Tl,dr version: I think we need more appropriate guidelines for live-tweeting conferences, specifically regarding the broadcasting of sensitive research. This should be at the discretion of the author, and ideally stated at the beginning of each talk.
Suzie Maidment, a colleague and friend of mine, recently started a major discussion on and off the internet with the following tweet: “I do think we need to have a discussion about live tweeting unpublished results & conclusions though. It’s just not cool.” (@Tweetisaurus)
The ensuing debate has lasted for four days now, and is on-going. Clearly, we need to have a discussion about live-tweeting at conferences. What followed from the initial tweet was a great debate, punctuated by a series of misunderstandings, ridiculous statements, partially offensive tweets, and what I think from some shows an attitude of disrespect towards colleagues. This was not from everyone involved – the dialogue was overwhelmingly progressive, but cut by a lot of opinions that could clearly do with thinking through a bit more, especially from those a bit new to the twitter game.
Top scientific publisher chooses not to advance open access
By Erin McKiernan, independent, and Jon Tennant, Imperial College London
Access to research is limited worldwide by the high cost of subscription journals, which force readers to pay for their content. The use of scientific research in new studies, educational material and news is often restricted by these publishers, who require authors to sign over their rights and then control what is done with the published work. In response, a movement that would allow free access to information and no restrictions on reuse – termed open access – is growing.
The journal Science Advances, to be launched in February by the AAAS, plans to publish articles under a license that would prevent commercial reuses by default. This includes publication on some educational blogs and incorporation into educational material, as well as reuse by small-medium enterprises. By definition, this is not open access. AAAS will give authors the option to publish their work under a fully open license, but will levy a US$1,000 surcharge on top of the US$3,000 base publication fee. A reason for this surcharge was not given.
Science Advances is going to be an online-only journal, but AAAS will also charge authors US$1,500 more to publish articles that are more than ten pages long. They believe editorial services are enough justification for this charge, but there is no calculation to support this claim. They reason this limit is also necessary due to concerns about brevity and writing quality. However, these issues can be addressed during peer review – a process by which scientists judge other scientists’ work as objectively as possible and which is done at little to no cost to the journal.
Some scientists worry that a page-limit surcharge could lead to the omission of details necessary for replicating experiments, a core tenet of scientific research. Leading open-access journals from publishers such as PLOS and BioMedCentral offer unlimited page lengths at no additional cost.
A comparison shows that fees to be charged by Science Advances are among the highest in the publishing industry.
AAAS says it is fully committed to open-access publishing, but an examination of its recent actions are cause for concern.
In June, AAAS wrote a letter to Farina Shaheed, Special Rapporteur in the field of cultural rights at the United Nations. Shaheed is preparing a report on open access for the UN Human Rights Council. AAAS expressed reservations about open access, calling the movement “young”, the approaches “experimental”, and encouraging Shaheed not to ignore the potential benefits of the reader-pays publishing model.
Concerns about AAAS’s approach to open-access publishing recently led more than 100 scientists, including us, to sign an open letter to them providing recommendations to improve Science Advances. AAAS have not responded formally to the open letter, choosing instead to publish a FAQ which makes no changes to their policies.
It is unfortunate that AAAS and others have chosen not to fully embrace open access and maximise the impact of publicly funded research. These are missed opportunities for the world’s largest general scientific society to lead the way in increasing worldwide access to information.
Erin McKiernan co-authored this piece. Jon Tennant receives funding from The National Environmental Research Council.
“Postpublication peer review on social media is like the mosh pit at a punk rock conference. It’s fast, uncoordinated, a lot less subtle, more in your face, and involves a few more risks.’
Peer review is the cornerstone of scientific legitimacy – it is the process where research is analysed by your professional peers. Traditionally, this has been conducted before the publication of an article. However, with the advent of the digital age of communications, particularly with regards to social media and the advent of ‘Web 2.0’, things are beginning to change. We now have systems in place where not just experts, but anyone, can comment on and evaluate research at many stages of the research publication process.
What an awful title, eh. Well, you can avoid making this mistake! A recent Guardian post by Conversation UK’s Akshat Rathi (he’s popular on the blog today!) discusses some of the common mistakes in popular science writing and how best to avoid them. It’s fairly general, and by no means exhaustive, and mainly for more writing about science than science writing (er, the latter being formal publication in peer-reviewed journal, I guess).
But a more interesting recent find was a wonderful paper by Kaj Sand-Jensen from 2007 entitled ‘How to write consistently boring scientific literature‘, all about, well, you guessed it, avoiding some common pitfalls when writing science articles. So in true Buzzfeed style, here are the top 10 tips of how to be a terrible science writer, with some personal comments after.