I've been to all the SOLO meetings (Aug/Sept) and really enjoyed them. The earlier ones concentrated on blogging and it was a great way to meet other bloggers. They have gradually moved towards adding other types of online activity, with a strong sense of doing stuff. Last year I was pre-occupied as we had organized a monthlong hacakathon to search patents for chemistry using text-mining. (We are forbidden to do this for scientific papers). As with many of my barmy ideas we just managed it with minutes to go…
This time (http://www.scienceonlinelondon.org/ ) was more relaxed for me – I wasn't presenting anything. There were thousands of tweets - #solo11 which will give you a good idea. So here are my highlights:
- Michael Nielsen – theoretical physicist turned into Open Science evangelist and doing lots of lectures in Europe (http://michaelnielsen.org/blog/visiting-europe/ ). Try to go if you can. We had a long series of talks earlier this year in Utah. Michael had looked at the principles of collective action (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Logic_of_Collective_Action ), ranging from how trades unions started (in small groups) to how Valencia managed its upstream river basin to avoid the "tragedy of the commons". Michael's takehome was that it is very difficult to change from a local optimum (I agree in general) and that it is slow. Anyone altering the status quo lays themselves open to freeloaders. This applies to reforming scholarly communications and creating Open science. I felt it was slightly pessimistic, and feel that funders and governments may be able to exert influence. But I have taken to heart that one should start smallish, aim for the achievable, do it well, and allow for time. (Which is, I hope, what my various schemes conform to).
- Ivan Oransky (Retraction Watch - http://retractionwatch.wordpress.com/ ). RW is a great site. I'd dropped in before, but now I see it as mainstream . How can we make sure that the blogosphere's work in challenging bad published science is respected and recorded? RW is a great start. What we need – and I have ideas – is a tool where referees can be alerted as to whether one of more authors "have previous". I have just seen an example of a re-publication of bad science, where I ask "how can the referees possibly have let that through. It's not just wrong, but the blogosphere has trashed it – and the referees are oblivious. And many journals don't seem to care
- MaryAnn Martone, Neuroscience Information Framework (NIF), Spinal Muscular Atrophy Foundation (SMA). SMA is a genetic disease of children – fatal over unpredictable timescales. The SMA is committed to funding research that is targeted to deliver real value to patients in an aggressive timescale. They are not interested in impact factors, but research that makes a difference now. She highlighted that at the moment scientists compete and occasionally collaborate. But we should be looking for cooperation and coordination. That's common in Open Source software which is why it has such a strong resonance with Open Science. Effective achievement of measurable goals is more important than individual brilliance. And I think that charities are perhaps the major force that could make this happen. Less glory, more progress.
- VIVO . An interdisciplinary national network Enabling collaboration and discovery among scientists across all disciplines.
And our own session on Open Research Reports (run by David Shotton , supported by Tanya Gray). This will create Open material for disease science and we'll be doing this at a SWAT2LS hackathon in December in London. But that deserves its own post.
A fantastic meeting and a very broad and valuable delegate list. Thanks to everyone.