Sunday, February 1, 2009

Belated: Science Online '09 Did Two Things

The first thing it did was have a rhyming name. That was hilarity in a can for a few minutes, or hours. Well, come to think of it, I still think it's funny.
Secondly, it blew my mind. Ok, maybe it didn't blow my mind, but I went primarily to discussions related to open source , and then I also went to a discussion on race in science, one on age (about high school people our methods with regard to science), one on the rights of scientists around the world (the point originally being on those of Serbian scientists; they have few), two around anonymity; one centered around that and the other around the impact of one's known online actions, and then finally I watched a few demos (some people showcasing a few online tools).

Now that I'm somewhat removed in time from the conference, I still remember I took notes. I don't still remember where they are. I've still retained a few things though; first, I remember now that there's such a measure in the world of science called the Impact Factor, being a measure of science journals (citations/number of 'citable articles'). I also remember it being instilled in me by the presenter that not only is that metric stupid (if I may be so bold as to use that word), but that even the concept of a simple metric for a journal is flawed. It was also noted that data on this metric has been monopolized by a lucrative organization and that some journals have had sudden surges of IF value after deals with said unnamed company.
As always, though, I try to ask myself what comes after a supposedly poor system is crushed. How is it replaced, if need be? We didn't really come to a conclusive answer, as far as I could tell. It was brought up that journals, collectively, had done well in the last few centuries of semi-organized science without metrics. That was, presumably, before there were as many journals as there are now that are accessible to everyone.

I'm limited by time for this entry (I started somewhat late), but fear not! I might post more on the subject. One can also check all the other entries online, if they haven't done so already.

No comments: