On Tuesday evening, we made our way to the NESTA offices in Chancery Lane for a discussion on the new developments in scientific publishing, organised by John Hammersley (WriteLaTeX) . The event consisted of six “microslot talks” of five minutes each from a great panel, with time for a few questions for each speaker.
First up was Cheyne Tan from Blikbook who explained how his platform allows students who have questions and problems with research to ask each other and help each other out through an interactive platform. It started out in LBS and UCL and aims to improve content discovery and aids the universities in gleaning data from monitoring behaviour; how the data is shared between students and disseminated. The key point from Cheyne’s talk was the issue of “I don’t know what I don’t know” – this echoed through all five minute speaker slots and brought to the fore the issue of the lack of discovery avenues for those seeking information – how can they be led to unearth information that they never knew existed? In a society hungry for data, this is something that innovative science publishers are looking to address.
Joseph McArthur from Open Access Button took it from here and as well as filling us in on how Open Access Button works, he explained the importance they place on the stories that their users tell them of experiences, challenges and successes with their academic research. Everyone, from patients looking for information on their illnesses to academics probing for details and explanations, can use this platform and it is looking to grow and evolve even more.
Lou Woodley, Co-founder of MySciCareer, filled us in on what has been occupying her time during her current sabbatical – she is focussed on what preoccupies scientists; how can they keep up with all their papers and how can they secure grants? There is more of an interest now in talking about data. Career decisions is another big issue and MySciCareer records the personal narratives of what people have been through and the paths they have taken.
Richard Smith, Founder of Nowomics, stepped up to discuss how his platform helps life scientists to source research (a “twitter for genes”) and collates the information needed in one place through a twitter style feed. It searches for updates and publishes them and setting up an account is free. You can search by popularity and see what people are talking about and email alerts are also set up to further aid the discovery of more information.
Greg Tebbutt of Sparrho delivered an engaging microslot where he explained the purpose and work of Sparrho and how it came about for the same reasons mentioned above – you can search journals but this doesn’t help you find what you don’t know is out there! Again – the issue of “I don’t know what I don’t know”. On Sparrho, you can “love” posts that you like and get rid of what you don’t – Sparrho understands more about you by your activity and can consequently recommend better information and sources.
Cat Chimes, Head of Marketing for Altmetric, closed the evening’s event with an interesting overview of how they work. She opened with the line “Every researcher is a communicator” and went on to discuss the academic and societal impacts of research and how they are alternatives to metrics and do not replace the impact factor, they complement it. This is an article-centric approach, it searches blogs and articles to collate and deliver article-level metrics to journal publishers.
All six speakers gave excellent, informative and engaging accounts of their respective business models and it was refreshing to see how they are developing and improving user access to information in the scientific publishing arena. Even better was how they are keeping the stories and needs of the readers/researchers at the heart of it all – communication and interaction is key and with this in mind, there are so many more exciting developments and ideas to come! This linking of people’s stories to information is a nice way of connecting back to the roots of publishing; it is, after all, about story-telling.
Here at Inspired Selection, we are passionate about the publishing industry; we talk about publishing, read about publishing and attend all major publishing events like the one you’ve just read about. We would love to meet you at events so do feel free to come up and introduce yourselves! If you’re interested in opportunities within publishing do keep in touch and register for our Vacancy Update Service as well as keeping up to date with us on Twitter