Cameron Neylon contemplates a future scholarly communications system that matches the realities of modern communications technologies in a post on Science in the Open.
He argues that any system for scholarly publication must perform certain functions:
- Assigning credit/registering ideas
- Archiving/safekeeping research
- Enabling re-use, replication, and re-purposing of research outputs
- Enabling discovery and filtering of information
The current system, focused on print publication, is good at at the first two items, he says. It makes a stab at filtering, though arguably an ineffective one, and it is terrible at enabling the re-use of data and other kinds of research outputs. With the advent of the web and radically lower publication costs, he argues, much more information should be published and more effective tools for filtering out the noise should be developed.
So in short, publish fragments, comprehensively and rapidly. Weave those into a wider web of research communication, and from time to time put in the larger effort required to tell a more comprehensive story. This requires tools that are hard to build, standards that are hard to agree, and cultural change that at times seems like spitting into a hurricane. Progress is being made, in many places and in many ways, but how can we take this forward today?
Go to the post to learn more about his “imaginary solution” to the pitfalls of the current system. A thought-provoking read.