Sunday, April 29, 2012

The Future of Science

Editor’s note: This guest post was written by Richard Price, founder and CEO of — a site that serves as a platform for academics to share their research papers and to interact with each other.

Almost every technological and medical innovation in the world has its roots in a scientific paper. Science drives much of the world’s innovation. The faster science moves, the faster the world moves.

Progress in science right now is being held back by two key inefficiencies:

  • The time-lag problem: there is a time-lag of, on average, 12 months between finishing a paper, and it being published.
  • The single mode of publication problem: scientists share their ideas only via one format, the scientific paper, and don’t take advantage of the full range of media that the web makes possible.


The time-lag problem

The first major inefficiency is the time-lag problem for distributing scientific ideas. [snip].


Science is fundamentally a conversation between scientists around the world. Currently the intervals between iterations of that conversation are 12 months on average. [snip].


The time-lag in the distribution of scientific ideas is significantly holding back science. It’s critical for global progress that we work to remove this inefficiency.

The single mode of publication problem

Historically, if a scientist wants to make a contribution to the scientific body of knowledge, it has to be in the form of a scientific paper.


Most people who share information on the web have taken advantage of the rich media that the web provides. People share information in all kinds of forms: videos, status updates, blog posts, blog comments, data sets, interactive graphs, and other forms.

By contrast, if a scientist wants to share some information on a protein that they are working on, they have to write a paper with a set of two dimensional black and white images of that protein. The norms don’t encourage the sharing of an interactive, full-color, 3 dimensional model of the protein, even if that would be a more suitable media format for the kind of knowledge that is being shared.

The future of science: instant distribution

Tim Berners-Lee invented the web in order to make it easier for him and his colleagues to share their research papers. The web has impacted science, but over the next few years, the web is going to entirely re-invent the way that scientists interact.

In 5-10 years’ time, the way scientists will communicate will be unrecognizable from the way that they have been communicating for the last 400 years, when the first academic journal was founded.

The first change will be instant distribution for all scientific ideas. Some sites, such as arXiv,, Mendeley, and ResearchGate have brought instant distribution to certain sub-fields of science recently, and this trend is going to continue to all fields of science.


Instant distribution means bringing the time-lag for distributing a scientific paper around the world down to 1 day, or less. This speed-up will have a transformative effect on the rate of scientific progress in the world. Discoveries will be made much more quickly.


Bringing instant distribution to science will have a similarly transformative effect on scientific progress.

The future of science: rich media

Historically scientists have written their papers as native desktop content. They have saved their papers as PDFs, and uploaded the files to the web.

Over the next few years, scientific content will increasingly become native web content, and be written natively for the web. Scientific content will be created with the full interactivity, and richness, of the web in mind. [snip].

Most web content is inherently rich. No-one prints out their Twitter and Facebook News Feeds to read them, or blog posts. The idea of printing out content doesn’t make sense for much of the web’s content, such as YouTube videos, Facebook photos, interactive maps, and interactive graphs such as those on you find on Quantcast, or Yahoo Finance.


Historically, scientific papers have cited other papers, but those citations are not hyper-linked.


Scientists will share content in whatever format makes sense for the piece of content in question. They will share ideas in the form of data sets, videos, 3-d models, software programs, graphs, blog posts, status updates, and comments on all these rich media.

The ways that these content formats will connect with each other will be via the hyperlink, and not via the citation. The citation will look like an ancient concept in a few years.

Science is undergoing one of the most exciting changes in its history. It is in a transition period between a pre-web form of communication to a natively web form of communication. The full adoption of the web by scientists will transform science. Scientists will start to interact and communicate in wonderful new ways that will have an enormous effect on scientific progress.

The future of science: peer review

In a world of instant distribution, what happens to peer review? Will this be a world where junk gets published, and no-one will be able to tell whether a particular piece of content is good or bad

I wrote a post on TechCrunch a few weeks ago called “The Future of Peer Review”, arguing that the web has an instant distribution model, and has thrived. I argued that the web’s main discovery engines for content on the web, namely search engines, and social networks, are at their heart, evolved peer review systems.


The future of science: academic credit

Historically scientists have gained credit by publishing in prestigious journals. [snip].

