Research paper 2.0 – Part 4 – Summary

February 23, 2009 at 3:25 am Leave a comment

In my three recent posts I have expounded on what I think is the way scientific publications should look and feel like in the 21st century (Part1, Part2, Part3). So is there a take home message? I believe there is.

Looking back at my posts, I realized that all this babbling can be boiled down to several key properties of Research Paper 2.0 which distinguish it from most instances of electronic scientific publishing at this time:

  • Archivability. Libraries, as well as readers, should be able to keep a copy of the whole paper for themselves, just like they used to do with the dead-tree version of the journal. That is why I postulated that both supplementary information, as well as multimedia ought to be embedded (or at least embeddable on request) in the pdf files of the paper.
  • Interactivity. The expectation of a 21st-century user is that the scientific paper should remain dynamic and sensitive to reader input. This means on one hand real-time reader comments, and on the other hand interactive data presentation formats, such as 3D images I talked about in Part 3.
  • Flexibility. Research paper 2.0 should be able to cope with the various types of data presented within and should be capable of displaying each dataset in the most optimal manner. This may, and in a lot of cases will, simply mean a bar graph or a scatter plot, but sometimes a movie clip or a scalable 3D model will do a much better job of illustrating the data.
  • Accessibility. I have not talked about this property in much depth in my previous posts, but I think that access to the most current literature is key for doing any kind of meaningful science. Coming from a developing country I have experienced first-hand what it means to not have access to scientific literature on demand. Hopefully, the PLOS business model will prove sustainable in the long run and we will see more open access journals emerge and gain in popularity.

Despite all the technological advances, we should, however, not forget that the main purpose of the research paper, no matter whether 1.0 or 2.0 is to present data and ideas, so the property of simple readability ought to take precedence over all of the above. Newer is not always better, no matter how cool it looks.

Finally, I am sure that there are a lot more important things overdue for change in scientific publishing that I simply missed in my mini-series. Anything pisses you off in the current state of affairs? Any ideas for Research paper 2.1? Please chime in with your comments!

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Entry filed under: Computers in science, Grantsmanship and biomedical writing. Tags: , , .

Way to go ORI!!! Promises and obstacles of open access science – Thus Spake John Wilbanks

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