Monthly Archives: December 2008

Did someone just admit that journal articles don’t communicate science effectively?

A brief article in the latest Journal of Proteome Research, entitled The Structural Genomics Consortium makes its presence known (ACS, subscription-only), begins with a summary of output from the SGC:

Researchers with the Structural Genomics Consortium (SGC) have been toiling away in their labs for ∼4 years now, solving and depositing hundreds of protein structures in public databases. To date, they have deposited 15% of the human protein structures solved so far and have published >100 papers on their findings. Yet, many scientists still don’t know what SGC does.

The next paragraph made me sit upright (my italics):

We haven’t spent a lot of time on communication because we wanted to spend the time on science and scientific publications, but we appreciate that if we want our scientific output to be used to its maximum, we need to let more people know what we’ve been up to.

I may be reading too much into that sentence – perhaps they define communication as outreach via media to a wider community, as opposed to publications which are aimed at a specialist audience. However, I’m tempted to see it as a subconscious confession that the traditional journal article is increasingly ineffective as a communication tool in our science big, science connected world.

What I learned from Clay Shirky about science online

The “science online” community has somehow compiled a required reading list (thanks John!), from which many ideas and quotes are mined. I recently finished reading an entry on the list: Here Comes Everybody, by Clay Shirky.

I enjoyed the book – much of it was familiar to me, but it makes good use of specific examples to convey general principles. Of more interest to me is the application of these ideas to science online. Here’s what I think we can extrapolate from the book – and this is purely my personal interpretation.
Read the rest…