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Imagine if the very foundation of cutting edge research science could be streamlined using the real-time, online blogging community model powered by the open source format familiar to all of us? Sci-blogger and friend Coturnix has been tasked to develop the community aspect of this idea, and he’s asking for scientists and science buffs alike to see if that traditional peer review process can benefit from our novel methods at the Public Library of Science (PLoS). "PLoS is a nonprofit organization of scientists and physicians committed to making the world's scientific and medical literature a freely available public resource. ... Everything we publish is freely available online for you to read, download, copy, distribute, and use (with attribution) ..." Coturnix is committed to helping you with any technical support or other issues/questions you may have. He can be contacted directly at coturnix-at-gmail-dot-com. Some background:

While scientists are secretive and shy by training, they are still people. The non-blogging scientists may have very high thresholds, but they do have thresholds! If they see a number of comments there and see something erroneous posted there, they will post a rebuttal, I hope. I need you - the bloggers - to bring the commenting threads up to the threshold levels at which non-blogging scientists will start kicking in. Then, hopefully, there will be a snowball effect ... read the rest

  • July 14, 2007 is the cutoff for reserving a ticket to YearlyKos Convention 2007. On behalf of the entire YKC 07 volunteer staff, we'd like to thank you for your heartfelt generosity, commitment, and encouragement. You donated hard-earned money, precious time, and expertise, often while on a tight budget and juggling two jobs and a family. That some of you did so knowing you could not attend brings tears of both pride and admiration to our eyes. The volunteers managing the event have made it their number one priority to make the most efficient use of those resources, and their paramount goal is to produce a convention tailored not to the many VIPs and politicians, but specifically customized to serve your interests above all else. In our view, you are each and everyone a pioneer, a patriot, and a visionary. To be counted among you and entrusted with the grave responsibility you have made possible, is quite simply the greatest honor we have ever held.
  • I sadly note that my friend, science blogger Lindsey Beyerstein, lost her father last week. Barry L. Beyerstein, 'was a scholar, an activist, and a devoted family man who believed in the power of reason, compassion, and humility.' In my early days, before I was allowed to contribute to UTI and Daily Kos, Lindsey provided me with encouragement, advice, and support. She always took time to help me with anything I asked of her. I’m lucky to count her among my mentors. Lindsey credits her father for nurturing many of her passions. Thus he touched many lives, and through his daughter I was fortunate to be one of the lives he touched.

Originally posted to Daily Kos on Sat Jul 07, 2007 at 02:24 AM PDT.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Happy Saturday! (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    jakbeau, GreyHawk, paul2port, CTLiberal, carver

    About a week from now we plan to have more announcements, and as soon as the schedule is finalized, we will perhaps feature some panels/speakers and other events such as book signings, key note speakers, parties and other get together. One thing I would like stress right here in comments: YKC 07 is need for any last minute donations you can make. Many of you have stepped up to the plate, and we thank you -- it means far more than you can imagine. But for those who are stretched financially -- no doubt in part due to the conservative economy benefiting primarily the mega-rich -- and who feel their modest contribution would be meaningless, any amount no matter how small, ten dollars, five dollars, even one dollar; all are greatly appreciated. Please donate any amount you can if possible.

    Also, we realize that the cost of accommodations is a real obstacle for some of you. If indeed I'm able to secure a room at the McCormick for Thurs and Friday evening (Still a big IF at this point), and assuming we're within fire codes and consistent with Hotel Policy (Another big assumption), I'm willing to share floor space and/or the other side of my bed to a few attendees who are on a super tight budget at no cost or obligation. sndwho vould oherwise not afford it.  

    Read UTI, your free thought forum

    by DarkSyde on Sat Jul 07, 2007 at 02:24:56 AM PDT

    •  That's a great idea. (0+ / 0-)


      by Intercaust on Sat Jul 07, 2007 at 04:13:17 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  open-source pharmacology (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      wishingwell, Brian A

      As a means of directing development effort toward urgently-needed medicines that are not of economic value to Big Pharma, and also as a means of establishing a competitive challenge to Big Pharma, how about an open-source pharmacology movement?

