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July 8, 2007

Publishing Versus Posting: Nature Magazine Turns to a Conversational Content Model

From O'Reilley Radar is this announcement from Timo Hannay of Nature:

The traditional way for scientists to share their research results is through journals. These have the benefit of being peer-reviewed, citable and archival, but as a communication channel they are also relatively slow and expensive. As a complement to this, scientists also use more immediate and informal approaches, such as preprints (i.e., unpublished manuscripts), conference papers and presentations. The trouble is, these usually aren't easy to share in a truly globally way (most repositories are institution- or funder-specific), and you can't formally cite them (which is important because citation underlies the scientific credit system).

Nature Precedings is trying to overcome those limitations by giving researchers a place to post documents such as preprints and presentations in a way that makes them globally visible and citable. Submissions are filtered by a team of curators to weed out obviously inappropriate material, but there's no peer-review so accepted contributions appear online very quickly -- usually within a couple of hours. The content is all released under a Creative Commons Attribution License, and each item is made citable using a DOI or Handle (the same systems used for peer-reviewed scholarly papers).

A similar approach has long been the norm in physics, where the the arXiv.org preprint server at Cornell provides an indispensible source of up-to-the-minute reports (the main reason that Nature Precedings doesn't attempt to cover physics). We're hoping to catalyse a similar degree of openness and cooperation among researchers in other disciplines. Because Nature Precedings isn't peer-reviewed (to be more accurate, the submissions are subjected to open review *after* their release, through user comments and votes), we see it as complementing rather than competing with traditional journals, just as arXiv.org operates alongside the peer-reviewed journals in physics.

The service is free to authors and readers alike.

In a recent entry in ContentBlogger, John Blossom compares Nature's portal with PLoS ONE, preferring the latter even though there are fees associated with it.

Posted by P. Kaufman at July 8, 2007 9:56 AM