As scientific content moves to become native web content, scientific content will increasingly be evaluated according to the kinds of metrics that reflect the success of a piece of content on the web.

Web metrics vary, and evolve. Some are internet-wide metrics, such as unique visitors, page views, time on site. Others are specific to certain verticals, or sites, such as Twitter follower counts, StackOverflow score, Facebook likes, and YouTube video views.

As these metrics are increasingly understood in the context of scientific content, scientists will increasingly share content that attracts this kind of credit.


Directing Silicon Valley’s resources towards accelerating science

Science is in the process of being re-built and transformed. It is going to be an exhilarating process. The positive impact to society will be significant.

The next wave of science is not being built by scientific publishers. It is being built by engineering-

Silicon Valley’s formidable resources are starting to turn in the direction of science, ... .


As the extraordinary Silicon Valley innovation engine increasingly directs itself at transforming science, you can expect to see acceleration on a scale that science has never seen. Science will change beyond recognition, and the positive impact on the rate of technology growth in the world will be enormous.


Source and Fulltext Available At


Social Networks for Academics Proliferate, Despite Some Doubts

April 29, 2012

As a medieval historian with some decidedly old-school habits, Guy Geltner wanted to expand his online presence, but he shuddered at the thought of "friending" or "Tweeting" to get other scholars' attention.

Then a colleague introduced him to, one of a growing number of networking sites designed specifically for scholars.


The profile he set up includes far more information than his university's Web page could accommodate, including links to research papers, books, blogs, and forthcoming talks. [snip].

On the Web, "when you read a paper and want to comment, you'll be able to respond immediately," says Richard Price, founder of "The conversation will take minutes and hours instead of months and years."


The past five years have seen a proliferation of sites like, which, with 1.2 million registered users, is one of the heavyweights in the field.

The free sites, which also include,,, and a number of discipline-specific platforms, typically offer users a way to organize their research, create personal profiles, and search for people with similar scholarly interests.

While the number of faculty-networking sites is growing, and their registered-user figures soar into the millions, their impact on higher education is less clear. [snip].


Academics' communication overload is apparent on some of the networking sites, where discussion groups are empty shells and some profiles haven't been updated in a year or more.

Still, the founders and regular users of the sites insist they are having a profound impact on how scholars go about their work.


New Pace of Distribution

Mr. Geltner, the medieval historian, says some scholars upload papers that haven't been published elsewhere, as well as conference presentations and works in progress. He prefers to publish in a peer-reviewed journal rather than an online site, "but I reserve the option to change my mind, at least as a way to experiment with the medium."


But can help scholars organize their accomplishments into what he calls "a rich analytical dashboard," which a job candidate or grant applicant can print out to show, for instance, the number of page views an article has received.

A competing site, Mendeley, is a program for managing and sharing research papers that includes both a desktop application and a social-networking site.

Victor Henning, a co-founder, says he and his colleagues created the site in 2007 to deal with hassles they faced as doctoral students.

Their first step was to develop software that automatically extracts the title, author, volume number, and other bibliographic details from stored papers, sparing researchers the pains­taking process of plugging that information in by hand.

They then decided to link the researchers and to build an online research database, using the concept of crowdsourcing. The London-based site has evolved into the world's largest research-collaboration platform, they say, with 1.9 million users and some 180 million documents indexed by its online catalog.


Jonathan A. Eisen, a professor of medical microbiology and immunology at the University of California at Davis, used Mendeley to distribute the research papers that his father, Howard J. Eisen, a researcher at the National Institutes of Health, published before he died, in 1987. After struggling to free papers locked behind pay walls, Jonathan Eisen compiled the articles and posted nearly all of them on a Mendeley page he had created for his father.


'Everyone Uses Twitter'

While Mendeley's users tend to have scientific backgrounds, Zotero offers similar technical tools for researchers in other disciplines, including many in the humanities. The free system helps researchers collect, organize, share, and cite research sources.

It hosts group discussions, but social networking isn't a major focus of the site.


Another big player in the field is ResearchGate, which allows scholars to share research papers. Ijad Madisch, chief executive officer and a co-founder, says he came up with the idea for the site in 2007, while he was a research fellow at Harvard University and got hung up on a problem involving tissue engineering.