      The relevant work could be performed in colleges and universities, with their lab facilities and means of support (both intentional and as byproducts of other supported programs).  A given project might be started by a faculty member and one or more students, and continued by subsequent students and in conjunction with other faculty in the same or different departments, or even in other colleges and universities.  

      Results could be published online, along with the details of how specific compounds can be created and duplicated in other labs.  

      Animal model and human trials could be conducted likewise, to make compounds ready for FDA approval.  

      The resulting approved medicines would then be available as generics under a creative commons license.  And while Big Pharma companies might be slow to adopt them, there is clearly room for competing companies or even new startups to do so.  Thus the new medicines could become available to the public at reasonable cost from the beginning, and without the burden of Big Pharma R&D costs and IP limitations.  

      What do y'all think?

      •  This sounds great! (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        wishingwell, G2geek

        This is an excellent idea, because university labs tend to have their hearts in the right place with regards to this type of research.  Two changes you would need to make to get this sort of idea to work:

        1. MUCH MORE MONEY FROM THE NIH or another funding source, as compound screening and testing is unbelievably expensive (a lab I rotated in undertook a relatively modest compound screen which cost them $500K)
        1. Better communication between MDs and PhDs.  In order to circumvent Big Pharma and move these compounds from the research phase to the testing phase, we need better cooperation between researchers and medical doctors.  In general right now, there are a few points of intersection but there could be much more cooperation, and hopefully mechanisms could be put in place to streamline this sort of cooperation

        "Believe nothing, no matter where you read it, or who said it... unless it agrees with your own reason and your own common sense." -The Buddha

        by Brian A on Sat Jul 07, 2007 at 05:19:22 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  good ideas; and how to start... (0+ / 0-)

          Re. funding sources:  

          I see a multitude of possible sources here, and the more the better in order to maintain independence.

          NIH is a good one, though in the present climate I suspect they would have a hard time providing funds for anything concerning contraceptives, which are a vital need in order to achieve a sustainable population level and avoid the worst of the downside ecological scenarios.  (Measures to assure NIH's scientific independence also needed here.)

          Bill Gates.  I'm serious.  Regardless of what one might think about Microsoft itself (disclosure: I'm cross-platform: Mac, Win, BSD), the fact is that Bill Gates is 100% seriously committed to funding urgent health needs.  The Gates Foundation has provided literally billions of dollars to various health-related projects around the world.  This would fit well within their framework of commitments.  

          Other private foundations:  For example the Guttmacher Institute for contraceptive R&D.  The various foundations that are dedicated to finding cures for specific illnesses.  Perhaps one or more new foundations developed for the specific purpose of funding open-source pharmacology.

          Communication with MDs:

          Start here: the "fee for service" practices.  These are doctors who have decided to return to the oldschool model where they are not involved with any forms of insurance but simply charge cash for primary care.  Thus their administrative costs are a small fraction of what's normal today, and thus they are not bound by insurance company interference in their practices.  While the criticism has been raised that this model is not a means of providing care for the truly poor, the fact is that it makes care accessible to a large chunk of the middle class that would otherwise go unserved (patients are urged to carry the lowest-cost health insurance plans for catastrophic coverage only).  

          Doctors who are engaged in this type of practice tend to be more concerned with providing direct care, less tolerant of layers of administrative bureaucracy, and tend to be somewhat iconoclastic if not overtly dissident with respect to the present healtcare "system."  Thus they would be more likely amendable to an unconventional approach to providing medicines to their patients.  

          If we were to start with these doctors first, we would gain access and "market share," sufficient to get the attention that would cause the concept to spread further.  

