Scholarly communication


“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.


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.


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.


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.


The discussion on the state of the art of scientific publications in Latin American countries generally restricts itself to its supposedly low visibility. This affirmation is generally conditioned to the exclusive use of large international databases, mainly of the USA and Europe, which include thousands of scientific publications that have marginalized a large part of the scientific literature produced in peripheral countries. Given this fact of low visibility, it became imperative for some Latin American countries, beginning in the 90s (20th Century), to develop their own mechanisms of projection of the results of their own scientific production. The experiences constitute an example for countries that, having significant scientific production, still do not have the means to facilitate access to local scientific publications. Although Bolivia still remains distant from these initiatives, a series of studies were identified that show the existence of a tradition of publication in scientific magazines and interest in their visibility, on a local and international level, which demands attention to the most adequate mechanisms in order to carry this out.


The scandal of the “biotechnology evangelist” erupted in Korea at the beginning of the new year: a commission from Seoul National University announced that it had proof that Dr Woo Suk Hwang, considered one of the world’s foremost experts on cloning by nucleus transfer, had manipulated the data concerning experiments in human cell cloning and the creation of eleven lines of stem cells from human embryos published in two different articles in the journal Science in 2004 and 2005.


Free information works. In the sense that Open Access Journals, scientific journals which can be accessed at no cost, thereby guaranteeing free access to everyone, are at the same time able to guarantee the same quality as –or even better than- that of traditional journals, which can only be read by those willing to pay a price, be it the cover price or a subscription.


The problem of accessing data is as old as science itself. Complete popularisation of scientific data (of a theoretical model), and even more so of the methods and materials used during an experimental process and of the empirical data amassed, has always been considered an essential part of the process of authentication, duplication and filing of scientific knowledge. It is also true, however, that this theory has always been a complex riddle with no simple solution. Strangely enough, in today's era of instant communication, the challenge of information access seems to be facing new, daunting obstacles, some of which have the same name and characteristics they had 100 or 300 years ago, but which have been intensified by new dimensions and unexpected corollaries. Others have a new core, an example being, the problem related to disclosure, which implies the (more or less) complete popularisation of the data, procedures, and tools used during research. This is a subject which, although ancient in form, has recently taken on new, far-reaching implications. The scientific community now has to face a problem which originated, first, with the sequencing of the human genome and, later, with that of certain types of rice; a problem which could redefine certain aspects of the epistemological practice and nature of science.


On September 15, 2001, a joint editorial simultaneously published in thirteen medical journals, pointed an accusing finger at the increasing pressures coming from the pharmaceutical industry. During past decades, a key role in trial design and conduct was played by independent clinical investigators working in academic medical centres. They were also able to vouchsafe the quality of their research, which might not, however, be the case in the future.


There is a substantial divergence between the standards of integrity associated with "good science" and the problems imposed by the conflict of interest on research, specially in the biomedical field. There are at least as many ways in which information may be altered and the production of new scientific knowledge may be affected as there are links that can be established between researchers, private companies, and editors and staff of the specialized press. The pressures resulting from this high number of connections can affect all stages of research, from trial design to data analysis, from result publishing and dissemination to who will be the author of the articles.


Subscribe to Scholarly communication