How Articles Get Noticed and Advance the Scientific Conversation

By Victoria Costello, PLOS Senior Social Media & Community Editor

The good news is you’ve published your manuscript! The bad news? With two million other new research articles likely to be published this year, you face steep competition for readers, downloads, citations and media attention — even if only 10% of those two million papers are in your discipline.

So, how can you get your paper noticed and advance the scientific conversation? 

One word: Tweet.

tweet-imagesA “Tweet” (n.) is an online communication of no more than 140 characters (often containing links), transmitted on the public “social network” known as Twitter. Through the act of “Tweeting,” you enter a conversation of Twitter users.
 

In a PLOS BLOGS guest post, Gozde Ozakinci, Phd (@gozde786), a lecturer in health psychology at the University of St. Andrews, Scotland, offered an exemplary use of Twitter in a research workflow.

I dip in and out during the day and each time I have a nugget of information that I find useful. I feel that with Twitter, my academic world expanded to include many colleagues I wouldn’t otherwise meet. … The information shared on Twitter is so much more current than you would find on journals or conferences.

Of course, Ozakinci and her Twitter-savvy colleagues are still the minority among academic researchers.

An odd coupling, with baggage

To most scientists, for whom an initial meeting with Twitter is the opposite of love at first sight, this conversation may as well be happening on another planet. At first glance, they find Twitter facile, a time suck, beneath them — and go no farther. Missing from this dismissive view is an understanding of Twitter as a neutral medium for communication (280 mil monthly users) that is quickly gaining currency among a leading edge of researchers who are exchanging science news and information, data files, feedback on articles, methods, tools, jobs, grants and more — across continents and disciplines.

If you are among the uninitiated, and have a research article coming out soon, how might you join them? A priori, if your goals are to exploit this medium for your own ends and advance the larger scientific conversation, some conventional wisdom must be jettisoned.

The first thing to let go of is the quaint idea that your science should speak for itself. Second is the fear, still rife among scientists, that the act of communicating research beyond institutional walls puts your reputation at risk for the “Sagan Effect;” or, in more current pop culture terms, that you’ll become the science equivalent of Kim Kardashian. A recent Google+ Hangout from SciFund Challenge, titled Using Social Media without Blowing up Your Scientific Career, offers testimonials from some real life scientists to challenge this outdated view.

By joining the scientific conversation on social media you’re not exactly breaking new ground. A 2015 PEW poll of AAAS members (scientists and others) found that 47% had used social media  to follow or discuss science. Going deeper, in an August 2014 Nature survey, some 60% of 2500 research scientists polled regularly visit Google Scholar (~60%) and ResearchGate (~40%); and, to a lesser extent, Google+, Academia.edu and Linked-in to post CVs and papers — essentially engaging in a one-way form of scholarly communication; talking, not necessarily listening.

Farther ahead on the social media curve is a 13% subset of the Nature group who are involved a two-way conversation with their scientific peers. These scientists describe their use of Twitter, in particular, as a platform to comment on and discuss research that is relevant to their field. Another term for this practice is “micro-blogging.”

If the end game is impact, the way there is engagement

Engagement between authors and readers of research articles comes in many forms,  characterized by rising levels of interaction. A potential range is illustrated in this figure from a PLOS ONE study looking at reader responses to 16 articles in the pain sciences disseminated using social media. As the authors point out, the collection of metrics for more complex levels of reader engagement (impact) is still in a nascent stage. For example, a measurement of the number of readers who apply a newly published research finding to clinical practice is currently not available, although it seems likely that a self-interested tech sector will meet this challenge, and meet it soon.

A 2013 study in PLOS ONE tracked the impact of social media on the dissemination of research articles, with 6 levels of  engagement identified between readers and the published research.

A 2013 study in PLOS ONE tracked the impact of social media on the dissemination of research articles, with 6 levels of engagement identified between readers and the published research.

What about my paper?

As a researcher looking for readers, your imperative is more basic. With many more of your peers going to social media to push out their latest work, the status quo of one-way science communication will no longer suffice. Even if all you’re after is readers for your article, it behooves you to use these newly available tools to stand out in a crowded field.

This is where micro-blogging, and Twitter, in particular, come in. Here are five tips to help you join the growing number of scientists and students who are leading their peers to the likely future of scientific communication.

