Science in the open

University by jeffpearce
Progress toward Public Access to Science:
[Via PLoS Biology: New Articles]

PLoS Chairman of the Board Harold Varmus applauds the newly enacted NIH public access policy as a positive step toward ensuring greater access to and better use of the scientific literature.

This very nicely discusses some of the recent changes that are making Open Access to scientific information a going concern. Anyone receiving money from NIH has to deposit the accepted manuscripts into PubMed Central and allow freely available viewing within 12 months.

He also mentions the continuing problem of copyright. Many journals require the authors to turn over all rights to the journal in order to have the paper published. This is becoming a problem in the Web 2.0 world, since the concerns of the author do not often match those of the publisher.

As Varmus writes:

Finally, unless authors modify their copyright agreements with journals before publication—something they are urged to do—journals will continue to retain inappropriate control over the use of their articles, which is currently confined largely to reading online for most articles in PMC.

Harvard has recently addressed this. Faculty members must grant a non-exclusive license to the University for it to post on a website it maintains, one that is open and free. Faculty can opt out of this on a case by case basis if the journal will not permit this.
Varmus comments:

Moreover, the nuisance of writing to the Provost every time a desired journal refuses to conform to the Harvard policy may cause faculty members to rethink their choice of venue, thereby minimizing use of the “opt-out” option.

The journals make their reputation based on the reputations of its author scientists. If a journal has a restrictive copyright policy, these scientists may go elsewhere, putting pressure on the journal to adopt more open access.

This story is not over yet. But it has the potential to revolutionize scientific publishing. Stay tuned.

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Teaching science

structure by Vik Nanda

Rethinking Outreach: Teaching the Process of Science through Modeling:
[Via PLoS Biology: New Articles]

How can we get high school students interested in science? Here is a program that matches students with researchers, with the purpose of building a physical model of the protein being investigated in the lab.
What an outstanding idea! Not only did these students learn a great deal about how research is actually done but they also were instrumental in helping the researcher have some of the tools he needed.

These sorts of interactions will always be needed. Humans like to interact personally with others. But, Web 2.0 technologies can make it easier for these sorts of interactions to take place. Meetup is a great example of this.

There are already hints that scientific meetings may take a similar path. Again, not to replace the conferences already taking place but as an adjunct.

Update: Of course, Web 2.0 approaches can also expand the reach of teaching and communications. A great example was the recent EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative Online Focus Session.

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