What ideas are shaping scientific publishing?

And where should we be looking for them? Discuss....

Thumb emma green
May 13, 2015

For those of us pondering this question, the Royal Society recently asked science writer Michael Nielsen just that.

He starts out with 'Whoa Nelly!' to those of us who jump straight in to looking towards the likes of publishers, scientists and policy members. Instead, Michael believes we should be looking towards two particular groups.

The first is user interface designers. And not just the people creating beautiful reflections of content on screen. He says go beyond that: look at the designers who are creating new ways represent knowledge. Solving puzzles and answering questions by inventing new ways of interconnecting, layering, manipulating what we already know and continue to discover.

The second group is the designers of group experiences. Not the Butlin's holiday camp 'experience'. Think more a HintHunt game experience, where you are locked in a room with a group of people and have to work together to solve puzzles and ultimately to escape. This sort of collective intelligence is not a new concept (we've been working in 'intelligent' groups since close to the dawn of time). What is new, however, is how media is being designed to take advantage of this collection of peer-to-peer, expert-to-expert knowledge exchange.

So this is great! The future will play host to a multitude of media types and technologies that scientists will use according to what fits with their subject area and where they are in their research cycle. We have brilliant minds creating amazing tools for us to integrate our knowledge into a communal hub. I want to be part of THAT!

But hang on... What if no-one uses these tools? It is not just the case of if you build it, they will come. If the new ideas, designs, tools are not integrated into scientific research cycles they may as well not exist.

So, how do we make sure they are part of the research story? There has to be incentive. Moral obligation is one thing, but funding drives research, like it or not. Journals exist because the scientists publishing in them are incentivised to do so by the citations they will receive. More citations roughly (very roughly) translates to more funding.

So, what do we need to do for these new 'ideas' to really shape the future of scientific publishing? We have to embrace new models of quantifying the value of exchanging knowledge. And we have to do it collectively.

What's your view? Comment below or send me a message to let me know...

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Emma Green

Director, Delta Think

My focus is mainly (but not exclusively) on the STM market, looking at ways in which Zapnito can help support and develop STM publishing business models. I trained as a scientist in developmental genetics at Newcastle university, received my postgraduate degree from University of East Anglia, and spent three years at Brown University in the US. I have almost 20 years' experience in STM publishing, having worked for Springer and then Nature Publishing Group, in roles including Associate Publisher for the physical science journals and Head of Digital Tools and Services. I have two young boys, am a governor at their school, and I teach five year olds to learn to read.

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