Tip 1. Get on Twitter and describe yourself in five words or less

To get started on Twitter you must choose a “handle” (user name) which sums you up — in 140 characters or less. This can actually be a very useful exercise. What makes your research contribution different from everyone else’s?

  • To create a pithy Twitter profile and find your peers, follow the model of cancer bioinformatics researcher, B.F. Francis Ouellette (@bffo), by coming up with three to five words to describe your work. Use key words; include methods, disciplines and related fields, institutions, journals, diseases or occupations that relate to your science.

profile

  • Add a photo of yourself or an avatar but save the pic of you kissing your pit bull, like your passion for artisan beers, for your Facebook or Instagram page. (Most scientists wisely keep their personal and professional social media accounts separate).

A PLOS Biology perspective provides an overview of what social media can do for scientists, with a comprehensive primer on how best to get started, including on Twitter.

Tip 2. Tweet the way you talk, not the way you lecture or write your science

If, like most scientists, you’re a collaborator at heart, use Twitter as a place to share your knowledge; mentor and be mentored; discuss and debate the merits of research. Make your Twitter “voice” reflect your real personality. Keep it casual.

back of the napkin

What should you tweet?

  • Recommend links to online content of interest. Say why you’ve singled out that research article or blog post for a mention.
  • Ask questions and flag concerns.
  • Offer deserved compliments and congratulations to your fellow researchers.

A word on word choices

To connect and thrive on Twitter, you must give up the jargon.

  • This tip also applies to the titles of your papers. Turn obtuse technical lingo into plain language, make it catchy, and many more of your peers will click through to read the paper – even those who would have perfectly understood the original title! Here, an author distilled the (not terrible, but terribly long) article title “The Shear Stress of Host Cell Invasion: Exploring the Role of Biomolecular Complexes,” into the tweet below. Got your attention faster, right?

tweet title

  • If your article contains a striking image or figure by all means tweet it too – and not just the cute animals. Even a virus can be a beautiful, especially to your fellow scientists. And, hot off the press, Twitter now allows posting of video clips.

Remember, your immediate goal is to acquire attention for a newly published article. Longer term, you’re after relevance in the ongoing scientific conversation. To track how well you’re doing at both, check out Article Level Metrics (ALMs), which measure impact in terms of views, downloads, comments, citations and media coverage for each of your articles.

Tip 3. Optimize your Twitter time with advanced tools

After finding and interacting with an initial group of your peers by following them, being followed back, tweeting and retweeting items of interest, you’re ready to try some more advanced community and conversation-building tools, including Twitter “lists” and “tweet chats.”

  • A Twitter list is an option on your profile settings which allows you to group together colleagues in one easily accessed virtual file. Tweet to this list when you have something to share with everyone on it.
  • A tweet chat or tweet up is a live, regularly-scheduled Twitter conversation typically used to discuss a single topic or paper. For a good model, visit #PubHT, a biweekly Twitter discussion group on public health issues, described in detail in group member Atif Kukaswadia’s (@Mr_Epid) blog post.

The more ambitious social media-minded researcher can try online curation tools – among them Storify.com and ImpactStory.com — to assemble tweets, which they can then post in blogs as topical science stories, conference reports or on altmetrics-based CVs.

Tip 4. Go where the scientific conversation goes 

Most authors would probably prefer that readers of research articles say whatever they have to say about their work in the comments section immediately below the article on the publisher’s website. And yet, as discussed above, this train has already left the station; like it or not, the conversation has moved.

In the view of Jonathan Eisen (@phyogenomics), academic editor-in-chief of PLOS Biology and a prolific blogger and tweeter, formal comments sections will continue to lose any participation they once had.

“I guarantee there are more comments on Twitter about a PLOS paper,” he said.

To become a part of this fast-growing culture of decentralized assessment of scientific research, try using Twitter to share your (abbreviated ) feedback on new articles. Then add a link to the published article — which may or may not contain a longer version of your comment.

pmri conversation

Hopefully, Professor Eisen’s prediction isn’t yet a done deal and publishers, including PLOS, will fully rise to the challenge of making continuous assessment of the research a “no brainer” both on and off journal sites.

For its part, PLOS is facilitating scientist-to-scientist communication in discipline-specific communities. These dedicated PLOS pages are run by Community Editors external to PLOS, who are supported by staff and academic editors from the PLOS journals. Community editors crowdsource researcher feedback on previously published articles contained in PLOS Collections, and new research published by PLOS and other non-PLOS journals. This program began in 2014 with PLOS Neuroscience and PLOS Synthetic Biology, with others to be added in 2015. Critiques (comments) on research articles are posted in a community blog featuring original and syndicated posts, with blog posts amplified by real-time micro-blogging from Twitter lists posted on these same pages.

