Web 2.0 and Semantic Web: The Impact on Scientific Publishing". The panel was moderated by John Wilbanks from Science Commons. John did an excellent job showing how a number of general internet trends are effecting scientific publishing. Specifically, I was impressed by three major projects the panel touched on:The last panel I attended on the first day of SXSW was entitled "
- Open Access
- SemanticWiki on People at Ontoworld
Melissa Hagemann, the Program Manager for Open Access at the Soros Foundation, was one of the panelist. If you aren't familiar with Open Access, it is an initiative trying to get all scholarly research available for free on the Internet. Melissa explained that many supporters are now requiring the research they support via grants, to be provided under Open Access. In fact, the US Congress is considering legislation to require all research supported by the United States Government to be distributed under Open Access. The reason is that the government and other funders are realizing they are paying for the research twice. Firstly, they are paying to have the information created and synthesized for publication. Then they are paying again to allow other researchers to get access to that knowledge.
Connotea, which Timo described as a "del.icio.us for scientific publishing". I spent some time exploring the site tonight and it does seem to have all the typical social bookmarking site features, but focused around tags for scientific publications.Timo Hanay, Director of Web Publishing at Nature Publishing Group, discussed the beginning of an evolution in how the impact of scientific research is measured. Historically, the impact of a piece of academic research is measured by the journal that the research is published in. However, that is evolving - the impact increasingly based on how the information is distributed. One of the examples Timo showed was
SemanticWiki on People at Ontoworld
As journals and other material are shared via Open Access, another key challenge is making it easy for individuals to discover the content they are most interested in. Interestingly, one of the most difficult challenges is understanding which individual wrote certain pieces of research. For example, a common name (John Smith) may be multiple people; or multiple spellings of a name (John Smith, John A. Smith) may be the same person. Proper attribution and understanding of the progress of a research project is very important, when trying to deliver meaningful search results across scientific publications. Many are hoping the 'semantic web' will make that easier. Interestingly, these projects are leveraging the SemanticWiki on People at Ontoworld to help with this.
While I was very familiar with all of the online media trends behind these projects, it was very interesting to hear how this is effecting the publication of scientific research and journals. It honestly was very encouraging! When I think about the productivity improvements that social media has brought to my life, I'm happy to hear that the individuals focused on finding a cure for cancer - and other significant projects - are using the same types of tools to improve their productivity.