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Dec 19, 2008 Article
Changes in publication statistics when electronic submission was introduced in an international applied science journal

by Howard J. Swatland

In a refereed journal in the food and agriculture sector, papers were tracked over a five-year period during the introduction of electronic submissions. Papers originated in the Americas and Pacific region and were processed in Canada. Acceptance times for revised papers were reduced (P < 0.001) to 59% of the original, from 156.5 ± 69.1 days to 92.8 ± 57.5 days. But the start of electronic submission coincided with a change in the geographical origin of papers, with papers from Anglophone countries changing from a 61% majority to a 42% minority. It is possible that submissions from non-Anglophone sources were facilitated, thus creating challenges to the traditional Anglophone reviewer population.

Volume 7 • Issue 04 • 2008

Jun 20, 2008 Commentary
The future of the scientific paper

by Bora Zivkovic

Will the use of the Web change the way we produce scientific papers? Science go through cycles, and the development of communication of science reflects the development of science itself. So, new technologies and new social norms are altering the formality of the scientific communication, including the format of the scientific paper. In the future, as PLoS One is experimenting right now, journals will be online hosts for all styles of scientific contributions and ways to link them together, with different people contributing to a body of work and making science more interdisciplinary and interconnected.

Volume 7 • Issue 02 • 2008

Jun 20, 2008 Commentary
Collaborative Web between open and closed science

by Alessandro Delfanti

“Web 2.0” is the mantra enthusiastically repeated in the past few years on anything concerning the production of culture, dialogue and online communication. Even science is changing, along with the processes involving the communication, collaboration and cooperation created through the web, yet rooted in some of its historical features of openness. For this issue, JCOM has asked some experts on the most recent changes in science to analyse the potential and the contradictions lying in online collaborative science. The new open science feeds on the opportunity to freely contribute to knowledge production, sharing not only data, but also software and hardware. But it is open also to the outside, where citizens use Web 2.0 instruments to discuss about science in a horizontal way.

Volume 7 • Issue 02 • 2008

Jun 20, 2008 Commentary
To blog or not to blog, not a real choice there...

by Elisabetta Tola

Science blogging is a very useful system for scientists to improve their work, to keep in touch with other colleagues, to access unfamiliar science developed in other fields, to open new collaborations, to gain visibility, to discuss with the public. To favour the building of blog communities, some media have set up networks hosting scientists' blogs, like or Nature Network. With some interesting features and many potential uses.

Volume 7 • Issue 02 • 2008

Jun 20, 2008 Commentary
Science via podcast

by Ilenia Picardi and Simona Regina

Internet and the new media have been dramatically affecting the communication scenario. They are changing the role played by traditional media in the information processes, are creating new public spaces for dialogue and participation, and are triggering a short circuit among those producing and those receiving information. Even science communication is not stranger to the changes brought about by the new way of using and populating the web. An epitome of this process of change is the scientific podcast. This article will provide a brief review on the spreading and the purposes of podcasts in science communication, coming from a survey implemented as an activity of the course Science via podcast addressed to the second-year students of the Master in Science Communication of SISSA of Trieste.

Volume 7 • Issue 02 • 2008

Jun 20, 2008 Commentary
Public domain, copyright licenses and the freedom to integrate science

by John Wilbanks

From the life sciences to the physical sciences, chemistry to archaeology, the last 25 years have brought an unprecedented shift in the way research happens day to day, and the average scientist is now simply awash in data. This comment focuses on the integration and federation of an exponentially increasing pool of data on the global digital network. Furthermore, it explores the question of the legal regimes available for use on this pool of data, with particular attention to the application of “Free/Libre/Open” copyright licenses on data and databases. In fact, the application of such licenses has the potential to severely restrict the integration and federation of scientific data. The public domain for science should be the first choice if integration is our goal, and there are other strategies that show potential to achieve the social goals embodied in many common-use licensing systems without the negative consequences of a copyright-based approach.

Volume 7 • Issue 02 • 2008

Jun 20, 2008 Commentary
Grid computing and e-science: a view from inside

by Stefano Cozzini

My intention is to analyze how, where and if grid computing technology is truly enabling a new way of doing science (so-called ‘e-science’). I will base my views on the experiences accumulated thus far in a number of scientific communities, which we have provided with the opportunity of using grid computing. I shall first define some basic terms and concepts and then discuss a number of specific cases in which the use of grid computing has actually made possible a new method for doing science. I will then present a case in which this did not result in a change in research methods. I will try to identify the reasons for these failures and analyze the future evolution of grid computing. I will conclude by introducing and commenting the concept of ‘cloud computing’, the approach offered and provided by major industrial actors (Google/IBM and Amazon being among the most important) and what impact this technology might have on the world of research.

Volume 7 • Issue 02 • 2008

Oct 22, 2007 Article
Needs and expectations of teachers about the Science Museum of Castilla-La Mancha

by Santiago Langreo

After serving the community for seven years, the Science Museum of Castilla-La Mancha (MCCM) has decided to renew itself. In this context, a survey of the needs and expectations of the people to which the museum is dedicated plays a major role for the changes planned to prove successful. Teachers are among the main users of the museum, staying at the core of all teaching-learning processes, and play a role as mediators between science and students. This paper analyses the judgements made by teachers about various types of events and teaching resources which are normally provided by science museums and, more specifically, the Science Museum of Castilla-La Mancha. Against that backdrop, science (our content), education (our objective) and the democratic participation of teachers will show a clear route to follow if one wants to achieve quality for our institution and its future events.

Volume 6 • Issue 04 • 2007

Mar 21, 2007 Article
Scientists and science communication: a Danish survey

by Kristian Hvidtfelt Nielsen, Carsten R. Kjaer and Jørgen Dahlgaard

This paper summarizes key findings from a web-based questionnaire survey among Danish scientists in the natural sciences and engineering science. In line with the Act on Universities of 2003 enforcing science communication as a university obligation next to research and teaching, the respondents take a keen interest in communicating science, especially through the news media. However, they also do have mixed feeling about the quality of science communication in the news. Moreover, a majority of the respondents would like to give higher priority to science communication. More than half reply that they are willing to allocate up to 2% of total research funding in Denmark to science communication. Further, the respondents indicate that they would welcome a wider variety of science communication initiatives aimed at many types of target groups. They do not see the news media as the one and only channel for current science communication.

Volume 6 • Issue 01 • 2007

Dec 21, 2006 Editorial
Systematically sceptical

by Pietro Greco

One can no longer rely on the presumption that scientists comply with the Mertonian value of disinterest and assume that they always tell the truth when spreading the results of their research projects. This can be rightly considered as the gist of the four-page report submitted to the board of the American journal Science by the committee chaired by the chemist John Brauman, from the Stanford University, and comprising three members from the Senior Editorial Board of the same journal, two eminent biologists specialised in stem cell research and a top editor from the other major general press medium of the Republic of Science, the British journal Nature.

Volume 5 • Issue 04 • 2006