Monday, May 26, 2008

Soft Peer Review: Social Software and Distributed Scientific Evaluation

Soft Peer Review: Social Software and Distributed Scientific Evaluation

Dario TARABORELLI / Department of Psychology / University College London / Gower Street / London / WC1 6BT / United Kingdom / d.taraborelli@ucl.ac.uk

Abstract

The debate on the prospects of peer-review in the Internet age and the increasing criticism leveled against the dominant role of impact factor indicators are calling for new measurable criteria to assess scientific quality. Usage-based metrics offer a new avenue to scientific quality assessment but face the same risks as first generation search engines that used unreliable metrics (such as raw traffic data) to estimate content quality. In this article I analyze the contribution that social bookmarking systems can provide to the problem of usage-based metrics for scientific evaluation. I suggest that collaboratively aggregated metadata may help fill the gap between traditional citation-based criteria and raw usage factors. I submit that bottom-up, distributed evaluation models such as those afforded by social bookmarking will challenge more traditional quality assessment models in terms of coverage, efficiency and scalability. Services aggregating user-related quality indicators for online scientific content will come to occupy a key function in the scholarly communication system.

D. Taraborelli (2008), Soft peer review. Social software and distributed scientific evaluation, Proceedings of the 8th International Conference on the Design of Cooperative Systems (COOP 08), Carry-Le-Rouet, France, May 20-23, 2008

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Keywords

peer review; rating; impact factor; citation analysis; usage factors; scholarly publishing; social bookmarking; collaborative annotation; online reference managers; social software; web 2.0; tagging; folksonomy

* This paper is based on ideas previously published on a post on the Academic Productivity blog.

[http://www.academicproductivity.com/blog/2007/soft-peer-review-social-software-and-distributed-scientific-evaluation/]

PDF of Presentation Slides Available

[http://nitens.org/docs/coop08-slides.pdf]

1 comment:

Rich Apodaca said...

Gerry, very interesting idea and prediction.

How might blogs figure into this?

Blogging software combined with Google give unprecedented power to anybody with something interesting to say. Science is not immune to this trend.

We're rapidly approaching a point at which the scientific publisher, in the traditional sense, becomes irrelevant.

At that point Google Page Rank will matter a whole lot more than Impact Factor. And open scientific information aggregators, possibly relying on social networking phenomena such as tagging, would play a very important role in that.