Meanwhile, the Twitter part of this larger scientific conversation is here to stay, no matter where it “lives.” For a model of how Twitter, Facebook, Linked-in and WordPress blogging can be integrated into an academic science work flow, particularly that of early career researchers and students, read this blog post from Stewart Barker, a 1st year PhD student in microbiology at The University of Sheffield.

Tip 5. Use Twitter to crowdsource your science as an information provider and recipient

We start from the premise that the scientific community can reliably be counted on to “root out the rubbish.” Rubbish in this context usually refers to bad science, or misleading interpretations of good research.

crowd source
In a similar vein, science-based Twitter networks are proving to be rich and reliable sources for rapidly offering and receiving highly specialized information – with questions and answers flowing from scientist to scientist and between scientists and science journalists. For an example of the latter,  journalist Seth Mnookin (@SethMnookin) describes crowdsourcing a complex genetics question while on a tight deadline, with help arriving just in time from UCLA geneticist Leonid Kruglayak (@leonidkruglayak).

SciComm ripple effects

The ongoing adoption of Twitter is having a measurable effect on individual scientists in terms of increased productivity and readership, even if the jury is still out on a correlation between Tweets and citations.

Beyond the individual benefits for scientists who incorporate Twitter into their research life cycles, altmetrics researcher (and coiner of the term) Jason Priem, writing in 2011, saw scientists interacting on Twitter as a “revolutionary form of scholarly communication,” one which could “transform centuries-old publishing practices into a much more efficient and organic vast registry of intellectual transactions.” 

“Registry” is an interesting choice of words in that it suggests a permanent record. Seemingly transient, the 140 characters you tweet today remain accessible far longer than you might think (Twitter has recognized the value customers place on the ability to recreate their tweeting histories and have made it possible to go back a full seven years – the entire lifetime of Twitter – to find up to 3200 tweets per user). There’s even talk of giving tweets their own Digital Object Identifiers or DOIs. Meanwhile, the Modern Language Association (MLA) provides a standard format for citing a single tweet in an academic manuscript.

Embrace the wider effects. Once you find your voice and engage with fellow scientists via online social networks, you will draw the attention of science journalists with direct access to an international online audience of readers you cannot reach on your own. Fortunately, your needs and theirs are symbiotic: science writers need research news and you can supply it. How likely they are to select your article, and how accurately they interpret the essence and significance of your findings, depend on how widely and clearly you communicate your science — after your research article is published.  This is where your institution’s Public Information Office (PIO) can play a pivotal role, especially if you stay involved by checking the press release for clarity and accuracy and by exploiting your own network for outreach.

In the view of many in the broad scientific community, your job doesn’t end there.

 In light of the recent PEW poll revealing large gaps between scientists’ and public views on critical scientific issues, many scientists are re-evaluating their individual responsibility to communicate directly with the general public. If, as UK Chief Scientific Advisor Sir Mark Walport recently told a meeting of climate scientists, “Science isn’t finished until it’s communicated,” it follows that scientists’ use of large public social media platforms such as Twitter to explain their science will be increasingly considered a vital part of a researcher’s work flow.

How might the wider adoption of social media impact the entire scientific enterprise? Join the conversation and you’ll be among the first to find out.

A PLOS invitation: no time like the present

If you have an article coming out any time soon, this just may be a Goldilocks moment for you and your research team to take the plunge into Twitter.

egPzKiqc_400x400

To celebrate our recently passed milestone of reaching 70,000 Twitter followers (200K if we include all PLOS journals), PLOS has an invitation for you. If you’ll take a moment now to create your own Twitter account, then follow us @PLOS, we will strive to be among the first to follow you back.

And, while you’re choosing who else to follow, please consider any or all of the following suite of PLOS journals:

@PLOSONE

@PLOSMedicine

@PLOSBiology

@PLOSPathogens

@PLOSNTDs

@PLOSCompbiol

@PLOSGenetics

Thank you and we’ll see you on Twitter!

 

 

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2014: By the Numbers

BLOG_Infographic_proof-16_02.18.2015PLOS enters its 12th year poised to deliver innovations that will make science publishing easier, faster and more satisfying. Thanks to everyone involved, we draw on a robust peer review community, high author satisfaction and global reach to be a leading Open Access publisher. At the core, though, it’s the articles that matter. In 2014 PLOS published more than 33,000.

In 2014, readers worldwide viewed approximately 11.6 million PLOS articles each month, published by authors from more than 200 countries with the assistance of nearly 7,000 academic editors and 90,000 reviewers.

Quality reporting by our authors in their research articles, deep dives into key topics by authors and editors in collections, thought-provoking perspectives by the community and discipline-specific channels for discussion bring readers to the approximately 135,000 articles published since 2003.

Click the image to view the full infographic.

 

 

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Researchers Changing the Way We Respond to Epidemics with Wikipedia and Twitter

“A global disease-forecasting system will change the way we respond to epidemics.”  Dr. Sara Del Valle, Los Alamos National Laboratory

The media and broad scientific community have taken note of a fast-growing segment of research known as digital epidemiology. Examples:

  • A system to forecast 28 days in advance where influenza will strike hardest based on localized Wikipedia searches
  • A basis for predicting which communities will see more cases of flu resulting from vaccination decisions as revealed by geographically-based Twitter sentiments.
map

Figure 1. Map generated by more than 250 million public tweets with high-resolution location information, March 2011 – January 2012. Inset shows greater Los Angeles area. Brightness of color corresponds to geographic density of tweets. doi:10.1371/journal.pcbi.1002616.g001

Described by PLOS Computational Biology Associate Editor Marcel Salathé as a “mix of exciting science, modern everyday technology and public health,” this interdisciplinary approach is developing just in time to meet increased demand for improved forecasting of infectious disease outbreaks before they reach epidemic or pandemic stages.

A significant driver for the quantitative and qualitative breakthroughs setting these papers apart from previous work in the field was the openness of the raw data underlying their findings and the source codes underlying their models, as well as the openness of the research processes and final publications.

PLOS journals and blogs actively cover this transformational research:

  • “Digital data sources, when harnessed appropriately, can provide local and timely information about disease and health dynamics in populations around the world,” write PLOS Computational Biology Editors in Editors Outlook: Digital Epidemiology, published 26 Jul 2012
  • “In the same way we check the weather each morning, individuals and public health officials can monitor disease incidence and plan for the future based on today’s forecast,” says Sara Del Valle, coauthor of the PLOS Computational Biology research article, Global Disease Monitoring and Forecasting with Wikipedia, published November 13, 2014

To receive email notices of new articles published by PLOS Computational Biology go here.

 

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Publishing Initiatives at PLOS: Improving the Author Experience

The last few months have brought exciting developments at PLOS, and we’ll be doing more in 2015 to make the publishing experience with PLOS even better. Today’s post will talk about just some of what is new now and due in the near term.  We will have much more coming as the year progresses.

We are implementing a number of exciting publishing-related changes aimed at improving the author and community experience. Specifically, these projects aim to reduce time to publication, reduce post-publication correction rates, and above all, provide our community greater access to scientific research – the reason PLOS exists.  Many of these projects will occur behind the scenes and will serve as the pillars of future initiatives, while others will be more visible to the community.

New PDF Design

One of these foundational projects began late last year, aimed at optimizing our production processes for speed and accuracy.  We have implemented a new, single column PDF design that will enable a more efficient composition process, while improving readability on the variety of devices used by the community.  This month, in order to streamline the editorial and production processes across all the journals, we added guidance and information to our author instructions. These new requirements set the foundation for more automated processes that will increase the speed with which PLOS makes published research available online.

New Composition Vendor

In addition we have been shifting workflows and vendors behind the scenes, including transitioning to a new composition vendor. These changes are focused on improving our quality assurance and typesetting processes, and increasing overall publishing efficiency across all seven of our journals.   Results that authors and readers will see in coming weeks and months include continuous publishing schedules for all journals (not just PLOS ONE), whereby papers are published as soon as they are ready; a new tool for authors that will actively assist them in preparing figures for submission; and the gradual introduction of an author proofing step for several journals later this year.

A Temporary Slow-Down for Long Term Gains 

These changes require that PLOS build out new and improved workflows and carefully develop new ways of handling the thousands of manuscripts received each month. In the short term, this will certainly affect our speed to publication and publication volumes. Readers and authors may notice this, but the end result will be gains in speed, efficiency, and quality that will be worth the delays during this transition.