Today the site has about 1.5 million registered members—more than triple the number in October 2010—in 192 countries. About 6,000 people sign up each day, says Dr. Madisch, who is a physician.


Scholars aren't interested in sharing original ideas on such sites, he now believes, "because they're afraid they'll be ripped off" and because they simply don't have the time.

Among the smaller sites that are seeking out faculty members, provides online forums so scholars can link up through text or video chats. [snip].


He says FacultyRow enables them to do that by sending out news releases and helping professors who use the site land jobs as paid tutors or consultants.

But money isn't the primary factor drawing researchers to networking sites, says Dr. Madisch, of ResearchGate.

"We have thousands of new discussions taking place every day—scientists helping scientists without getting anything for it," he says. "Three years ago, people were smiling at me and saying that scientists aren't social. They won't share information. They were wrong."

Source and Fulltext Available At 


Thursday, March 15, 2012

Social Awareness Tools For Science Research

D-Lib Magazine / March-April 2012 / Volume 18, Number 3-4
Social Awareness Tools For Science Research

Tamara M. McMahon
University of Kansas Medical Center

James E. Powell, Matthew Hopkins, Daniel A. Alcazar, Laniece E. Miller, and Linn Collins
Los Alamos National Laboratory

Ketan K. Mane
Renaissance Computing Institute (RENCI)


Tools for social networking and social awareness are developing rapidly and evolving continuously. They are gaining popularity in a growing number of professional as well as personal activities, including scholarly research. There are social awareness tools for science researchers that facilitate collaboration, help manage references, and offer options for presenting findings in new ways. This paper discusses those tools. Evaluating and understanding their functionalities requires effort, and scientists can be reluctant to invest the necessary time to learn to use and populate them on their own. This suggests that an important role for librarians is to evaluate the many social awareness tools available, to recommend the ones that are best suited to each researcher's needs, and to help researchers use those tools effectively.

Full Available At

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Friday, June 26, 2009

Scholarly Networking / Dr Laura James / Arcadia Seminar / April 21 2009

Arcadia Seminar: Scholarly Networking

Speaker: Dr Laura James / Centre for Applied Research in Educational Technologies (CARET) / University of Cambridge

Location: Wolfson College.

Date and Time: Tuesday / 21 April 2009 / 18:00-19:15

The university experience, whether teaching, learning or researching, has always been built around interactions between people, and the network of people one meets. CARET is investigating many aspects of scholarly networking, including supporting and enhancing these real world connections online, and the ways in which academic networking differs from social networking (whilst drawing on the viral and compelling nature of consumer social tools).

Dr James will present various parts of this work including design personas drawn from user research into the ways that academics at all levels communicate today, which are informing user-centric design of scholarly networking concepts. In addition, she will touch upon business models for sustainability of academic networking systems and the different organisations who might host them.

About The Speaker

Dr Laura James manages people, projects and operations at the Centre for Applied Research in Educational Technologies at the University of Cambridge, and leads the CARET projects about scholarly networking. Her background is in high tech research and development, and she has worked at AT&T Labs in the US and UK , designing and prototyping cutting edge internet-connected wireless devices and systems.

Dr James was the first employee at (a consumer electronics company, producing connected home technology) and lead the engineering design team there through from idea to shipping product. She holds Masters and PhD degrees in Engineering from the University of Cambridge. Dr James was a NESTA Crucible fellow in 2007, and is an alumnus of the Royal Academy of Engineering Leadership Award and Executive Engineer programmes.

Podcast Available




CARET’s Thoughts On Social Networking


JISC Academic Networking Project


JISC Academic Networking Project Blog


Thursday, August 21, 2008

Lalisio - The International Knowledge Network

Lalisio - The international knowledge network enables students and scholars worldwide to find, share and connect knowledge.


Our vision is to empower students, scholars, and professionals in intelligent knowledge networks to share knowledge and make it globally visible, accessible, and ever expanding.

Background of Lalisio

The amount of knowledge increases every day, and with it the time and effort students, scholars, and professionals need to spend to find helpful materials or knowledgeable people with whom they can share, discuss, study, or research common points of interest. Due to the ever increasing amount of information, a great deal of valuable knowledge gets covered today and is ultimately lost.

