Doing scientific research is becoming increasingly complex, both in terms of the tools and technologies used, and in the collaboration across disciplines and locations that is increasingly commonplace. While the way we write up and publish research is of course also very different from 25 years ago, I would argue that our tools and services haven’t quite evolved at the same pace.
Of course there are important trends that enable what the Royal Institution calls Science as an Open Enterprise, most importantly Open Access, which has broken down many barriers for open collaboration. But very few organizations - commercial or non-profit - see it as their primary mission to make it easier for researchers to collaborate and produce great science, in the sense that everything else is secondary and this focus is really obvious to everyone.
The following are just some examples that make you laugh hard or cry out loud:
Citation styles is a perfect example of a problem that should have been solved as soon as we made the switch to digital publishing. I can travel through half of Europe without showing my passport, and using the same currency, but I need to reformat citations every time I submit to a different journal? And I have to use the same tool for this as my coauthors, as the different reference managers don’t work with each other?
Too often there are other intentions at work in parallel. While notable, they sometimes stand in conflict with the goal of making a researcher’s life easier. A perfect example is the manuscript submission process. In parallel to the tools getting better and easier to use, the demands on the author seem to be increasing at an even greater rate, both in the data and metadata he or she should provide, and in the work submitting authors are asked to do that traditionally have been done by publishers. Another good example are peer review and evaluation. The proportion of time spent doing research vs. time spent doing administrative work seems to decreasing and not increasing.
I wish more people and organizations would stand up and state that keeping it simple is their primary goal.
Don't Reinvent the Wheel
In a post last week I talked about roads and stagecoaches, and how work on scholarly infrastructure can often be more important than building customer-facing apps. One important aspect of that infrastructure work is to not duplicate efforts.Image by ...
One Ring to Rule them All
One Ring to rule them all, One Ring to find them, One Ring to bring them all and in the darkness bind them.Yesterday 60 years ago the first volume of the Lord of the Rings trilogy by J.R.R. Tolkien was published. The quote above obviously doesn’t quiet apply to scholarly publishing, ...
Please keep it simple: citations, links and references
In my last post I wrote about the importance of keeping things simple in scholarly publishing, today I want to go into more detail with one example: citations in scholarly documents.LEGO scientists discuss how they can cite their dataCitations are an essential part of scholarly documents, ...