          I would be wary of starting first with clinics that serve exclusively or primarily various disadvantaged communities, as the advocates for those communities might believe (mistakenly) that they are being "used" as "guinea pigs."  If we start from the middle class, that will reduce this risk because the disadvantaged communities will see that the middle class has been serving as the "guinea pigs" and has obtained a desirable level of care as a result.

          After some significantly positive outcomes have been achieved, open-source medicines will be recognized as having equal standing with those developed via the present conventional channels, and will become mainstream-standardized, in much the same manner as open-source operating systems have done in the computer and information technology universe.


          So the question is, where to get started...?

  •  Its already heading this direction (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    DarkSyde, GreyHawk, paul2port

    ...check out is this not what you guys are heading towards????

    The thing with politicians is I wouldn't have suspicions if I saw their worst positions and their ugly underneath...

    by mstarr77 on Sat Jul 07, 2007 at 02:27:04 AM PDT

  •  PloS changes everything from here on out. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    jakbeau, GreyHawk, Desert Biologist

    Free access to new researcy, to anyone, anywhere.

    As does, IMO, Earth Portal and its associated sites. A peer-reviewed Wiki of current science.

  •  Darksyde -- PLoS rocks! Thanks for (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    paul2port, Desert Biologist

    posting about it.

    I'm going to put a blurb on ePluribus Media about it, too, to help get the word out.

    Condolensces to Ms. Beyerstein and her family over the loss of her father Barry.

    Never, never brave me, nor my fury tempt:
      Downy wings, but wroth they beat;
    Tempest even in reason's seat.

    by GreyHawk on Sat Jul 07, 2007 at 02:42:44 AM PDT

  •  The pros generally don't post (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    wishingwell, paul2port

    I belong to an international philosophy list and I have been disappointed in the professional community so far.  Generally they only show up to point to thier own publications.  And if you challenge them on a point they generally won't engage.  There are a few exceptions, but for the most part the professional philosophers stay off the internet discussions.  

    For me the most interesting part of the internet forum is not only the global participation, but the time factor.  With most philosophical publications, rebuttles, and responses to professional critisism in journals takes as much as 5 years.  Of course on internet list you are often forced to respond within hours (which is actually too short for a quality response).

    Of course a political blog is much different, but advanced discussions about science or philosophy need sometimes several months to reply.

    Also what is important is that the non-professional blogger or list participant needs to have a bridge to all tbe principle arguments that are at play. Otherwise these kinds of forums spin-out for years with manifold wanderings in different directions only to arrive at nearly the same point of ignorance from where they departed.

    So for me a community science forum must be prepared in stages.  First is to build a highly refined source of general information about a specific topic.

    Here is where a massive participation based framework can supply the community with a highly refined, and well ordered (and simplified) resource for good information.

    So for me the community should start with a basical outline that can be divided into an interactive mapping structure, where principle arguments can be presented and refined.

    When the basic outline becomes good enough to have an authority, then I think you will find the pros will start to participate.

    So basically first you will need to use the two advantages of the internet community (i.e. time, and the global reach of a participation based communtity) to compete with the professionals for authority before they will engage in the community.

  •  GLobe and Potential (0+ / 0-)

    Project Globe (started by Gore for kids) is a great example of how a bunch of caring amateurs can actually generate real data and do real science. I've often thought that this community would be very, very powerful that way. For example, no one has collected the actual data of how many votes were lost, spoiled and correlated it to the type of machine across the country. What it would take would be about 20,000 of us going physically to our local polling places to get the data. There are many more examples.

  •  Darksyde- (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    jakbeau, dmsilev, Tropical Depression

    For over a decade, virtually all papers in high energy physics have been submitted to the "arxiv".  This is completely open-source and available to anyone with internet access.  It was started by Paul Ginsparg at Los Alamos in the early 90's, and has since expanded to cover most other areas of physics (and now get NSF support).  It has close to half a million papers now.

