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I want to preface this by saying I will probably never ever need to use this tool – but it was really awesome sounding so I wanted to share it with you all!

Hilary Spencer from Nature came to talk at the NFAIS meeting about Nature Precedings and Nature Network.

Nature Precedings allows scientists to post pre and post publication research papers and presentations to share with the community. It allows for documents that were not previously available to be open to the scientific research community. While similar to arXiv, it is not a replacement or competitor. ArXiv is for documents from the Physics and Math research communities.

The problem with Precedings as I see it is that each item is pre-screened to make sure it’s being submitted by a valid scientific community member. If Precedings is going to grow the way they hope it will (and the way I think it will) they’re going to have to come up with a more convenient method for adding content – or the process is going to slow down under the load. A possible answer to this is using information from Nature Network to validate the content being submitted to Precedings.

Nature Network is like Facebook for scientists – but very very protected. Users are screened to make sure that they are who they say they are and that they have something to contribute to the scientific community. Each profile on Network has a list of publications for the member – possibly allowing the people at Nature to write a script to check submissions to Precedings against Network – eliminating the human element and speeding the process along. While Hilary mentioned something like this – most of this is conjecture on my part.

This is a great step – especially since it’s being made by a publishing company. Unfortunately, they’re only one publishing company and many others have rules that prohibit the publishing of papers in their journals if they appear in any form elsewhere. This is an issue that Nature is dealing with – and to start they are promising that they will consider items in Precedings for publishing if they are submitted by the authors. Other issues include people being afraid of sharing their research and having it stolen – a valid fear – and another that Nature is addressing. Nature is making times in the Precedings depository citeable so that original authors can show that they came up with the idea first.

Overall, it seems like a great tool – and something that will be a great benefit to the scientific community – I hope it continues to grow and that we see similar tools for other disciplines.

[update] Originally I was calling Precedings by the wrong name. I have changed all occurances of Proceedings to Precedings (which is the right name). [/update]

[update2] Hilary has corrected me. Precedings screens members, but Network does not. [/update2]

4 Responses so far.

  1. I did wonder whether Nature’s choice of name was a little too subtle.

    It is Nature Precedings.

  2. Nicole says:

    Oops – I’ll fix that – I was a little tired last night as I wrote this :)

  3. Hilary Spencer says:

    Thanks for your feedback Nicole–I’m glad to hear that you think the project will benefit the community!

    A quick correction: *Precedings* screens contributors to make sure that they are who they say they are and that they have something to contribute to the scientific community. This usually means having a recognized academic affiliation.

    Network does not screen members.

  4. Nicole says:

    Thanks for pointing that out – I took terrible notes ;) I have corrected the above post.


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