I had an amazing time at Beyond the PDF 2 in Amsterdam (March 19-20). Thanks to the travel fellowship sponsored by Elsevier. This event was a great opportunity to meet people with diverse backgrounds (scholars, technologists, policy experts, librarians, start-ups, publishers, …) all interested in making scholarly and research communication better. Let me show you some personal highlights about this conference.
During these two days, we had two great keynotes. One of them was Kathleen Fitzpatrick from the Modern Language Association. She discussed how it is essential for humanities to embrace new forms of scholarly communication. For instance, blogs; which provide a faster alternative for disseminating information in comparison to more traditional channels, such as books. In my opinion, the blog is a winner in accessibility. But, the book still has better quality control.
Another keynote, Carol Tenopir (Chancellor’s Professor at the School of Information Sciences at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville) discussed the practice of reading for academics. She has done in-depth tracking of how scientists read. The scholars read more now than ever; scholarly material remains essential for research and teaching. But, the way they find information and read is changing. She also pointed out that e-books have been gaining a lot of popularity.
Demos and Posters
I found a lot of interesting tools to improve scholarly communication. One of them, the StemBook. It was presented by Lisa Girard, it is a portal of topics related to stem cell biology and protocols, allowing the scientific community to keep their findings up to date. Also, I found very interesting to see Domeo; this is a tool that supports annotation of scientific documents, it was developed by Paolo Ciccarese. Aleix Garrido from Intelligent Software Components (iSOCO), showed a prototype that indicates the reliability of scientiﬁc workﬂows by measuring and monitoring the completeness and stability of this information over time. Finally, Daniel Garijo from the Ontology Engineering Group, talked about how to quantify the reproducibility of Tuberculosis Drugome workflow. I hope all these ideas surpass the prototype stage and soon become real for everyone to use.
Making it happen
This section was programed the second day. Asunción Gómez Pérez from the Ontology Engineering Group talked about the SEALS evaluation platform, which allows reproducing the different tests of an experiment automatically. Also, during this section the organizers we gave a challenge….What would you do with 1k today that would change scholarly communication for the better? and of course, I am participating in this challenge. I want to stimulate the analysis of 100 pre-selected published papers (centered on “Materials and Methods”) for reproducibility purposes. This idea is related with my research exposed in a flash talk during the section vision of the future.
People making connections
It was great to see publishers, technologists, researchers and librarians talking to each other. An interesting outcome is the http://scholrev.org/ working group. They are aiming at changing and challenging the status quo. Although yet too early… it is refreshing to see people willing to push the change not from the mainstream but from the grassroots -these are usually the movements that deliver significant deep changes. There is the CITAGORA project, sorry but I did not get a URL for it 🙂 It seems they are trying to extract just some meaningful information from scientific PDFs. They are enriching the bibliographic reference by jailbreaking the corresponding PDF. Once liberated, then they are addressing extracting specifics from the content. The result of this extraction is being modeled as RDF and located around the initial bibliographic reference; in this way the resulting dataset is enriched.