Science publication and assessment: our national debate

The Australian, our national newspaper, is usually not my preferred read but does have a good higher education section. Our new government has just thrown out an assessment exercise named the Research Quality Framework (RQF) – it will be replaced with something very similar, no doubt. Disturbingly, Thomson Scientific were given a licensing agreement by the previous government to supply the data for the RQF.

Imagine my delight to find newspaper articles discussing the shortcomings of impact factors, the rise of Google Scholar and the open-source software of Anne-Wil Harzing:

  • Research Review Heats Up
  • “…commercial rivals such as Elsevier’s Scopus database and software built on Google Scholar have entered the market while the rise of research assessment linked to promotion and funding has made academics ask searching questions about the integrity of Thomson ISI as the key player.”

  • Metrics debate is the rule
  • “Australia’s closer embrace of metrics comes at a time of fierce international debate about research assessment.”

    Not entirely unrelated:

  • Scientists ‘obliged’ to share wisdom – so says the science minister
  • Science left to rue a roo genome – on the sorry state of genomics in Australia

When it’s obvious to you but not to…anyone else

Do you know this feeling? You’ve been trialling a software package or online service for years. You think it’s great, so do your online community friends and you finally decide to share the love with your work colleagues. As soon as you do so, they discover a usage issue that you’ve never even thought about. It completely ruins the experience for them and makes your beloved application look like a piece of crap.

This keeps happening to me with Google and a large part of the problem concerns email addresses and Google accounts.
Read the rest…

OpenOffice Google Docs extension

More reasons to use both Google Docs and OpenOffice: the OpenOffice.org2GoogleDocs extension. Allows you to upload from OO to Google Docs or download from Google Docs to OO. Requires that your JRE is set up correctly in OO and is Java 6.

Without realising it I’ve become a big user of Google Docs, mostly by importing from GMail attachments. On rare occasions I find the 500 KB maximum file size to be a problem – I’d suggest 1 MB is a more sensible maximum – but it does encourage people to keep embedded content out of their text documents.

On the topic of word processor alternatives, AbiWord has come a long way and now boasts a seriously-useful plugin list.

Open (notebook) science gathers momentum

Pedro has started an open science project to study domain family expansion. He’s trialling Google Code as his project repository. I think this is a great idea and a very exciting approach. If you have anything to contribute, go and check it out. While you’re there, click the bioinformatics tag to see another 54 projects at Google Code. Quite a resource, although a few are not very active.

And in open science synchronicity, David Ng publicises Rosie Redfield’s lab on BoingBoing and links to his blog post where she discusses the benefits of open science and blogging. The few comments so far focus on the old “but won’t we get scooped” argument, so head over there and say something positive.

We must keep pushing the agenda – open research will be the norm one day, I’m sure of it.

Better Google Reader sharing?

The comments at Bertalan’s Facebook post pointed me to Feedheads, a Facebook app to share Google Reader items.

Here’s the problem – I don’t share individual items in Google Reader. Most of my tags are public by default (here’s bioinformatics for example) and if I like a post, I star it (and the starred list is public too). These apps for sharing feeds would be much more useful if they aggregated my starred items and/or all posts under a tag, IMHO.

Google Docs now with Presentations

The title of the post says it all, really. The news is slowly making its way through the tech blogs.

I just tried uploading a file saved as Powerpoint (ugh) from OpenOffice. First attempt – server error. Second attempt – success. On the whole, the import preserved formatting pretty well, except for some text formatting (spacing changes, tab stops vanish). Two attempts to display the online slideshow have resulted in a black window with no slides. Oh, and you can only save as zipped HTML.

Early days – let’s hope they iron out the bugs and introduce OpenOffice import/export soon.