The transformation is already here – it’s just unevenly distributed

Cameron Neylon
Science in the Open

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The technical capacity of the web is growing at a huge rate. New tools, and more refined versions of recent tools, are appearing at what feels like an ever increasing rate. In the world of scholarly communications the pace of change is also rapid with new systems for data management, journal publication, peer review, and search and filtering being announced on a daily basis. Nonetheless the overall change in the framework of scholarly communications seems to be rather slight. How can we reconcile these two? I will argue that the current state is exactly what is to be expected in a large interconnected system on the verge of large-scale systemic change. The technology is just now reaching a level of maturity where it can be placed into high level production, the diffusion of adoption has been slow but steady across a range of new technologies, but we have not, until now, reached a critical mass. This has been due to two factors – a lack of connectivity between communities of use, and a lack of overall awareness of the potential for change. Both of these factors have been substantially weakened by the events of the past few months.

CAMERON NEYLON is a biophysicist who has always worked in interdisciplinary areas and is an advocate of open research practice and improved data management. He currently works as Senior Scientist in Biomolecular Sciences at the ISIS Neutron Scattering facility at the Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC). Along with his work in structural biology and biophysics, his research and writing focuses on the interface of web technology with science and the successful (and unsuccessful) application of generic and specially designed tools in the academic research environment. He is a co-author of the Panton Principles for Open Data in Science, founding Editor in Chief of Open Research Computation, and writes regularly on the social, technical, and policy issues of open research at his blog, Science in the Open.