After reading this article on the Guardian introducing it as the Facebook for professors, postdocs and PhDers in the sciences, I decided to spend some minutes and creating an identity on Nature Network. Here is my profile on Nature Network.The goal is to get people from different institutions and different research fields to talk to one another about the thing they have in common: a love of science. Check the flash quick tour video.
The article quotes Frank Norman saying
One of the nice things is the absence of markers to indicate status. When you read a contribution, you don’t know whether it is from a professor or a student, you just judge it by whether it makes sense.
It is interesting how Guardian stresses this “democratic” aspect of the Web, very wikipedian, very everyone-is-an-expert. It obviously totally resonates with me. In fact, on the other hand of the scope
One lecturer, who does not want to be named, says the scientific community is concerned that Nature Network and other Facebook-style academic communications could be “dangerous” because comments are not peer-reviewed.
Interestingly the more everything we do becomes digital, the more it seems everyone is concerned in measuring it:
Dr Timo Hannay, director of web publishing at Nature Publishing Group, predicts that scientists who post comments, blogs and data from experiments on sites like Nature Network will eventually be allowed to count these as part of their research output. “There should be a way of measuring the impact of a scientist who posts comments on a site like Nature Network. These could be added to their publishing record”.
And Matt Brown adds
Our vision for Nature Network is that every scientist in the world will have a personal profile on the site. Likeminded people and potential collaborators could then be easily found through a tagging system. Ideas can be discussed in the forums. Who knows, many years from now, traditional activities such as writing an academic paper could be peer-reviewed online.
And the article closes with the usual oh-gosh-some-more-content-to-monitor information overload fear:
Some see it another way. “If sites like these can increase awareness of research and provide easier ways to forge collaborative links, that is good,” says Brown. “If they provide more text that needs to be read, digested and responded to, that might not be so good.
By the way, you can check my profile on Nature Network and, if you are in there as well and read this, connect to me, friend me, or do how-they-call-it-on-Nature to me. I’m waiting. Somehow.
UPDATE: I created a group called “Trust Research” on Nature. Join in.
That comment about peer-reviewed made by the lecturer is odd, perhaps he or she had never visited the network? The network is not for original scientific research papers, it is a social site for discussion of results. Nothing on the network “counts” as a scientific publication. So why would it be useful to have it peer-reviewed?
When you submit your work to a journal, of course peer-review is appropriate. But discussing results on a website? Not sure what would be the advantage? On the other hand, I can see the advantage of floating ideas, interpretations, asking questions, etc, in a forum where others can help to develop and strengthen them.
I guess everything is (becoming) borderline: what if you just post on the forum about a great new discovery you made, or maybe the proof that P!=NP?
And also there is the fact that “Dr Timo Hannay, director of web publishing at Nature Publishing Group, predicts that scientists who post comments, blogs and data from experiments on sites like Nature Network will eventually be allowed to count these as part of their research output. â€œThere should be a way of measuring the impact of a scientist who posts comments on a site like Nature Network. These could be added to their publishing recordâ€.”
I’m totally for open publishing but I can see where the concerns are coming. Everything is moving much faster than 20 years ago, when the lecturer probably started lecturing …
Yes, I agree with you, Paolo, that these social sites are evolving and that the “preprint server” as well as social networks and blogs will come into play as “counting” for people’s careers/cvs (I imagine some people are already providing urls to their web social projects and interactions in a special section of their cv. ). This isn’t a particularly new concept, though, as before (and after!) web 2.0 people do all kinds of informal-social work such as outreach, which they put on their cvs (presumably).
It will be a bit of a challenge to “formalise” these in the way that a “publication” is formalised. People can now archive their lectures and so on on Nature Precedings and get doi or handle, so perhaps that will be one way. Journal clubs are another — these can now be archived as online groups on Nature Network or other science publisher sponsored site, so that if you feel you’ve done a particularly good one and had some stimulating discussion and analysis, you can upload that online and refer to that in your cv. I expect there are lots of clever ways of doing things like this (eg providing your ranking from postgenomic in your cv)
I’ve been in scientific publishing for more than 20 years: when I started there was no email, internet or even fax machine. But I can evolve with the times ;-)
Hi Maxine! I agree with you, we have tumultuous times ahead of us. You could choose to perceive them as a theat or as an opportunity. I think I’ll stick with the second option … at least until I get a Nobel Prize ;-)
And I think the entire will less and less formalized, a more local, more subjective reputation economy, “everybody will be famous for 15 people”-like …
I’m sure Charles Darwin would agree with you, Paolo (the key to survival is adaptation to change) ;-)
Incidentally, you may be part of these already but there are some interesting discussions going on (eg Peter Murray Rust’s blog) about numbers of downloads (lots) vs formal cites (few) and quality metrics. Publishers including NPG are involved in a pilot project (forget the name of the organisation coordinating this, sorry) to look at possibilities of using downloads or other reader data as a “metric”.
If you go to Peter Murray Rust’s blog at
you will find plenty of discussion there.
The particular post to which I was referring above is:
Thanks a lot for the links! Interesting discussion and very needed in the open I think. Thanks.