I thought, “Let’s try something new.” ... I’ve also been paying attention to the people who say that scientific publishing is broken, and we should blow it up and start over. Lots of those people are basically advocating what I just did yesterday: “just blog the paper.” ...
Could blogging research work?
The acid test for whether blogging research could work is the same acid test for any academic product: do other people find it useful enough to re-use it? Usually, they show this by citing it. Admittedly, some journals are very narrow minded in what they allow you to cite, so that’s a big barrier for showing that others are using non-traditional online resources like pre-prints, blog posts, etc.
But I’m pleased to report that my crazy “self-published on a blog” paper has just got its first citation in an academic journal (Kooy, in press)!
As I expected, though, it’s being cited not because of the biology, but because it’s a paper on a blog.
Some scholars even post their research data and findings to their blogs.32
32 See for example, Zen Faulkes, “The Distal Leg Motor Neurons of Slipper Lobsters, Ibacus Spp. (Decapoda, Scyllaridae)," NeuroDojo, September 6, 2012, accessed January 3, 2015, http://neurodojo.blogspot.com/2012/09/Ibacus.html.
I expected this. The paper has been viewed 3,947 times, according to Blogger. The companion post explaining why I published the paper on this blog has been viewed 11,832 times. Publishing a paper is barely worth a mention, except to the authors and a few colleagues in the field. But publishing a paper on a blog is still remarkable. In fact, more than three years on, I can’t think of (m)any other examples where people have published entire original papers on their blogs.
Instead, biology is coming around to the concept of pre-prints. I think many people think of a pre-print server as a strange sort of journal: both serve to bundle traditional research articles in a single one-stop location. Plus, pre-print servers have been long running enough in areas like physics that depositing a paper on a pre-print server is a conservative move. Blogging a paper is still a radical act.
I am very happy that my publishing experiment has been cited by others. It’s a win for the discussion of alternate ways of publishing.
But I still crave complete victory: to see the paper cited by others because of the science, not just because it’s a paper on a blog.
Faulkes Z. 2012. The distal leg motor neurons of slipper lobsters, Ibacus spp. (Decapoda, Scyllaridae). NeuroDojo (blog): http://neurodojo.blogspot.com/2012/09/Ibacus.html [PDF version for printing]
Kooy BK. Building virtually free subject area expertise through social media: an exploratory study. College & Research Libraries: in press. http://crl.acrl.org/content/early/2015/08/11/crl15-759.abstract
Why I published a paper on my blog instead of a journal
Why can’t I cite Mythbusters?