For this reason, Lalisio offers easy ways to find, share, and connect knowledge worldwide making it more accessible and supporting research and education worldwide. Lalisio connects knowledge-seeking people from around the world with a unique search engine for all relevant data sources, i.e. books, Open Access articles, and publications in renowned journals. Lalisio puts a particular focus on a user-friendly design of its services and allows for a high degree of adaptability of its services to individual user needs. Lalisio is designing its services so that users are able to access them with personal computers as well as mobile devices – no matter whether they are at home, in a library, in a classroom, or in the office – they can use Lalisio to find answers to all kinds of questions. Lalisio integrates information, interaction, and information management, and is about community, content plus the valuable combination of both.



"Lalisio Literature" is a search engine designed to help you find the right literature for your research, studies, teaching and leisure.


For this purpose, we cooperate with major providers of international literature databases: Top booksellers such as Amazon, Abebooks and Powell's are among our partners as well as open access repositories such as arXiv and PubMed Central. Due to the integration of open access repositories our users can find and access cutting-edge articles mostly free of charge. Based on our analyses of content from numerous sources, we develop helpful search suggestions and relevance indicators for your literature search and help you quickly identify the literature you really want.


See Also

Science 2.0 Gains Another Search Engine: Q-Sensei From Lalisio / Barbara Quint NewsBreaks for Monday/ August 21, 2008


Saturday, August 16, 2008

Project Bamboo

Bamboo is a multi-institutional, interdisciplinary, and inter-organizational effort that brings together researchers in arts and humanities, computer scientists, information scientists, librarians, and campus information technologists to tackle the question: How can we advance arts and humanities research through the development of shared technology services?

Project Bamboo launched in April 2008 with the first workshop at Berkeley. We held three additional instances of Workshop One (Chicago, Paris, and Princeton), and in the process met with over 360 arts and humanities faculty, computer scientists, librarians, information technologists, and others from over 90 colleges, universities, and private and public organizations who were interested in advancing arts and humanities research through shared technologies. Now the project is moving into its next stage -- analysis -- and we need your help. [snip]

Bamboo is an international effort that includes liberal arts colleges, community colleges, research universities, national consortia, disciplinary societies, industry and other organizations that are concerned with advancing the humanities through the development of shared digital technologies. If we move toward a shared services model, any faculty member, scholar, or researcher can use and reuse content, resources, and applications no matter where they reside, what their particular field of interest is, or what support may be available to them. Our goal is to better enable and foster academic innovation through sharing and collaboration.

Project Bamboo is supported by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.






Planning Wiki


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Join Us



  • Janet Broughton, Dean of Arts and Humanities and Professor of Philosophy, University of California, Berkeley
  • Gregory A. Jackson, Vice President for Information Technology and Chief Information Officer, University of Chicago


  • Anthony Cascardi, Director, Doreen B. Townsend Center for the Humanities, and Professor of Comparative Literature, Rhetoric, and Spanish, University of California, Berkeley

  • James Chandler, Director, Franke Institute for the Humanities, and Professor of English Language and Literature, Committees on the History of Culture, Cinema and Media Studies, and Interdisciplinary Studies, and the College, University of Chicago

  • Charles Faulhaber, Director, Bancroft Library, and Professor of Spanish and Portuguese, University of California, Berkeley

  • Ian Foster, Director, Computation Institute, and Professor of Computer Science and the College, University of Chicago, and Associate Division Director of Mathematics and ComputerScience, Argonne National Laboratory

  • Judith Nadler, Director and University Librarian, The University of Chicago Library, University of Chicago

  • Martha Roth, Dean of the Division of the Humanities and Professor of Assyriology, Oriental Institute, Dept. of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations, and the College, University of Chicago

  • Stuart Russell, Professor and Chair, Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, University of California, Berkeley
  • Shelton Waggener, Associate Vice Chancellor and Chief Information Officer, University of California, Berkeley


  • David A. Greenbaum, Director of Data Services, Information Services and Technology, University of California, Berkeley
  • Chad J. Kainz, Senior Director for Academic Technologies, Networking Services & Information Technologies, University of Chicago