    It is unrefereed (although moderated to remove clearly crank papers), but does include a link to the journal article when published.  So one can determine if the paper is of publishable quality by seeing if (within a few months of submission) it has a link to a respected journal.    Most practicing physicists use the arxiv much more than journals.  

    The advantage to the system, of course, is that it is completely free and open.  Given the outrageous cost (over $10,000/year in some cases) of some major physics journals, this allows people from poorer countries (and those without access to university libraries) the ability to see what the rest of us see.   Combining with an extraordinarily good searchable database (google "spires"), it has resulting in complete access for everyone.  In fact, most physics libraries are downsizing as paper journals become irrelevant.

    •  P.S. (0+ / 0-)

      The "arxiv" is not a blog, of course.  These are gradually starting up.  Cosmicvariance
      is one of the better ones. (Note, the first diary up right now deals with Scooter, and has nothing to do with science, but most of the diaries are aimed at professional scientists).

      It sometimes is hard, in a science blog, to prevent threads from being taken over by amateurs and crackpots.  In subject matters like cosmology/relativity/quantum mechanics, there are many more trolls (people who don't understand the basics of general relativity and quantum field theory) than professional scientists, and that makes maintaining a blog more difficult.  On Cosmicvariance, a superb diary aimed at such people is at

    •  Agreement - This is very far from a new idea (0+ / 0-)

      It's not entirely clear what's being proposed, but I agree with "science": scientists already use the internet quite freely.  Remember: the WWW was invented to help scientists in high energy physics collaborate with each other. We still use it for that.

      There are several modes of communication that scientists use.  This is from the viewpoint of an experimental particle physicist, but I think it carries the gist:

      • Scholarly articles.  There is very little place for blogging when you want to write a serious work. Why? Well, you need to be able to cite and be cited: who said what, when?  Blogging, wikis, and other 'live' documents aren't very good for this.   Attribution is the most important thing - both for our careers and so that academics don't wind up in schoolyard 'he said;she said; you scrubbed your site" stuff.
      • Public Relations / Outreach / Talking To Non-scientists. This is the sort of thing where a blog can be fun and helpful, but really just becomes a personal thing, not really involved in the science.   Blogging is only a small part of this, though.
      • Technical communication. In large projects (100+ collaborators) we often find the need for rapid, semi-formal communication. Often, this will be in the form of powerpoint slides and phone calls, or closed meetings.  This is basicaly what the Internet was built for: being able to put up a plot for your collegues to look at from anywhere.  However, this form of communication is basically closed, both because it tends to be highly specialized, and therefore inscruitable to others, and also because it must be kept secret.

      Secrecy? In science?

      Yes. Science proceeds only because we as scientists put our reputations on the line whenever we say anything of import.  We have to be prepared to back up everything we say with detailed evidence and description, and say what we mean precisely.  If an experiment or theory is only half-formed, then it is self-defeating to publish it too widely:

      • You might be wrong about something. Retractions are difficult and do not serve the truth. Much better to triple-check, get it right, and THEN publish.
      • Without careful, meticulous writing, people will misunderstand what you are saying.
      • Someone might read it and scoop you, doing a quick-and-dirty experiment or study before your well-thought-out one can be finished.

      Anyway, we already have tools that let us do the things we need to do. That isn't to say we can't profit from new ones (for example, Wikis are really good for documenting tools and technolgies that are changing rapidly) but it's not clear that making 'Daily Kosmology" will actually help anything.


  •  On Food and Cooking (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    paul2port, Tropical Depression

    I'm by no means a scientist, but I have been reading On Food and Cooking lately by Harold McGee, which explains the physical properties of all types of food. Right now I'm reading a 66 page chapter on milk and dairy products.
    It's pretty fascinating, and full of practical tips for the kitchen.
    I am going to recommend it to my uncle who likes to cook, and who is a physics professor.
    It is kind of the bible for people involved in "molecular gastronomy".
    Anybody else read that?

