The Future of Research Communications and e-Scholarship

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Anita de Waard From the Force11 Manifesto:

“One must no longer think of the journal article or research paper as the standard unit of currency by which knowledge is exchanged. Now it is but one among many forms. In the most generic sense, the new form of knowledge exchange centers on the research object [De Roure and Goble, 2009, Bechhofer et al., 2010], a container for a number of related digital objects—for example a paper with associated datasets, workflows, software packages, etc., that are all the products of a research investigation and that together encapsulate some new understanding. Publishing of research objects is not necessarily publishing as we know it today, achieved by the same mechanisms as used for traditional scholarly articles. It consists of providing free and open access to the component parts of the research object, that may or may not have been individually reviewed by others either pre- or post-publication.”

To create such knowledge objects, we need not just new tools, but new ways of thinking about how and when and why we document our work. We are no longer writing merely to be understood by[1] or persuasive[2][3] to humans, but equally, or even more so, to allow our research to be integrated, rated, linked, and digested by the various software tools which form the backbone of the scholarly knowledge infrastructure[4]. We need our (id)entities to be identified[5][6][7]; our workflows to be shareable[8][9][10]; our data lifecycles to be recorded[11] and stored[12][13] in a solid, provenance-aware[14], semantically enabled[15][16][17] way. This means that we are aware, at every step of our research, that what we are doing will need to be recorded and could be re-evaluated [18] by reviewers[19], readers, collaborators and competitors. We need to teach ourselves, our students, our readers and our peers about rigorous methods of storing everything we can about the objects we study and create, the processes we perform, and the stories we craft about our scholarship before, during and after the fact.

A few examples of tools and thoughts about doing this are listed in our Tools and Resources section; hopefully this will be a living[20] (liquid[21]?) document that can help as a list of pertinent sites to visit, in search for the right toolkit to tackle this digital jungle. Maintaining a list of tools and examplars of research documentation done well can help us use each others’ work in the best possible way – asking our own questions, but – in terms of tools, at least – joining our fellow scholars in inventing this future. Or, as Alan Kay put it: “The whole idea of having scientists and technology is that those things you can envision and describe can actually be built.”[22]

[2] "Net-Centric Scholarly Discourse?." 2011. 21 May. 2012 <>

[3] "From Proteins to Fairytales: Directions in Semantic Publishing." 2011. <>

[4] de Waard, A. "The Future of the Journal? Integrating research data with scientific …" 2010. <>

[5] "Welcome to ORCID | ORCID." 2012. 21 May. 2012 <>

[6] Mons, B. "BMC Bioinformatics | Full text | Which gene did you mean?." 2005. <>

[7] "Neuroscience Information Framework." 2010. 21 May. 2012 <>

[8] De Roure, David, Carole Goble, and Robert Stevens. "Designing the myexperiment virtual research environment for the social sharing of workflows." e-Science and Grid Computing, IEEE International Conference on 10 Dec. 2007: 603-610.

[9] "Workflow Sharing Interest Group — Kepler." 2009. 21 May. 2012 <>

[10] "Workflow Sharing." 2009. 21 May. 2012 <>

[11] "Data Lifecycle Models and Concepts – WGISS – CEOS." 2011. 21 May. 2012 <>

[12] "DataCite | Helping you to find, access, and reuse research data." 2009. 21 May. 2012 <>

[13] "The Dataverse Network." 21 May. 2012 <>

[14] "Provenance Working Group – Provenance WG Wiki." 2011. 21 May. 2012 <>

[15] "Semantic data model – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia." 2007. 21 May. 2012 <>

[16] "Linked Data – W3C." 2009. 21 May. 2012 <>

[17] "Open PHACTS Home." 2011. 21 May. 2012 <>

[18] "Hausergate: Scientific Misconduct and What We Know We Don't …" 2010. 21 May. 2012 <>

[19] Cameron Neylon. "P ≠ NP and the future of peer review – Cameron Neylon." 2010. 21 May. 2012 <>

[20] "Living document – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia." 2006. 21 May. 2012 <>

[21] "Liquid Publications: Scientific Publications meet the Web …" 2007. 21 May. 2012 <>

[22] "Predicting The Future." 21 May. 2012 <>