Research

Some scientists favor open-access, online collaboration tools

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Initiatives to make the scientific and medical research process more collaborative are gaining traction, as advocates of “open science” are launching open-access publications and social networking websites for researchers, the New York Times reports.
Bora Zivkovic, a chronobiology blogger and a founder of the ScienceOnline conference, said that science is moving to a more collaborative, online model “because it works better in the current ecosystem, in the Web-connected world.”
According to the Times, open-access archives and journals such as arXiv and the Public Library of Science have gained popularity in recent years.

In addition, social networking sites for researchers are launching. One such site, ResearchGate, allows scientists to answer each other’s questions, share papers and find collaborators. The site resembles a combination of Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter, according to the Times.
Ijad Madisch, founder of ResearchGate, said the site’s membership has climbed to more than 1.3 million since 2008.

Maxine Clarke, executive editor of the commercial journal Nature, said open science might be better in theory than in practice because “the scientific community itself is quite conservative.” Clarke added that traditional published papers still are viewed as a way to measure performance, award grants and assess tenure.
Clarke also suggested published papers will remain more trusted than information exchanged through free websites because the established journals spend considerable money to check data accuracy and screen for plagiarism.

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