Tuesday, April 24, 2012
The latest attempt to renovate the system is by Priem & Hemminger (2012). At the beginning of their paper, they suggest that previous attempts in reinventing scholarly publishing have failed due to two reasons:
1.Change to peer review are just patches on a fundamentally broken scholarly journal system
2.Proposals offer no smooth transition from the present system.
Today, the journal fills four main functions: It archives scholarly material and time-stamp the researchers' contributions, if disseminates scholarly products and it certifies contributions (if it's published in a high-impact journal it must be of value). Priem and Hemminger want to make each of these functions independent from the others.
Their first suggestion is to "refactor" the system. This means locating "parts which are confusing, inefficient or redundant" and improving them without hurting the rest of the system. Their second suggestion is the "decoupled journal" (DcJ) (more about this later).
These journals were suggested by Ginsparg (1997) and only provide the "stamp of approval" to an already published-archived-registered material. Despite the promise the overlay model represents, it hasn't been successful so far, and almost every journal which tried it went back to the traditional coupled model.
The PLoS One model
Post-publication review services
There are a few existing post-publication peer review services, the best-known of them are Faculty of 1000 (F1000) and Mathematical Reviews. F1000 "...identifies and evaluates the most important articles in biology and medical research publication." F1000 is supposed to function as additional help for researchers in managing their reading. It has actually been shown to identify quality papers which were overlooked by leading journals (Allen et al., 2009).
Mathematical Reviews is and abstracting service, but as Priem & Hemminger say, it is "occasionally called into service as a post-publication peer review venue when the traditional journal fail in their role as certifiers. In this case, abstracters may abandon objectivity and attack papers and their reviewers directly."
These services have one major problem: they aren't brand names, and can't replace the certification of well-established journals, no matter how much their peer review is sound.
The Deconstructed Journal
Smith (1999) had three insights about the Deconstructed Journal (DJ):
1. The means (journal) and the functions are not the same.
2. Any system that will be implanted instead of the journal has to be at least as good.
3. Several cooperating agencies could successfully replace the central publisher.
Priem and Hemminger cite van de Sompei et al. (2004) and Smith (2003) as those who pointed out the advantages of a deconstructed system:
"...encourages innovation, adapts well to changing scholarly practices, and democratizes the largely monopolized scholarly communication market"However, van de Sompeis' and Smith' proposals are a bit outdated, because they hadn't taken into account the social media.
The functions of the decoupled journal
The Decoupled journal (DcJ, rather than DJ) is the updated version of the DJ. This is a universal, or meta, journal, where everything scholars produce and share is stored long-term, added to other projects, linked to, commented about...etc. etc.With the DcJ, publication is the first step in the process of revisions, reviewes, etc. Scholarly items will need persistent IDs, storage, and mirror backup in order to survive long-term. This can be done with persistent identifiers such as the DOI and institutional or subject-area repositories (ArXiv, Pubmed).
After the publication of a draft, it's time for preparation. Preparation is defined by the authors as "Changing the format of a work to make it more suitable for a given (human or electronic) audience". Today, many companies sell authors services (like copy-editing), but preparation is still mostly left to the journal. The DcJ will allow authors the freedom to choose the preparation they prefer (say, PDF or HTML format). PLoS One, as mentioned before, already leaves copy-editing to authors, perhaps showing the beginning of a trend.
After the preparation comes the assessment. Defined as "Attaching an assessment of quality to a scholarly object". Today's method of assessment, peer review, is usually anonymous, unpublished to the general public, and done by invited reviewers. The reviewers give their opinion in free text first, then a final assessment whether the material should be published.
In the Priem & Hemminger model, reviewers don't decide whether the material is publishable or not (it's already published!) but certificate it. In the future, Nature could become "Nature stamping agency" and give papers its "seal of approval". It will even be able to do so by giving grades, rather than just accept or reject the paper. There will be agencies that will only review the soundness of the work (like PLoS One does today), agencies who will certify only certain parts, open peer reviews and blind peer reviews. Other forms of assessments - blog posts, number of downloads, and even tweets - will be stored as well. The authors see the DcJ as a way to allow peer-review to evolve freely, without its tight coupling with the other functions of the journal.
With libraries' budgets tighter than ever (even Harvard decided that commercial journals are just too expensive ) I expect more and more authors will choose the DcJ route. However, it could be that a certification bottle-neck will be created, with the prestigious journals of today becoming the prestigious stamping agencies of tomorrow. The number of expert peer-reviewers in each field could become a limitation as well. Will our grandchildren complain about the amount of money they have to pay for a Science certification? Only time will tell.
