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Two practical and useful social media guides for research and policy engagement

September 19, 2011 Leave a comment

Two practical and useful social media guides for research and policy engagement

Social media has a significant impact on how individuals communicate, interact and collaborate.  It should be an important component in any researcher’s toolkit, to engage stakeholders, gather and analyse data, and disseminate findings. However, most often it isn’t, because  it is still so new, and because there is yet much to be discovered, explored and understood regarding its capabilities, utilities, pitfalls, and practical uses as a tool and mechanism in conducting and disseminating research.   Social Media: A guide for researchers  produced by Alan Cann of the Department of Biology at the University of Leicester, and Konstantia Dimitriou and Tristram Hooley of the International Centre for Guidance Studies, offers a  useful  and practical guide to engaging a range of resources.

Impact 2.0 – New mechanisms for linking research and policy  was originally developed by Cheekay Cinco and Karel Novotney, at the Association for Progressive Communications (APC) and is now managed and updated by Fundacion Comunica, with the financial support of the International Development Research Centre (IDRC).  It seeks to develop a body of knowledge about the use of Web 2.0 in policy-oriented research and design.  Perhaps on account of the scale, scope and speed of change in new communication tools and technologies,  these  tools have not been extensively exploited in promoting and strengthening links between research, advocacy and policy. This guide can be helpful to researchers who wish to better understand how social networking tools can be used to identify the main policy actors,  issues, connected themes, and opportunities; how  these tools can be used to encourage discussion, debate and collaboration; and  how to leverage them in  engaging and maintaining relations with policy makers and other important stakeholders.

Peer review under review

August 16, 2011 1 comment

Two interesting reports were mentioned on  DocuTicker today concerning the use of peer review in scientific publications:  Peer review in scientific publications by the U.K. House of Commons Science and Technology Committee; and Alternatives to peer review in research funding by the Rand Corporation.

A detailed examination of the current peer-review system was conducted this year by the UK Science and Technology Committee,  examining its effectiveness, and  touching on issues of impact, publication ethics and research integrity.  Among its recommendations the report advocated for a development of standards and training for all editors and, particularly, for early-career researchers in peer review, acknowledging that the system depends on the integrity and competence of the people involved, and the degree of editorial oversight and the quality assurance of the peer review system itself.  The committee felt strongly that research data should be fully disclosed and, especially in the case of publicly funded research, made publicly available, to ensure reliability, testing, and reproducibility. Citing the importance of post-publication peer review and commentary, the use of new media and social networking tools was seen as an “enormous opportunity for experimentation” as a supplement to pre-publication peer-review. As well  post-publication review was recognized as an important vehicle in ensuring wide and expedient transmission of interesting research,  facilitation of rapid review by the global audience, and  in alerting the community to ”potential deficiencies and problems with published work”.

The Rand Europe Report, Alternatives to Peer Review in Research Project Funding  acknowledged that while peer review is considered the gold standard for reviewing research proposals, it is not always the best methodology for every research funding process.  The discussion of a set of established approaches that offer alternatives to traditional peer review are presented to inspire thinking among research funders to apply based on their situation and mission.

BodyMaps: a new consumer health research tool

June 7, 2011 5 comments

Today I read about an amazing new tool called BodyMaps, in a TechReview article by Brittany Sauser.  Body Maps was created by Healthline, a consumer health information provider, to enable anyone to learn more about the bones, muscles and blood-vessels that make up the human body, using an interactive, visual search tool that allows users to explore the human body in 3-D.  The best part is that it is very easy to use.  You can click on the “body menu”  which produces a list of links to various parts of the body, or you can search by body keyword, or easiest of all, click on part of the image provided.  For example, I clicked on the knee and got a close up image of just the knee, I could then explore various layers – the bones, blood vessels, muscles and  joints, which I could rotate for 360 degree views of the knee.  I could also see an MRI of a real-life knee joint, and watch videos showing osteoarthritis, total knee replacement and more. This is a fantastic reference resource – go to BodyMaps and see for yourself!

Exciting Development in Open Access Publishing: SpringerOpen

July 7, 2010 1 comment

Springer Science+Business Media one of the world’s largest Scientific, Technical and Medical (STM) publishers announced, on June 28, 2010, a significant expansion of its open access publishing activity with the launch of SpringerOpen, a new series of open access journals that will span all STM disciplines. Articles published in SpringerOpen journals will be freely and immediately accessible online, licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution License. BioMed Central, acquired in 2008 by Springer, will provide its expertise and technology to help establish the SpringerOpen portfolio.

Per BioMed Central’s blog on this development:

BioMed Central’s open access publishing expertise and technology will be used by Springer to launch this new series of titles, which will extend the benefits of open access publishing to authors and readers across all disciplines. BioMed Central’s Open Access Membership scheme, offered to institutions, societies, funders and corporations, will be extended to include the SpringerOpen titles. Articles published in SpringerOpen journals will also be sent automatically to participating institutional repositories via BioMed Central’s automated SWORD deposit mechanism.

The SpringerOpen journals will complement Springer’s existing titles and BioMed Central’s growing portfolio of 200+ open access journals in medicine and life science. The first SpringerOpen journals, which will open for submissions shortly, are:

  • Planetary Science
  • Global Energy
  • Journal of Mathematical Neuroscience
  • Health Economics Review
  • Journal of Mathematics in Industry
  • Journal of Remanufacturing
  • Environmental Sciences Europe
  • Security and Intelligence Informatics
  • Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology Express
  • Bulletin of Mathematical Sciences
  • Gold Bulletin
  • Psychology and Well-Being Research