While we work to achieve these ambitious goals, we appreciate the patience shown by our authors and our community.  We’re excited to carry on our mission to accelerate progress in science and medicine by leading a transformation in research communication and thank our many supporters and contributors who make this work possible.

 


 

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Formatting Your Article for Submission: Updated figures, tables, new reference style and LaTex template

PLOS has recently updated our formatting requirements for submitted manuscripts across all seven of our journals. These changes allow us to streamline some of our production work, reducing the overall time to publication for the average article.

As an author, you can help your manuscript move quickly and smoothly through our editorial and production process by properly formatting your submission. Where these guidelines are not followed, the manuscript may be returned to you before we can proceed with an accept decision, and this will slow the time to publication.

Read below about some of the key changes, or use our author guidelines located at the end of this post for a full picture of how to submit and prepare your submission.

Figure Updates

PLOS has updated some of our figure requirements, most notably regarding naming conventions for citations, captions and files themselves. Below is a quick snapshot of these changes, but read our Figure Guidelines for our full requirements:

  • Refer to your figure in-text citations as “Fig. #”, for instance, “Fig. 1” or “Fig. 2”.
  • Ensure that your figure file names also match this formatting, as “Fig#.file extension”. For example, “Fig1.tif” or “Fig2.eps”.
  • Each figure should be single page.
  • Place your figure legends after the paragraph where the figure is first cited.

We are working with one of our vendors on a new tool that will allow authors to easily check their figures for compliance, and in some cases automatically format the figures themselves. The tool is in testing now, and we hope to make it available to authors as soon as possible.

New Reference Style

PLOS has adopted a standard reference style, NLM/ICMJE. Please ensure your reference list is properly formatted to this style guide. You can also download the PLOS reference style at EndNote.

Tables and Boxes

Tables and boxes should now be placed with their legends in the text of the manuscript, after the paragraph where the table is first cited. This will allow for faster processing as well as easier reading for our editors and reviewers. Please be sure your tables are cell-based in Word, or embedded from Excel.

Supporting Information Updates

Supporting Information in-text citations and captions should meet PLOS’ standard style, which is “S# Category”. Common categories include Appendix, Checklist, Dataset, Figure, File, Movie, Protocol, Supporting Information, Table, Text, Video.  For example, “S1 Appendix” or “S2 Table”

The file name should also match the format of the in-text citation and the caption, as “S#_Category.file extension”. For example “S1_Appendix.doc” or “S2_Table.xls”.

New LaTeX Template

In order to provide better services for authors writing in LaTeX, PLOS has revised our LaTeX template to allow for much greater flexibility in handling packages and macros. Please use this template when preparing your LaTeX submission. For further information on LaTeX submissions to PLOS journals, read through our guidelines. Where this template is not used, the manuscript may be returned to you before we can proceed with an accept decision, and this will slow the time to publication.

Our staff will be available to assist you as your manuscript moves through our review process, and if accepted, through our composition process. Thank you for your support of PLOS and open-access.

PLOS ONE Manuscript Guidelines

PLOS Medicine Manuscript Guidelines

PLOS Biology Manuscript Guidelines

PLOS Computational Biology Manuscript Guidelines

PLOS Genetics Manuscript Guidelines

PLOS Pathogens Manuscript Guidelines

PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases Manuscript Guidelines

 

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PLOS Announces Website Redesign

PLOS is pleased to announce the redesign of PLOS.org, which completes phase two of our website overhaul. The new landing page now enables visitors to navigate more quickly and easily to the information they need. Highlights of the new site also include a rotating carousel of PLOS’ most recent announcements, a news feed and a featured article from our suite of journals.

Phase one of our overhaul  last year included updates to the journal websites. We are always looking to improve. Please send PLOS feedback as you navigate the new site. Comments are welcome at feedback@plos.org. Thank you for supporting PLOS and its mission to transform research communication.

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PLOS Welcomes CC v4.0 Licenses

PLOS has been using the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) license for almost 10 years as the default for the research that it publishes. On November 25, 2013, Creative Commons unveiled the next generation of open licenses to support the sharing of content. The new licenses are the result of an open community process with stakeholders from a wide range of domains, including research, education, and the creative arts, and PLOS is proud to have been involved in the effort to make the licenses work for researchers.

Two aspects of the Version 4.0 licenses are particularly important for researchers because they address issues that could have made reuse of published research more cumbersome. Firstly, the re-use rights for data within an article are made clearer and more consistent between different countries and regions.