    I want to stand as close to the edge as I can without going over. Out on the edge you see all the kinds of things you can't see from the center. --Kurt Vonnegut

    by sadair on Sat Jul 07, 2007 at 04:31:46 AM PDT

  •  since it's a science thread (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    wishingwell, DarkSyde

    I'll pimp my marine life series diary again. It's part II about horseshoe crabs.

  •  Plos does seem to be working... reduce the cost! (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    DarkSyde, Tropical Depression

    I like the idea of Plos (though my Principal Investigator won't let anyone in his lab submit to it because he's worried about lack of exposure), and I think the core problem with the journal process right now is how expensive they are.  You can't currently support a more "open-source" model when an issue of Cell costs $30.  The solution?  Ditch all printed copies of these journals and go completely online (this already seems to be happening...)  This would reduce the amount of money it costs for a given journal to publish and might encourage more participation and more sharing of information.

    Darksyde, I do have one question for you... you talk a little about making scientific literature freely available... this sounds like a great idea, but how much would it help?  Papers published in biomedical and scientific journals like PLOS are written at a level that the general public wouldn't understand them anyways, and every scientist who needs to read these papers already has access through their respective institution (though again, as I said, these subscriptions are unreasonably expensive right now).  Would you encourage each journal to create a section in every issue summarizing the important results of the week's papers for laypeople?  

    "Believe nothing, no matter where you read it, or who said it... unless it agrees with your own reason and your own common sense." -The Buddha

    by Brian A on Sat Jul 07, 2007 at 05:14:05 AM PDT

    •  You should ask Coturnix (0+ / 0-)

      about that, as I was kinda wondering myself. He'll probably be around in comment or at his blog shortly.

      Read UTI, your free thought forum

      by DarkSyde on Sat Jul 07, 2007 at 05:16:43 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Another thing about Plos (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Brian A

      is that it is damn freakin' expensive to publish (as compared to ACS journals, for example, that don't have page fees at all . . )

      •  They need more advertisements (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Roadbed Guy

        They have so few adverts on their website and no printed journal, so I guess they must make close to nothing from advertising dollars...  So since they make so little on adverts and they don't charge anything for people to read the journal, they need to make it up in publishing fees.

        Adverts are annoying of course but they are a great way to make the system more fair and egalitarian, as if they make up more of their costs in adverts it will be easier for more people to publish...

        "Believe nothing, no matter where you read it, or who said it... unless it agrees with your own reason and your own common sense." -The Buddha

        by Brian A on Sat Jul 07, 2007 at 05:37:14 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  To me their high fees smack of well-funded labs (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Brian A

          having a leg up in getting some perhaps-less-worthy research published (although, yes I do know the journals are peer reviewed).

          Plus it freezes out all the struggling 3rd world labs for sure . . .

          •  Defeats the whole purpose (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Roadbed Guy

            Yeah and if only well-funded labs can publish there, it sorta defeats the whole purpose of Plos, doesnt it?  

            "Believe nothing, no matter where you read it, or who said it... unless it agrees with your own reason and your own common sense." -The Buddha

            by Brian A on Sat Jul 07, 2007 at 05:53:54 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

    •  A point of clarification from PLoS (0+ / 0-)

      A couple of points of clarification from PLoS:
      First and foremost, if an author cannot afford the full publication fee for a PLoS journal (they range from $1250 for PLoS ONE, to $2500 for PLoS Biology and PLoS Medicine), then we waive the fee.  We make this very clear on the article submission form.  Editors and reviewers have no access to payment information, so the ability to pay can’t influence editorial decisions on the journals.  We have the waiver policy, because we agree that there’s no point replacing a system whereby only rich people have access to the literature, with one whereby only rich people can afford to publish their work.  

