Saturday, March 31, 2012

PLoS Computational Biology Goes Wiki

Posted on by Daniel Mietchen
Today saw an important step forward towards a wikification of scholarly workflows: PLoS Computational Biolog published an article that did not only follow the journal’s own author guidelines but also those for writing articles on the English Wikipedia, where a copy of the journal article has been pasted into [[Circular Permutation in Proteins]], where it shall live on in the hands of the wiki community.

The article is the first in a new manuscript track – Topic pages – that adds a dynamic component to articles published in the journal, as explained in the accompanying editorial:
This month, we have published our first Topic Page on “Circular Permutations in Proteins” by Spencer Bliven and Andreas Prlić [6] as part of our Education section. Topic Pages are the version of record of a page to be posted to (the English version of) Wikipedia. In other words, PLoS Computational Biology publishes a version that is static, includes author attributions, and is indexed in PubMed. In addition, we intend to make the reviews and reviewer identities of Topic Pages available to our readership. Our hope is that the Wikipedia pages subsequently become living documents that will be updated and enhanced by the Wikipedia community, assuming they are in keeping with Wikipedia’s guidelines and policies, either by individuals, or, perhaps as is already happening in medicine and molecular and cell biology, by something more organized, or with a more formal review structure. We also hope this will lead to improved scholarship in a changing medium of learning, in this case made possible by the Creative Commons Attribution License that we use.

Source and Access to the Fulltext and Associated Links Are Available Via


BTW: In 2005, I gave an invited presentation at the TICER intenational conference at Tilburg University, The Netherlands, titled

"Wikis: Disruptive Technologies for Dynamic Possibilities”

The presentation reviews the general nature and structure of select wikis, the features and functions of popular wiki software engines, and describes the content and use of wikis by select businesses, colleges and universities, and libraries.The presentation also speculated about the wiki as an environment, framework, and venue for Disruptive Scholarship, my proposed model for alternative scholarly authorship, review, and publishing.

A Link to the PPT is Available at


More recently, I gave a presentation at the _Science in the 21st Century_ conference in Waterloo, Canada, titled

"The Wiki: An Environment For Scholarly Conversation and Publishing"

 A "wiki is a ... collaborative space ... because of its total freedom, ease of access, and use, [and] simple and uniform navigational conventions ... ." "[It] ... is also a way to organize and cross-link knowledge ..." Ward Cunningham, Father of The Wiki (Leuf and Cunningham, 2001, 16). Most wikis provide the user with a set of navigation or utility tools such as the ability to create and edit a page, view recently changed pages, and rollback to previous page versions. In addition, many wikis include a discussion forum for proposed page changes.

Among its many perceived benefits are its potential for facilitating a more creative environment and expanding knowledgebase, and a significant ability to harness the power of diverse point-of-views in creating collaborative works.

In this presentation, we will speculate on the Wiki as a digital environment that not only supports current scholarly practices, but more importantly, offers a framework for their enhancement and transformation.

Access to the PPT as well as associated A/V is available via


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