Saturday, March 22, 2014

Scientific Communication Before and After Networked Science


In recent years online platforms have created new ways for scientist to share and communicate about their work. Similarly new advancements in digitization and open access publishing have changed how scientific journals publish and deliver their material. “Yet the primary vehicle for the formal publication of results, the scientific article, has been much slower to alter in format” (Carey, 2013, p. 344).  This article discusses the function and the development of formal scientific communication. It also discusses the development and function of informal scientific communication.

History of Scientific Journals/Articles:
The development of the scientific journal can be traced back to the Philosophical Transactions published by the Royal Society. Before the development of scientific journals, scientists found little value and reward in sharing their information. Slowly scientists started sharing their information and publishing their work. Scientific journals as a form of communications have been stable and unchanged for many decades. It has only been recently that they have changed in format and distribution. “Fundamental change came first through the creation of e-journals, followed by the rise of open access publishing” (Carey, 2013, p. 346). The development of the scientific article has also changed. In the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries scientific experiments were conducted by gentlemen of means and were centered on that person. “...The author-centered approach gradually gave way to objective-center research with greater emphasis on the methodology and conduct of experiments and greater use of an agentless passive voice” (Carey, 2013, p.357). This led into the format that we used today.

Open Access/Open Science and Informal Communication in the Science Community Today:
Open access allows scientist and the public to have unrestricted access to information and more chance at discovery. Informal communications, such as wikis, blogs, e-books, etc, are also being utilized by many people in the science field. There are also several new computer programs that are allowing scientists to share information and scientists are seeing the benefit to sharing their work. “By enabling researchers to circulate information, including hypotheses, raw data, or experimental technique  and results, open science is changing how scholars work and share the results of that work” (Carey, 2013, p.351). Although, there are several benefits to the open access and open science format, there are drawbacks as well. Formal journals allow for people within academia to get recognition, grants or tenure and many people in academia are hesitant about using such formats. There are concerns about long term permanence with the open access format.

The future of information sharing is unclear. Will informal communication such as wikis rival scientific journals? Will open science and open access reach its potential?  “In the end, scientist themselves will have to reach consensus on the form of communication appropriate to the age in which they work and live, as they did when journals first emerged nearly 350 years ago” (Carey, 2013, p.304).

I have also listed several articles that are similar that people might find interesting.

Putnam, L. (2011). The changing role of blogs in science information dissemination. Issues in Science and Technology Librarianship, 65.

Luce, R., & Giacomo, M. D. (2004). Personalized and collaborative digital library capabilities: responding to the changing nature of scientific research. Science & Technology Libraries, 24(1-2), 135-152.

Some of the jargon used was not explained clearly enough for me. Below are lists of links that will help explain some jargon.

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