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Linux is amusing, but this is why I teach with Excel

The above blog post is an excellent example of one of the uses of blogging. The blogger posts a problem and the comments lead to many different possible solutions. Collaboration among scientists is important to advancement in teaching, research, and applied science.

If you read the entire post you will see that she refers to a specific comment in another of her blog posts. That commenter posted some information that will potentially change what software she uses in the future.

Have you used Office 2008 on OS X? They’ve removed the ability to add custom error bars on graphs – something that most, if not all, scientific data requires. I’ve got no choice but to move away from Office (Mac, but why not all, now that I have to re-train myself?). OpenOffice doesn’t have this feature either, so I’ve decided to learn R.

I’ve heard that other people are in the same position, but I guess it’s not a mass exodus yet. I feel a little bullied into learning a more complex software package, but it’ll be much more flexible in the long run. Add that to Endnote not working in Word 2008, and Office 2008 is not an attractive option.

Posted by: Andy | March 12, 2008 9:46 AM

Can you find other examples of useful collaboration on SciencesBlog?

The Scientist, mentioned in a previous post, is a good example of a journal that has both a printed and online version. Some journals give you free complete online access with the subscription to the journal. Some charge an additional fee for supplemental material that isn’t found in the printed journal. The Scientist falls in the latter category.

Emerging Infectious Disease Journal (EID) is an example of a journal that has complete availability online. You can download the entire journal as a pdf file. In contrast to The Scientist, EID is directed at a subgroup of scientist interested in the epidemiology of infectious diseases.

In addition to individual journal sites, there are sites that provide access to multiple journals. Highwire Press is one such site. It provides links to journals that are completely free, some that allow free access to articles that are 12 months old, and some that are pay by article.BioMed Central is an open access online publisher. The Free Medical Journals site maintains a list of free online medical journals. The Howard Hughes Medical Institute has many resources available including some free online publications. PLoS ONE is an open-access, online publication site support by Plos Org.

One of the issues with open access publications is copyright. The answer to that problem currently seems to be Creative Commons. This site provides several levels of copyrighting that allow information to be shared without giving up ownership of the creative product.

Online communication is increasing at a phenomenal rate. What was once limited to emails, listservs and userlists, has expanded to online Journals, Blogs, RSS feeds, and podcasts.

The internet is being used as a repository of information, a place for social activism, and a source of education.

This blog is an example of the diverse methods of communication available. I have chosen to use a blog for this course to supplement the WebCT components for several reasons. First of all, I can post things in the blog easily that I can’t post at WebCT. Second of all, the blog will be available to use when the course is finished. And third, I wanted to introduce blogging to those of you unfamiliar with it. (Wikipedia info on blogging)

Blogs can vary from unmoderated personal blogs, such as this one that I’m using for this course, to moderated organized specialty blogs such as ScienceBlogs.

The Scientist had an article in 2007 entitled “Scooped by a Blog.” I will provide you with the article in class later, for now here is a link to the scientists blog: De Rerum Natura. This is an example of the impact a blog post can have.

Out of the blue, Cartwright had blogged himself into a scientific publication. “I was completely surprised,” says Cartwright. “It was a different medium, but I guess I sort of scooped him.” The situation still amuses Comai. “We came up with virtually the same hypothesis,” he says, “and in discussion with the editors at Plant Cell it seemed most appropriate to coauthor the paper” – a decision Comai made partly because blogs are not commonly referenced in scientific papers (L. Comai, R. Cartwright, Plant Cell, 17: 2856-8 2005.). (excerpted from The Scientist, Issue 21, Volume 4: Page 21. Scooped by a Blog by David Secko)

Cartwright is a proponent of open-source publishing. I will discuss open source publishing in more detail in a future blog post, but for now want to use blogs as an example of one type of open source publishing. Check out this blog: Useful Chemistry. At the top of the blog is some information on open source publishing.