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New frontiers opening for STM journals

Science is all about being on the cutting edge, so related publishing method should embrace progress.

Industries heavily affected by technological development will have to change in ways more significant than just implementing the new platforms, no questions asked. Adding new tech features to a field that has been around for decades can mean overall transformation - and probably should. Current movements within academic publishing provide a great example of this effect. The digital revolution has opened up new ways for content to go from paper authors to their colleagues and peers, simultaneously inviting new and helpful publishing models. The end goal of scientific publishing is the furthering of ideas, and bold new models can help scientists achieve this end.

"Innovative publishers are thinking about new ways to publish articles."

The scientific, technical and medical (STM) journal market is populated by individuals who are pushing the boundaries of research and posing exciting new theories. Therefore, it's only sensible that these researchers shouldn't limit themselves to old-fashioned publication methods. Fortunately, innovative publishers have already started thinking about new ways to publish and promote articles and breathe new life into scientific publishing.

Scientific populism
A recent LinkedIn Pulse blog post by Simon Owens delved into one particularly exciting method by which scholarly journals are building specialist interest in their papers. Owens noted that some academic authors are seeing their work promoted through interactions on sites such as Reddit. These are bringing new exposure to those scientists' work, all enabled by the online publishing model. By speaking with specialized communities within the larger Reddit user base, the academics find a willing audience for their work, and interested individuals can then immediately access the articles under discussion.

The scientific publishing world is based on peer review and having many scientists weigh in on pieces of work - this is why online conversations sessions are a true boon, PLOS Social Media and Community Manager Victoria Costello told Owens. She specified that an "ask me anything" event with a scientist on Reddit can bring in thousands of viewers, some of whom are in the field and could offer valuable opinions about the science in question.

Online connections can revolutionize peer review.
Online connections can revolutionize peer review.

The age of print journals could not have supported the kind of instant ecosystem fostered by these community interactions. E-journals published on open access models promote inspection on the spot. Costello told Owens that after a good AMA session, a scientist can receive many new visits to his or her personal website and published papers. Though not all interested parties click all the way through to the article, those with experience in the field have that option.

New type of review
The online model may not just be helping the popularity of science - it could be affecting peer review at its very core. A Wired interview with the University of Montreal's Vincent Lariviere pointed to a new strategy wherein pieces are published to the community and then reviewed. This means the information is made available in a timely fashion yet still receives the scrutiny that is so important to reputable science. Such a process is a direct result of the interactive STM journal format, and would be unthinkable with a print publication. This is proof that technology can help researchers invent new and better ways to spread their findings.

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