      Second – the fees themselves.  The business model that we and other open access publishers (but not all OA publishers) are using is to cover our costs by charging a fee to publish an article, rather than a fee to read an article.   We’re keeping the fees as low as we can, but we also have to try and cover as much of our costs as possible.  Ultimately, this system will work if publication fees are included in the expenses that fund research itself, and many funding agencies are supporting this idea.  After all, publishing is an integral part of the research process, and paying a publishing fee is no different from buying a reagent, or paying to attend a meeting.  It’s a new business model (although not so dissimilar from the page, colour and reprint charges that many authors are used to), but we feel it’ll lead to a much more effective journals publishing market than the suboptimal system that we have now, not to mention all the benefits that unfettered access to research literature will bring.

      After all, one of our core values is to make OA publishing easily available to everyone in the world, not just the well-funded researchers in the top labs in the Western nations.

      "Knowledge is Power"! Visit me at my blog

      by coturnix on Tue Jul 10, 2007 at 08:58:51 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Mentors (0+ / 0-)

    Even though you have yet to expire, I would classify you ~DS~ as one of my mentors.

  •  Open science. Yippie! (0+ / 0-)

    I am not a scientist, so for sure I'm not gonna tread in the professional quantum physics blogs written for physicists, although there is a part of me that remembers Paul Davie's statement that (to paraphrase) " ... space time, space foam, remote effects, mulitiple universes ... nobody understands any of this and if they tell you they do, they're putting you on.  Still, I know what I like!"

    OTOH, PLOS looks like a fantastic place for a laywoman like me, particularly because one of my enduring quests concerns the field of primatology which, given a modicum of background, I can get an inkling about from the studies done.

    BTW, I like the idea of open pharmacology, but research for human meds done on primates - not so much. The globe's scientists are slowly moving away from research on sentient beings which leaves, I guess, the C.I.A.

    Darksyde, since I made your acquaintance here at dkos I've been visiting "The Loom".  Can't thank you enough!

  •  Exciting concept (0+ / 0-)

    I wish I had something like this when I was teaching, I'm a retired biology teacher.  An open thread oriented to high school science students might be something to consider, as well as one that allows science teachers to develop new material for the classroom.

    The only shame in ignorance is taking pride in it.

    by carver on Sat Jul 07, 2007 at 06:31:58 AM PDT

  •  Science of all types is key to progress (0+ / 0-)

        I hope that pogress will continue no matter what our other problems are.  Learning of all types is important, but we must acknowledge the contributions of science that make a better life possible for everyone.
        I don't think our society rewards scientists enough and does not promote it much either.  Most of our heroes come from other areas, which I think does a disservice to society by not giving enough credit to those who we depend on for technological advances.

    •  Probably Because the Complexity Threshold (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      has moved so far beyond the grasp of ordinary people, and beyond the ability of individual scientists to make big newsworthy discoveries.

      This points to another trend I regularly warn about: the possibility that Enlightenment based society has both a maximum as well as a minimum technological window which to my eye we seem to be outgrowing.

      Superstition and fundamentalism are adaptive systems in a world people can't control or understand, since they usually come with social religious institutions that provide community support and opportunity for mission.

      What I think I'm seeing is that once technological progress allows the economy to produce mega businesses such that it once again becomes nondemocratically owned, once the artifacts of daily life become complex enough that the reasonable average person can't make or fix them, once the technological issues facing society require advanced education to even appreciate, the world again becomes too magical for the people to understand, and society is driven by forces too powerful for them to influence.

      And fundamentalism is there to work better for the common people, in their hands, in their lives, than rationalism does.

      We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

      by Gooserock on Sat Jul 07, 2007 at 08:10:16 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  I don't get this: (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Brian A

    While scientists are secretive and shy by training

    Most science papers have several authors and often reflect collaborations across institutions, even across countries.  The names on the papers are often themselves members of larger labs and centers in their own institutions.

    Conferences tend to have poster sessions at which grad students may present posters, along with presenting papers done with their advisors in other sessions.  In fact, generally science is a highly social field and grad students are trained to participate in it.

