school there was no email*.
I have also, I confess, waxed slightly critical of the execution of online paper discussion. Although I mostly bash NPG because they leave so much tasty chum lying in the water, I am generally critical; PLoS hasn’t really managed to do much better than the NPG titles when it comes to consistent online discussion.
Science blogs are slightly better at generating robust discussion of an article which in some cases feels a little more like journal club. This latter is a touchstone target for this behavior, IMNSHO. Science blogs suffer, however, from a lack of focus and a lack of comprehensive coverage. Researchblogging.org is a focal portal to select the journal article discussions out from the cacophony of a typical blog but again, it tends to suffer from coverage issues. The audience is presumed to be a general audience by most science bloggers and therefore they tend to select topics of general interest.
This brings me to a new internet creation: The Third Reviewer
The first thing you will notice is the list of journals which publish scientific articles in the neurosciences in the tabs at the top. The site grabs a Table of Contents feed and lists each article as a commentable link/entry. The comprehensive coverage problem is solved.
The site allows anonymous commenting. This is huge. It solves what I think is the major problem with the approach of publishing houses to this topic. Like it or not, people are less likely to openly comment on papers in a way that could come back to nail them. Yes, even if they are totally and completely polite, their criticism is on the up and up and 80% of the field agrees with it.
The snooty nosed types allege that anonymous commenting will make such an effort descend into meaningless drivel, ad hominem attacks and nastiness. Those of us who actually discuss papers in online venues that permit anonymous commenting allege that such risks are vastly overblown and that a light hand of moderation, plus social tone-setting, takes care of any problems that might arise.
The Third Reviewer will test these competing hypotheses. And you know I’m excited about that!
*yes, it had been developed but it was not in widespread academic use at that point.
N.b. Tragically, the owners of the movie Downfall have gone after many of the YouTube mashups, including the one from which “The Third Reviewer” derives. Has anyone seen it pop up on another host?
February 25, 2009
An off-hand comment placed elsewhere (hmm, major drawback with the iPhone wordpress app is the usual Achilles heel of no cut, copy or paste features; update, here it is) has me thinking about citation practices. Everybody slants the old cites, right? Tell me you at least prioritize your own? But also those of your homies…wait. Which “homies”? Friends, department-mates, Univ. Colleagues? How about good old jingoistic nationalism?
January 22, 2008
DM, I’m looking in your direction. Anyway, Chris Rowan of Highly Allochthonous has a bit on the new Nature Geophysics journal. For the usual bioscience audience around these parts, I think you will see some familiar themes emerge and one comment that goes a bit off the path: Read the rest of this entry »
January 9, 2008
From the Maunsell editorial:
In response to the trend to freer access, The Journal of Neuroscience will now offer an Open Choice option for articles submitted on or after January 1, 2008. By paying a fee, authors can have their articles freely available on the Journal’s website as soon as they are published. The fee is currently $1,250 for a Brief Communications article and $2,500 for a regular article. These sums are the minimum required to cover the costs of reviewing, composing, and publishing articles.
January 2, 2008
The OpenAccess Nozdrul are celebrating the Open Access language in a recent Congressional appropriations bill (which Bush has signed into law) requiring NIH funded researchers to place their manuscripts into the PubMed Central (PMC) repository for all to see. The pertinent section of this new law: Read the rest of this entry »
December 21, 2007
December 20, 2007
December 13, 2007
December 11, 2007
Cognitive Daily tips us to Brain in a Vat on the Wren et al. survey of “importance” of authorship position, a dissection of authorships in a tenure case from Strange Fruit and Neurotopia v2.0. A comment to Cog Daily tips us to a relevant phd comic. Although I think most of the readers here are MWE&G fans, writedit had this one on surprise authorship awhile ago. For those that didn’t catch it, Digital Bio on different field practices in authorship from a bit ago as well.
November 30, 2007
A little discussion over at Young Female Scientist reminded me of the suggestion in a Nature editorial that this summer’s RFI from the NIH to solicit input on the peer review and grant funding process drummed up about 2,000 responses.[Update 12/05/07: This ppt from Tabak claims about 2600 responses to the RFI.]
Going by the usual ratios that comments to blogs represent maybe 10% of readers at best, well, YFS alone must have a fairly large population of disgruntled grad students and postdocs reading her blog. The number of ScienceWoman, Female Science Professor and similar blogs must have another huge population of women scientists who have at least some objections to the WayThingsAreDone in NIH land. Read the rest of this entry »
November 19, 2007
Noah Grey of Action Potential has a good discussion going on the role of the “confidential comments to the Editor” box in the peer review of scientific manuscripts. The lure is as follows:
At the PubMed Plus leadership conference this past June, sponsored by the Society for Neuroscience, the creation of a Neuroscience Peer Review Consortium was proposed. Here is a message from SfN president David Van Essen describing the vision for this new entity:
After an article is rejected by one journal and authors are ready to submit a revised manuscript to another journal, they will have the opportunity and the option to request that the reviews from the first journal be passed directly to the new journal (assuming that both journals are part of the consortium). In many cases, the second journal will be able to reach a decision faster and more efficiently, thereby benefiting authors as well as the overly stressed manuscript reviewing system.
This revolutionary proposal is now a reality, at least for a trial run from January to December 2008.
Go join the discussion it looks interesting. Read the rest of this entry »
November 15, 2007
A recent post soliciting Open Laboratory 2007 nomination from Noah Grey of Action Potential Blog reminded me of a little commentary exchange that we were having over a post on “paranoia in research“. Inexplicably I let him get in the last word. Fortunately an opportunity presents itself to continue the discussion. Read the rest of this entry »
November 9, 2007
A little discussion has been going on at MWE&G over the topic of materials sharing. To be very general about it [since, it turns out we write at the high school level around here; h/t], once a scientist has published a paper using a particular set of methods, they are expected to help others to conduct experiments in the same area because this is how science best advances. Through replication and extension of a given finding to move on toward new discoveries. In some areas of science this may simply be a professional expectation to “help”, i.e. to provide advice and feedback on experimental minutia and other things which are not obvious from the paper’s Materials and Methods section. In addition, there is an expectation that when unique tangible resources are required, the laboratory which has published the paper will go to a reasonable effort to provide resources upon request. This is where things get tricky. Read the rest of this entry »
October 19, 2007
A reader dropped the blog an email note which, among other things, was interested in a discussion of the concept of “least publishable unit”or LPU.
Apparently this concept is popular enough that Wikipedia has an entry on the “LPU“:
In academic publishing, the least publishable unit (LPU) is the smallest amount of information that can generate a publication in a peer-reviewed journal. The term is often used as a joking, ironic, or sometimes derogatory reference to the strategy of pursuing the greatest quantity of publications at the expense of their quality. … There is no consensus among academics about whether people should seek to make their publications least publishable units.