The new alchemy: Online networking, data sharing and research activity distribution tools for scientists

  • Antony J. Williams, Lou Peck, Sean Ekins
  • F1000Research, August 2017, Faculty of 1000, Ltd.
  • DOI: 10.12688/f1000research.12185.1

Online networking, data sharing and research activity distribution tools for scientists

What is it about?

We share our opinions and experiences of using various software that can help scientists to expose their work and also track its impact. This has probably far greater ramifications as it says we have the tools to share our work but only a fraction of scientists are using whats available. Science publishing has dramatically changed and how we leverage the online world can have a dramatic impact on the reach and longevity of our work / publications.

Why is it important?

It is important because most scientists probably do not think how the tools that are freely available could be used to make people aware of their work, find collaborators, lead to funding etc. Like anything else there is a bit of experimentation involved and one has to be picky otherwise you could be quickly buried and spend all your time exploring the many tools available. We point the reader to what we think are the important ones to try today. Sure, in future this will change, but the reader needs a starting point and this is it.


Dr Sean Ekins
Collaborations in Chemistry

Disclaimer - this is my personal opinion and nobody else prompted this. The article was basically driven hard by Tony. We have been talking about writing an article like this for many years and we have both blogged about what tools could be used by scientists to help promote their work and themselves.. For example last year I wrote a short blog called "Five Things Scientists could be doing on Social Media while they have a coffee"..and that lead to a talk at the AAPS. Tony has given tens of talks on this topic and is an expert in the space. It took the best part of a year to get to this point..and lots of internal review at the EPA (which required us to add all the negative aspects of social media) which certainly made it more balanced but I hope this does not detract from our message - basically scientists need to be using the free tools that are out there to reap the benefits. Like anything the time thats put in will lead to bigger rewards. Now of course measuring the impact is key and the tools for doing just that are there as well. If these utilities were around when I was starting out I can only imagine how useful they would have been. The currency of today are rightly or wrongly papers, and unfortunately older scientists are penalized if they have more papers because of the incredible amount of time required to pull these into tools like this and enrich them. It is a monumental task if you have hundreds of papers to even consider spending 30 min on each one to enrich it. I equate it to painting a big bridge, a never ending job. Until of course you retire and stop publishing. For some of the tools we describe it is really unclear what benefits they offer in the short or even long term other than building networks. Some are no utilitarian, Linkedin, Twitter etc.. are just low hanging fruit which every scientist should tap into. Likely I will add more to this as time goes on.

Lou Peck
The International Bunch

This article has come from a really interesting collaboration with Tony Williams who I worked with at the Royal Society of Chemistry many years ago, and an introduction through Tony to Sean. We wanted to help scientists get a better understanding of the free tools that are currently available to them to increase the reach and impact of their own work. We hope this will prove insightful.

Dr Antony John Williams
United States Environmental Protection Agency

For well over five years I have been trying to help early career scientists to understand the advantages they have nowadays in terms of free and open platforms that they can use to share their science. They can be their own self-marketers, build collaborations, share data, presentations and boost attention and recognition of their publications. This is very necessary, in my opinion, in a crowded space where "tooting your own horn" is very necessary to rise above the crowd. It doesn't make your science better but it certainly can make it more discoverable.

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The following have contributed to this page: Dr Antony John Williams, Dr Sean Ekins, and Lou Peck