    Though all these generalizations are tricky, it is pretty safe to say that the distinctly less social fields are the humanities, where the model of the isolated research still dominates.  

    "False words are not only evil in themselves, but they infect the soul with evil." Plato

    by JPete on Sat Jul 07, 2007 at 08:22:48 AM PDT

  •  Much of the good science not funded by ..... (0+ / 0-)

    granting agencies and industry is going to go this way.  As is solid science done by knowledgeable "amateurs", especially in behavioral, biodiversity, taxonomic and long-term ecological, astronomical and meteorological studies.  As long as peer review occurs and the standards are kept reasonably high this will undoubtedly become a major source of scientific knowledge. Between membership fees, page charges and reprint or journal pdf files fees, it is becoming more difficult for nuts and bolts scientists with little grant support to publish obviously useful research (some of which is really not that expensive to perform.)  Both Einstein and Darwin would never have been funded!  Their goals were far too nebulous and broad!  You just want money for pencils and paper to solve the riddles of the universe, Herr Einstein? Funding denied! You want to sail around the world to solve the problem of the origin of species, Mr. Darwin?  Funding denied!

    In fact long-term studies are going to have to be done in this way or the costs become prohibitive. I know of one amateur researcher who started his own biota of the planet project (similar government-funded projects have been started and re-started several times now) that is now pretty far ahead of the others, at least in the basic aspects.

  •  "Peer Reviewed" has problems blogs may address (0+ / 0-)

    See for example this paper from UC Berkeley's Center for the Study of Higher Education. It, and this amazing post on The Oil Drum, formed the basis for this post reporting discussions at an National Science Foundation workshop about the potential impact of the impending arrival of the first MySpace generation of graduate students.

    Briefly, the Berkeley paper identifies two broad classes of problem with peer reviewed journals, which include PLoS as well as more traditional journals (quoting from this post):

    a split between "in-process" communication which is rapid, flexible, innovative and informal, and "archival" communication. The former is more important in establishing standing in a field, where the latter is more important in establishing standing in an institution.


    that "the quality of peer review may be declining" with "a growing tendency to rely on secondary measures", "difficult[y] for reviewers in standard fields to judge submissions from compound disciplines", "difficulty in finding reviewers who are qualified, neutral and objective in a fairly closed acacdemic community", "increasing reliance ... placed on the prestige of publication rather than ... actual content", and that "the proliferation of journals has resulted in the possibility of getting almost anything published somewhere" thus diluting "peer-reviewed" as a brand.

  •  Suspect intent (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Brian A

    Most 'scientists' aka research professionals in their perspective fields do not share information freely for fear of intellectual theft.

    If you're talking about already published articles, many can already be found free or relatively so for interested parties.

    This site is a good one for medical research. It even rates articles by their scientific quality level.

    However, educating the public on what it means is a whole endeavor in itself. Even having participated in high quality medical studies myself, keeping up with it is a full-time job.

    And...just like the newspapers, just because it is published, even high quality, doesn't mean it really is valid. The inner squabbles of publishing research are much like the daily drama on daily kos.

  •  Darksyde, your and DarkTower's (0+ / 0-)

    articles are among my favorites here at DKos.  I learn so much from you guys.  However, I am strictly a layperson as far as science goes, having finished my formal education many, many years ago.  Science-wise, it  is a whole new world now.
    I often have questions, but am afraid to look ridiculous to those of you with advanced degrees.  You want to bring the comment threshold up, but what becomes of us who really are interested in the info you present, but are discouraged from questions because we don't have the expertise and knowledge you do.  In other words, how can we learn, if you are going to pre-judge our comments or questions.
    Just askin'=).

    The ignorance of one voter in a democracy impairs the security of all - JFK- 5/18/63-Vanderbilt Univ.

    by oibme on Sat Jul 07, 2007 at 10:40:10 AM PDT

  •  JESUS COMICAL CHRIST! (0+ / 0-)


    Open science would work about as well as an open symphony orchestra!  Think about that for a while.