Allen L, Jones C, Dolby K, Lynn D, & Walport M (2009). Looking for landmarks: the role of expert review and bibliometric analysis in evaluating scientific publication outputs. PloS one, 4 (6) PMID: 19536339
Ginsparg, P. (1997). Winners and Losers in the Global Research Village The Serials Librarian, 30 (3-4), 83-95 DOI: 10.1300/J123v30n03_13
Smith, J. (1999). The deconstructed journal – a new model for academic publishing Learned Publishing, 12 (2), 79-91 DOI: 10.1087/09531519950145896
Van de Sompel, H., Payette, S., Erickson, J., Lagoze, C., & Warner, S. (2004). Rethinking Scholarly Communication D-Lib Magazine, 10 (9) DOI: 10.1045/september2004-vandesompel
Friday, March 30, 2012
Costas, van Leeuwen and van Raan (2010) classify published scientific papers according to three general types:
Normal-type: these have the normal distribution of published papers, usually reaching the peak of their citation 3-4 years after publication and then decay.
Flash in the pans-type: these get cited very often when they first come out, but are forgotten in the long run, kind of like a teenager pop star.
Delayed-type: those who start drawing interest later than the normal-type papers. Costas et al. prefer not to call them all "sleeping beauties" because real sleeping beauties (never cited and then suddenly rise to fame) are very rare.
Source: Costas, van Leeuwen and van Raan (2010)
Looking at all the documents from Web of Science between the years 1980 and 2008 (over 30 million), Costas et al. found that the "flash in the pans" type of papers tend more to be editorial, notes, reviews and so forth, rather than research articles. Delayed documents tended to be more prominent in the "articles" category. When they checked Nature and Science, two 'letter' journals, Costas et al. found that they cover 10.9% and 10.5% of "flash in the pans" documents respectively, which is higher than average (9.8%) in the database.
The castle of the sleeping beauty is the availability of information. The information has to be accessible, and it has to be visible. The Web, of course, has improved the accessibility of papers a great deal, especially when said papers are open-sourced. When a paper is digitalized or becomes open-accessed, its visibility and availability increase. But being available is not enough: researchers must have use for the information despite the passage of time.
The prince kisses the sleeping beauty awake
Source: Wang, Ma, Chen & Rao, 2012
In 1995, Polchinski's paper on supergravity in string theory “Dirichlet branes and Ramond-Ramond charges” came out and cited an early work by Romans (1986) about the same subject. Romans' paper has not been cited from 1986 to 1995(!), but according to Google Scholar (which admittedly could be inflated) count, it has been cited 424 times since then. Why? One reason is that Romans' paper was simply ahead of its time, published in a "sleeping beauty" field. In the nine years until Polchinski's paper, interest in supergravity has considerably increased. Another reason is that Polchinski is a high-classed prince, with great academic authority. An unknown scholar probably wouldn't have been as successful in waking up Romans' paper.
Source: Wang, Ma, Chen & Rao, 2012
An extension of the "Mendel Syndrome" is "Mendelism", when researchers "develop lines of research and have a profile of publications (‘oeuvres’) 'ahead of their time'’’ (recent Nobel Laureate Dan Shechtman comes to mind). Citation speaking, the Mendel syndrome is defined by Costas et al. as "the undervaluation through citation analysis of units (individuals, teams, etc.) due to significant patterns of delayed reception of citations in their scientific publications."
Wang et al. returns to a question by Eugene Garfield, the father of citation indexing: "Would Mendel’s work have been ignored if the Science Citation Index was available 100 years ago?" We can only wonder.
Costas, van Leeuwen, & van Raan (2011). The ‘‘Mendel syndrome’’ in science: durability
of scientific literature and its effects on bibliometric
analysis of individual scientists Scientometrics, 177-205
van Raan, A. (2004). Sleeping Beauties in science Scientometrics, 59 (3), 467-472 DOI: 10.1023/B:SCIE.0000018543.82441.f1
Rodrigo Costas, Thed N. van Leeuwen, & Anthony F. J. van Raan (2009). Is scientific literature subject to a sell-by-date? A general
methodology to analyze the durability of scientific documents Journal of the American Society for Information Science and Technology arXiv: 0907.1455v1
Wang, Chen, & Rao (2012). Why and how can "sleeping beauties" be awakened? The Electronic Library, 30 (1), 5-18 : http://dx.doi.org/10.1108/02640471211204033
Friday, December 30, 2011
Li, X., Thelwall, M., & Giustini, D. (2011). Validating online reference managers for scholarly impact measurement Scientometrics DOI: 10.1007/s11192-011-0580-x
Wednesday, December 14, 2011
Wednesday, December 7, 2011
Thursday, August 18, 2011
Generic to Brand Name Drugs: A Methodological
Systematic Review PLoS One : 10.1371/journal.pone.0023611