Second, the licenses provide flexibility on attribution. This is important for research, and particularly for text and data mining, where a multitude of articles might be analyzed together. It doesn’t make sense to list every paper analyzed with each and every search result. It does make sense to link from each result to a page recognizing all the contributions. The new licenses still absolutely require attribution but allow all attributions to a large corpus to be collected together.

Another important aspect of the new licenses is that they combine the experience of several years of developing localized license variants into one international license, ensuring global compatibility and ease of use for all researchers, wherever they may be based.

PLOS will be publishing new articles under CC BY v4.0 beginning in mid-December for PLOS ONE and from January 1, 2014 for all other PLOS journals.

The CC BY license has long been an important part of realizing our aim, of creating the largest possible pool of accessible, re-usable and interoperable research content possible. Open Access is about more than content being free to read; it must also be free to re-use, and re-combine, not just with other articles, but with all forms of research information. The new version of the Creative Commons licenses, the global standard for web based content, is an important part of the toolkit for making that vision possible.

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Letter to the Editor of Science, by Elizabeth Marincola

The following ‘letter to the editor’ was submitted to Science October 4, 2013 and was published on Sciencemag.org December 5, 2013.

_____________________________________________

John Bohannon’s News story “Who’s afraid of peer review?” (special section on Communication in Science, 4 October, p. 60) incriminates many Open Access (OA) journals. Our journal, PLOS ONE, was not implicated. It rejected the fraudulent paper promptly and for the right reasons, as Bohannon acknowledges. Still, the “study” was disappointing: It was not controlled, which would have required seeking to entrap a matched set of closed-access journals, yet it claims that a source of the problem is open access. It then concludes that profitability for OA journals is driven by volume, without acknowledging that the same is true for closed-access journals.  The issues raised by Bohannon’s exercise are not about open access journals; they are about science and technical publishing and the peer review processes used throughout the industry.

In the short term, all scientific publishers have a responsibility to reinforce and strengthen pre-publication review. We must improve the efficiency of peer review and continue to perform checks that uncover conflicts of interest, identify financial disclosures, confirm author affiliations, and ensure compliance with international standards of animal and human testing.

Even with these tools, peer review will never be flawless. As Editor-in-Chief Marcia McNutt points out, it is “time-honored” and “the gold standard” (Editorial, p. 13), but that doesn’t mean our methods of evaluation can’t and shouldn’t be improved. This is the real challenge. And this is why PLOS is working to transform scientific communication by developing better measures of scientific quality both before publication (currently traditional peer review) and after publication (currently the dreaded impact factor).

To this end, PLOS is developing Article Level Metrics (ALMs) that enable the scientific community itself to confer on a research contribution its credibility, relevance, and importance, independent of the journal in which it is published. Peer review at its best is a continual process of critique and assessment.

Elizabeth Marincola

Chief Executive Officer, The Public Library of Science, San Francisco, CA 94111, USA. E-mail: emarincola@plos.org
Category: Alt-Metrics, Open Access, Publishing | Leave a comment

Sign up today to have Amazon donate to PLOS

Now when you shop with Amazon, via AmazonSmile, 0.5% of eligible purchases can be donated to PLOS, at no cost to you.

PLOS will direct proceeds from this program to support authors who are unable to pay all or part of their publication fees.

Sign up today to help PLOS remove barriers to participation in Open Access publishing.

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ANNOUNCING THE RECIPIENTS FOR THE ACCELERATING SCIENCE AWARD PROGRAM

The three award recipients for the Accelerating Science Award Program (ASAP)  were announced today in Washington, DC at the Open Access Week kickoff event hosted by the Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition (SPARC) and the World Bank. ASAP recognizes the use of scientific research, published through Open Access, that has led to innovations benefiting society. Major sponsors include the Wellcome Trust, PLOS and Google.

From left: Carlos Rossel of The World Bank, Robert Kiley of Wellcome Trust, Daniel Mietchen, Alex Kozak of Google, Nitika Pant Pai, Elizabeth Marincola of PLOS, Matt Todd, Heather Joseph of SPARC (click photo to view)

 

 

 

 

 

 

The award recipients, along with the challenges they address and their innovative approaches, include:

  • Global Collaboration to Fight Malaria (Matthew Todd, PhD):  At least one child dies of malaria every minute of every day, mainly in Africa and Asia. According to Matthew Todd, who leads the Open Source Malaria Consortium, given minimal financial incentives for pharmaceutical companies to develop new treatments and a high degree of suffering among the affected communities, a large-scale and open collaborative research model provides a solution. Todd turned publicly available data into a global effort to help identify new anti-malaria drugs.  He did this by creating an open source collaboration involving scientists, college students and others from around the world. They use open online laboratory notebooks in which their experimental data is posted each day, enabling instant sharing and the ability to build on others’ findings in almost real time. 

