Connecting with Science (my take on topic 1)

“A dream you dream alone is only a dream. A dream you dream together is reality.”

John Lennon

During this first topic, I have reflected on the importance of connectivity for science  and on my own responsibilities in the new digital world.

The web of science

The scientific progress is fuelled by a constant exchange of ideas, technical expertise and knowledge. The  web has revolutionised the way we connect to each other, facilitated this exchange and thereby accelerated rate of scientific discoveries.

Even more interesting, the web has changed the way we perform science. The number of international collaborations has increased dramatically during the last decades. Many scientists are moving towards open data and open resources, which opens up new opportunities for interoperability and collaboration. We can follow and participate in scientific blogs and online forums, where the latest research findings are presented and debated. There are a number of new platforms that support collaborative research among diverse disciplines…

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Connecting right for the advance of science

On the other hand, these advances also bring a number of burdens. Most notably are the increase in plagiarism and the difficulties of curating and maintaining open data. I will discuss these problems (and some ‘antidotes’) in future blogs.

Digital literacies

To benefit from the digital world, we need to foster the learning of digital literacies in the classroom and in the lab. In the first topic of the ONL, we have discussed the different aspects contained under this ‘umbrella’-term. My favourites are:

  • Being able of reading and understanding digital information and-importantly-approaching it with a critical mind
  • Being able of exploiting new avenues for creativity and effective communication 
  • Being committed to follow new codes of conduct that ensure that these powerful resources are used  ethically

In a broader sense, all of these (critical thinking, creativity, effective communication and ethics) are essential skills for any academic.

If you are looking for some practical information, I recently found an interesting link with an exhaustive list of  online tools for researchers.

Engaging with the digital world

Another interesting concept that I learned in this topic is that we have different ways of engaging with the web (visitor and resident modes). Reflecting on this, I have realised that my professional interactions with the web are mostly as a visitor. These are some examples:

  • I use feedly as a RSS aggregator and search for news, articles and blogs.
  • I work with open software (e.g. ImageJ or Cellprofiler) and open source data (e.g. yeastgenome(SGD).
  • I use google based-platforms to communicate with my students and collaborate overseas.
  • I have started to explore some twitters from other labs and scientists and I found this is a fresh source of information and inspiration.

I would like to engage more with the web and move towards a resident mode.  I think Science works best when is open and being in a resident mode means keeping research accessible and relevant to peers and society. I hope this idea will develop further in the coming blogs. For now, participating in the ONL course and this blog are my first steps towards this openness.

See you in topic 2!

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