    Peer review has its faults, but still works astoundingly well.  

    As for outsiders, the history of science is full of their sucesses -- from George Green -- of Green's theorem and Green's functions, in 1828, -- to  Einstein in our own century, who was a classic outsider at the start of his career.  Lesser lights include mathematician S. Ramanujan , and biochemist  Peter Mitchell, he of the chemisomotic hypothesis.

    Now the question of science policy, as opposed to science itself, is far different, and, in my view, can possibly benefit from more open discussion.  But care is needed.  Sokal's Hoax demonstrated clearly the idiocy that results when non-scientists attempt to co-opt the technical discussion.  The Discovery Institute provides a parallel (though not identical) instance.

    The hungry judges soon the sentence sign, And wretches hang, that jurymen may dine.

    by magnetics on Sat Jul 07, 2007 at 06:28:06 PM PDT

    •  Open access has been working remarkably well (0+ / 0-)

      with PLoS, with BioMed Central, and with the arXiv server.  Peer review can remain, but the old style journals are not sacred, and Sokal hoax had nothing to do with open access (but rather  with interdisciplinarity).  

    •  heh. I'm a scientist (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      And on the editorial board of an open access (PLoS) journal that just, in its first impact factor rating, surpassed every other journal in its specialization.

      Open access journals are peer reviewed, by professional scientists.  PLoS journals are, at least.

      "I believe in vengeance" -- Harry Reid

      by fightcentristbias on Tue Jul 10, 2007 at 06:51:30 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I'm not a great fan of impact ratings; (0+ / 0-)

        of two major journals in my field, the one that generates more buzz and has the higher impact rating (by about 30%), is, IMHO, the poorer of the two -- that is, it publishes less fundamental results, and more ephemera.

        Look, not every journal can be Physical Review -- we need "bio quickies" like, say, Nucleic Acids Research; but reviewing is hard work.  It takes me a week to do a trivial paper, and a month to do a difficult one.

        I am a great popularizer, and am all for it; but if you can't parse "the second order Nuclear Overhauser effect resembles a domino effect outside of the extreme narrowing approximation", then you're not really on professional terms with me.  Same goes for me apropos the specialties of plenty of my science buddies; once the going gets heavy, I have little to contribute to their discussions.

        As I noted earlier, however, science policy -- warming, GMO's, drug resistance -- needs public awareness and discussion.

        The hungry judges soon the sentence sign, And wretches hang, that jurymen may dine.

        by magnetics on Sun Jul 15, 2007 at 04:01:40 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  nor am I (0+ / 0-)

          although I'm glad that our PLoS journal got a good one.  I was responding to your mistaken implication that open access journals are not peer reviewed, or are less peer reviewed, than other journals.  This is false.  I was also offended by your "is anyone here an actual scientist" question as if somehow open access journals were recognized as as lesser species by any competent scientist, and your pernicious association -- apropos of nothing -- of the Sokal incident and Discovery Insitute to the topic of open access.

          For completeness I might also mention that while your elitism strikes me as more curious than offensive (I do understand your nOe analogy, as I did my dissertation on a topic in theoretical and applied NMR), it seems mostly to have gotten in your way of understanding that open access and peer review are separate topics.

          "I believe in vengeance" -- Harry Reid

          by fightcentristbias on Mon Jul 16, 2007 at 04:07:45 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  OA and the history of science patronage (0+ / 0-)

    Coturnix mentions a published paper of mine, "Toward a Post-Academic Science Policy: Scientific Communication and the Collapse of the Mertonian Norms."  This might be interesting to those of you who who want to read about the social norms behind the now-collapsing patronage system that guided science through the Cold War, the variety of shifts currently afoot (of which OA publishing is but one) and the relation between these shifts and contemporary anti-science movements.  

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