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twoday.net AGB

A need for non-peer reviewed scientific communication (interrupted)

Sigh. I was drafting a post, enthusiastically sketching the need to non-peer reviewed scientific communication using web technologies, when a friend of mine notified me that work that was carried out in our department was featured on Slashdot. I was not involved in the project now published in PLoS Pathogens other than donating blood once (my poor neutrophils ...) but got curious and paused. So, I went to find out how a technologically and scientifically open and informed group of people would take on the publication. As Bacillus anthracis was studied I was already expecting little interesting considerations of the actual work. I guess, most readers missed the point that we study host-pathogen interaction and that the discoveries are made more on the host side than the bug side. I still was very disappointed with the responses and scrapped my sketch.
I don't want to start bashing Slashdot - it's an interesting place and it's a fairly informed audience. However, I wonder how a "serious" open scientific discussion would work and I am less surprised about the strict rules that for instance PLoS imposes on scientific comments.
What do we need to do to ensure high quality discussion? - moderation only won't work in the very diverse field of the modern sciences as you would have to have editors that are very much skilled in their field and one would practically introduce peer review.
Also, the short-lived comment wave is not stimulating a real discussion. Science blogs and related community pages, in particular those running longer discussions must develop longer threads and thinking to deliver a value that is worth reading and live with small numbers of informed readers. I wonder, whether the reason why there are so few life science blogs about science (not life in the lab or creationists) is caused in part by the need for slower but more thorough formats that are not served by blogs and news groups currently.

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