Research has always been and will continue to be *social*

Thank you for participating in our Social Media Week event held at Google New York yesterday. Our panel session addressed scholarly communications and we are thrilled to have hosted it. SMW organizing committee and Google team – you are awesome!

The crowd at the event included students, professors, librarians, and technologists in publishing as well as others involved with social media. Chris Wiggins kicked off the session by discussing how research has always been social. According to Chris, social media is just another communication channel through which some academics are communicating. In that sense, it’s more evolutionary than revolutionary. Key tips from Chris include finding the right people to follow on via social bookmarking services and shared Google Reader feeds, disseminating your own content (i.e., being one of the right people to follow) by sharing your results and code via blogging, github, Google Code, etc. He stressed how this sort of sharing of data is critical for the scientific process, as it’s necessary in order for research to be repeated and independently verified.

Gabriel Willow from The Wildlab talked about empowering folks to engage in citizen science. He told a great story about citizen science, the story of the Christmas Bird Count. This is an annual count of birds done by volunteers organized by the Audubon Society. The amazing thing about this project is that it’s been running for over a hundred years and has yielded insights on changes in habitats, climate change, and the impact of civilization on bird populations. It’s also perhaps the only 100 year long dataset that contains over 60 million datapoints. Gabriel’s project, The Wildlab, takes this to a new level. Using an innovative mobile application that allows users to submit information on bird sightings and other observations of the natural world, he’s turning high school kids into naturalists.

Margaret Smith shared a science librarian’s insight on challenges and opportunities presented by professional use of social media. As a self-proclaimed “social media fiend”, she told us how we need to learn to make signal from what may initially appear to be noise. One excellent point she brought out is how social sharing of research objects online is dependent on open access to these objects.

Our co-founder, Jan Reichelt, also shared his perspective on how Mendeley is enabling social sharing of research on a scale previously unattainable. If you’d like to know more about this, tune in to the webcast on Feb. 15 catch one of our upcoming events here or read some reviews from around the web. Jeffrey Lancaster moderated the panel discussion, drawing on his research experience as a doctoral student studying surface chemistry and photolithography to ask questions relevant to students today.

The video is below. Discussion starts at 01:14:50

It was pleasure to have met you all both on and offline. We look forward to organizing more events and would love to hear your feedback.