10 Mar 2007

Tags track growth in open access (and a dig at Philica)

An interesting observation: Tags Indicate That Open Access Is Flourishing. Comparing the growth in Connotea tags for "Internet" to the growth in tags for "Open access", the growth in tags for "Open access" is significantly higher.

On the topic of tags, Matt Cockerill on the BMC Blog discusses the tags used to tag BioMed Central articles on CiteULike. BioMed Central is working with CiteULike and is keen to capture the power of "Web 2.0".

So, Philica. The above observation by James Till on Philica seems much more suitable for a blog than an academic journal. Philica has yet to prove itself to be a serious academic journal -
much of the content seems to be trivial or pseudoscience, e.g. this, or this, or this.

Philica brings the much touted idea of community peer review to fruition, leaving peer review entirely to the readers. It has what I believe to be two fatal flaws. Firstly, it has absolutely no editorial selectivity and the requirement that authors be based at an academic institution has proven to be no barrier to junk being submitted. Not many researchers have the time to spend critiquing palpable nonsense. Secondly, it has no mechanism to solicit reviews from experts - only those who stumble across Philica will read the articles, and they probably won't feel at all obliged or inclined to review. Peer review survives because editors deliberately select those they believe are best placed to comment, and sometimes hound them for a review - remove a selection process, and it would collapse.

I'm not the only one to be skeptical about Philica. It's a great idea (I sketched out a similar idea last year and bored my colleagues with it at the pub), but it's not working.


Jim Till said...

Matt Hodgkinson has suggested that the "Observation" I submitted to Philica "seems much more suitable for a blog than an academic journal." This comment raises a question: What criteria should be used to make such a choice? For Philica's guidelines about suitable "Observations", see: What's the difference between an Article and an Observation?. So, what's the difference between an "Observation" in Philica and a blog entry? Perhaps not much more than the difference in venue, plus some differences in style?

In fact, the "Observation" that I submitted to Philica had its origins in an item posted to my blog. See: Tags as indicators of growing awareness about OA?, posted December 31, 2006. I've subsequently added some further comments to this blog entry, and may add more in the future. I regard it as a small experiment on the role of blogging in the open access movement.

Mrinmoy said...

i support the idea of Phillica.i personally don't like the concept of 'peer review'.if a scientific work has been done it has been done due to some reasons.why reject it for spelling mistakes and grammatical errors ? let the reader decides which one to read which one to not.also the assigned reviewers are not always related to the category of the article.so the reviews are often unjustified and irrelevant.partialism also comes into picture.i hav seen a lot of good articles to be rejected awhereas lot of bad ones get published.in this context,philica is a nice idea and it will be successful once people understand its advantage.