Here is some brainstorming on criteria suitable for the evaluation of
scientific contributions (initially perhaps just journal articles, but
in the long run also blog posts, wiki edits, project proposals,
database entries and basically anything related to science that can be
described by a Uniform Resource Identifier).
For a start, I have listed below the criteria currently in use at PLoS ONE for pre-publication assessment of research manuscripts:
- Results reported have not been published elsewhere.
- Experiments, statistics, and other analyses are performed to a high technical standard and are described in sufficient detail.
- Conclusions are presented in an appropriate fashion and are supported by the data.
- The article is presented in an intelligible fashion and is written in standard English.
- The research meets all applicable standards for the ethics of experimentation and research integrity.
- The article adheres to appropriate reporting guidelines (e.g. CONSORT, MIAME, STROBE, EQUATOR) and community standards for data availability.
- The study presents the results of primary scientific research.
These points raise a number of issues with respect to adaptations to online environments:
- "Published" in this sense refers to "making the information publicly available after peer review", while the term has other connotations in the context of blogs or wikis where it simply means "making the information publicly available", and review by experts and non-experts can then take place afterwards.
- Sufficient detail can be defined differently in paper-based and web-based (and particularly hyperlinked) contexts.
- Support by the data is clearly crucial, and while traditional manuscripts have usually published only part of the data, online environments allow, at least in principle, direct links to or even embedding from the sites wherethe data are hosted.
- Intelligibility is traditionally defined with respect to the scope of a journal, but with blogs, it is the content of the individual posts that define the thus evolving scope, and intelligibility is likely to vary heavily from reader to reader and from blog post to blog post. Also, online environments tend to be less formal than traditional journals when it comes to the use of English.
- These standards and the concepts behind them do evolve.
- So do these guidelines and standards.
- Instead of describing only the results of primary research, online environments allow to describe the whole process that leads there.
Last but not least, it is crucial for an assessment system that the original contribution as well as its timestamp, contributor and evaluator can be uniquely identified, and that evaluations aggregated (e.g. via a PageRank system) across contributions, contributors and evaluators, as discussed here, here and here (evaluation on this page is unidimensional but you may use it anyway).
If so, it may be of interest to you that this model has inspired 3 Quarks Daily "to start awarding four prizes every year in the respective areas of Science, Arts & Literature, Politics, and Philosophy for the best blog post in those fields."
Eligible are blog entries written between May 24, 2008 and June 1, 2009, when the nomination period ends.
"Becoming a Doctor of Philosophy, more commonly called PhD is a great challenge. It requires from a PhD student several years to be achieved and great dedication to obtain results and present them to the rest of the community. Obviously, it is worth it since what is at stake is the improvement of the knowledge in its field and being an active part of progress. In addition, being a PhD student means that one enters a prestigious university and lab and benefits from highly skilled people (namely tutors, professors). These very people who will be able to discuss, orientate and help the student on its way to PhD.
Because a PhD student isn’t that easy everyday, we have made a selection of PhD students blogs -but not only-that might result helpful. As it is shown in the great picture above, the ambition of a PhD may well decrease as years go by, or at least it is what a student can feel. Consequently, we hope you will have a nice and enlightening time reading and/or re-discovering them. Let’s get started!"
SciDev, always a good source of information on science and development, recently posted a blog entry "How to set up a science blog" which may be of interest here, too, even though, at WAYS, you do not have to set up your own blog (it's all been done already, and you can start typing write away). The SciDev post also offers advice on what to blog and how, how often and how to generate discussion. Enjoy and feel free to use your WAYS blog for your first steps in science blogging!
As for blogging in the developing world, they mention the following: "Jonathan Gosier, a software developer living in Kampala, Uganda, describes blogging from a developing country as "a lesson in patience, endurance and ingenuity". On his blog on Apprifca he recommends ten applications that can ease the challenges of dealing with power cuts, unstable Internet connections and potential data loss."
Like much of the contents at SciDev, this post is also available in Chinese: 如何建立科学博客 .
In this article, blogging features prominently, and to add practical expericnce to academic discourse, one of the authors, Nicholas J. Anthis, has commented on the major ideas of the paper in his blog, as did John Dennehy (not involved in the paper) in his blog. Both also posted their blog entries to the platform researchblogging.org that aggregates blogs on the contents of peer-reviewed research papers.
Most of the blogs at researchblogging are in English but contributions in other languages are also possible.
WAYS has long been offering tools for social interaction between young scientists - every registered user can blog, announce science events like conferences, or comment on what others have written. Now we have started a collaboration with the German science news channel Wisskomm, which will bring you science news in video format on a weekly basis. For the moment, the service is in German only, but an English version is being planned. To get an idea on how this will look like, take a look below: