(Full disclosure: I was one of the authors who beta tested The Winnower. Work I published there lead to me getting a conference talk at the April APS conference this year.)
Here is what The Winnower says quote:
Today we are excited to announce that The Winnower will be publishing, archiving, and issuing DOIs to all past, present, and future AMAs in r/science. We think this will have at least three positive outcomes:
- reddit AMAs will become increasingly recognized academically as a source of valuable outreach for the participants.
- More scientists will be willing to participate in asking and answering questions (students and professors).
- 3) Valuable content being created on reddit will be afforded the same scholarly tools as original research in the largest scholarly journal, including long-term archival.
Because we will be cross-posting the content of the AMAs to the Winnower this also presents us the opportunity of cleaning up the presentation of AMAs. We are still working on the formatting, but hope you already find the AMAs more pleasing to look at. We hope this is “up voteable” to you!
Here is the first reddit r/science AMA with DOI:
Here is the DOIdisplayed on reddit:
I am a big fan of what The Winnower is trying to do. I believe in it. Through trying to promote my work published there in mainstream venues and publications (knock on wood about an upcoming paper "Gravity Mediated Interaction Cross Sections Without Ultraviolet Divergence").
Oligarchy, the government of science.
That said, I think that they are unaware of just how stodgy many in the science community are.
What is scientifically correct is determined by the method of hypothesis -> experimentation -> better hypothesis or theory ->experimentation and so on.
How science is funded, how career paths are determined, who gets funding, which publications are "real" is largely determined by the oligarchy.
Oligarch's like things that are familiar to them. Oligarch's will reason to themselves that the sources that they are comfortable with are necessarily more rigorous. Those sources are printed journals with pre publication peer review, and subscription fees ran as if we lived in the era where a fax was the only way to send a paper electronically. The oligarchs of the scientific community will be "right" because they have the power and hard earned privilege of say who, but now what, is right. That power is only preempted by experimentation or better theories preempt their authority.
The things The Winnower said will come to pass. It will take years, at least as many years as it has taken for Science 2.0 to gain the level of respect it has now. The hypothesis of open communication in science still has much more testing to do before it will be fully accepted over the objections of the oligarchs.
These will be generational changes:
This very website, Science 2.0 was and is all about the fact that science in the internet age will be communicated differently than it was in the pre internet age. This change has been long in coming. Not that long ago it was frowned upon for a scientist to blog about science. In the 00's one would likely hear that time spent blogging would be better spent writing up journal papers. The idea that a scientist would want to write up research ideas and discuss them openly was thought absurd. It was said that anonymity made people more frank. Those people never discussed things online with Peter Woit or Lubos Motl or me for that matter. Real names haven't stopped frank comment on Youtube or other places.
People will have to get used to the idea that their reviews will be valued, but not controlling as to what gets published and listened to. For example, my papers on The Winnower got hostile reviews, then my talk at the APS conference got great comments.
Even if the changes The Winnower envisions come to pass there are limits to what the citation of a Reddit thread can do:
- A Reddit could be cited if there is a discussion between two verifiable authoritative researchers on a subject. One might use such a reference in the introduction to or the discussion portion of a publication.
- A Reddit could be cited if one's publication is being written, in some part, in response to a large amount of discussion on the internet, as one example of such a discussion.
- A Reddit should not be cited if there exist a more authoritative published source such as in a journal, or media report.
The Winnower may be at the forefront of a movement finally away from the print journal paradigm. Journals, even online journals tend to mimic the forms of print journals. That is really an absurd thing to do when one thinks about it. For example why should the online version of a journal have a page length limit? It will take a new generation of scientist who are more comfortable with internet communication 2.0, open comments on websites, blogs, and places like Reddit, for those results to be realized.