“This recognition may help enlist more people into the collaborative effort to fight malaria,” said Dr. Matthew Todd. “If we succeed with these efforts, the approach could be extended to fighting other diseases – such as cancer.”

 

  • HIV Self-Test App Empowers Patients (Nitika Pant Pai, MD, MPH, PhD, Caroline Vadnais, Roni Deli-Houssein and Sushmita Shivkumar):  To increase awareness, knowledge and access to a convenient HIV screening option, and to expedite connections to treatment in nations hardest hit by the disease, Dr. Nitika Pant Pai and medical staff at McGill University and McGill University Health Centre, Montreal, developed a smartphone application as part of a self-testing strategy that synergized the Internet, an oral fluid–based self-test and a smartphone. This integrated approach included HIV education, an online test to determine HIV risk level, instructions to self-testing and interpreting the results, and confidential linkages and resources for referrals to trained counselors. The personalized smartphone application, developed on the basis of original research published in multiple Open Access journals, helps circumvent the social visibility associated with HIV testing in a healthcare facility. The application could alleviate fears of stigma and discrimination and make HIV detection simple, non-judgmental and confidential while empowering individuals with distilled scientific knowledge.

 

“Being an award recipient will help shine light on the fact that open access acts like a catalyst – by allowing unrestricted knowledge sharing – it exponentiates the power of knowledge to transform and impact lives beyond borders, boundaries, languages, and regions; facilitates creation of novel innovations, improved practices and policies,”  said Dr. Nitika Pant Pai. “With our synergistic innovation (application), we created a patient desired non-judgmental, private option that empowers proactive individuals to self-educate, stage, and seek linkages for HIV.”

 

  • Visualizing Complex Science (Daniel Mietchen, PhD, Raphael Wimmer and Nils Dagsson Moskopp): Many aspects critical to understanding science, experiments and the natural world are hard to convey using only words and diagrams. Good quality multimedia can help make that understanding easier. Daniel Mietchen and his group created the Open Access Media Importer (OAMI), a bot that can find and download supplementary multimedia files from reusably licensed Open Access research articles deposited in PubMed Central and uploads them to Wikimedia Commons, the media  repository used by the Wikipedias and their sister projects.  To date, the bot has uploaded more than 14,000 files that are being used in more than 200 English Wikipedia articles and many more in other languages that together garner about three million monthly views.

 

“We want people to play around with scientific materials and to engage with scientific processes,” said Dr. Daniel Mietchen. “Scientific research should play a more public role in our society, and open licenses greatly facilitate that. We are glad that the award highlights the value of reusing, revising, remixing and redistributing Open Access materials.”

OAs award recipients, these individuals and teams are being honored for addressing a real-world challenge by reusing previously published Open Access research to make a difference in science, medicine, business, technology or society as a whole.  Open Access is the free, immediate online availability of articles, coupled with the rights to use these articles fully as long as the author and the original source are properly attributed.

Photos and video interviews of the winning recipients and honorable mentions can be found at https://sites.google.com/site/asaptoolkit/ .  Additional information on ASAP can be found at http://asap.plos.org/

The ASAP program sponsors share a commitment to affect policy and public understanding to support the adoption of Open Access. They include the Association of College & Research Libraries (ACRL), the Association of Research Libraries (ARL), Co-Action Publishing, Copernicus Publications, Creative Commons, the Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ), Doris Duke Charitable Trust, Electronic Information for Libraries (EIFL), eLife, Hindawi, Health Research Alliance (HRA), Howard Hughes Medical Institute, ImpactStory, Jisc, Max Planck Society for the Advancement of Science, Mendeley, Microsoft Research, the Open Access Scholarly Publishers Association (OASPA), Research Councils UK (RCUK), Research Libraries UK (RLUK), Social Science Research Network (SSRN), the Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition (SPARC), SURF (Netherlands), the World Bank, and major sponsors Google, PLOS and the Wellcome Trust.

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