Incremental and continuous – a new paradigm for scientific publishing?
October 3, 2008 9 Comments
I had an interesting conversation with my mother a couple of nights ago about open science. Both of my parents are scientists (dad = chemist, mom = pharmacologist, both of them entrepreneurs as well), so I can just tell them what I’m doing and they always “get it”. My mother in particular has this knack for seeing past the shallow tangle of things I’m saying and “getting it” at a deeper level than even I do. A mother’s intuition, a scientist’s skill, whatever you want to call it – she’s good.
The conversation began with my telling her about the workshop and how the planning was going and what we were going to try to do. I started getting into Open Access, peer-review, credit systems, open notebook science, data sharing and portability, reproducible research, the culture of science and academia, big change, etc, etc, etc… all along she verbally nods, asks questions, comments, and then she says,
…so research should be published incrementally and continuously.
At that simple, yet astonishingly clear statement, I fell silent. Yes, I was familiar with discussions about open peer-review, about open notebooks, about blogging one’s research, about reproducibility, but I hadn’t really encapsulated it in my head the way my mother did. Of course, the term “published” is used very loosely here, and if it is indeed incremental and continuous then it resembles scientific publishing as it is now not at all. But maybe in the future we won’t have journal articles per se – removed in both time and process from the actual work – except as summaries at natural breakpoints. Maybe the bulk of what is read and used as the basis of future studies will be these incrementally “published” (i.e. certified in some way) and continuously updated records of ongoing research.
Many things would be different as a result (or precondition) of such a “publishing” paradigm, and I’m sure there are many potential pros and cons. I don’t necessarily think it should be the model for how things are done in the future, but my mom’s logical leap definitely made me ponder this whole open science thing in a new light.