The platypus as inspiration

Hi all,

Our June issue just went on line. I mean, just like 2 nanoseconds ago. This is brand new information, so hurry and go check it out. Among other goodies, you’ll find a proposal for the future of antibody technology, evidence for a global biosynthetic assembly line, and a beautiful tribute to a great scientist.

This issue is not just for you to sit back and admire, though. This month, we want to get your thoughts on the ways in which we can, do, and could communicate with each other. We also want to know how you integrate the web in your life, and we don’t mean between your toes. At our journal (and many others), the Correspondence section serves as an official venue for comments (and sometimes responses) on papers that we have published, as well as providing a forum for general conversations of interest to the community. In addition, in discussing specific papers, a growing number of journals like the PLOS fold and Biology Direct offer an opportunity to comment alongside the paper to raise technical or conceptual concerns, or theoretically to talk about new ideas raised by the article (my fairly minimal search turns up mostly the former, though). Faculty of 1000 also offers a forum for professors to highlight papers that they think their peers should be aware of. In regards to more informal topics, Nature Network has seen some great online discussions and happy hours, LinkedIn offers opportunities to establish a scientific network, and Nature Publishing Group is increasingly making a place for itself on spots like Second Life and Facebook. Similarly, the number of science blogs seems to have exploded in recent years, covering both scientific topics and things more related to being a scientist than the work itself.

With these growing online options, we are curious about how you all view the future of scientific communication. Here are a few of the things on our collective minds:

1. What should our Correspondence section include? Do you see a continuing need for this formal mechanism of communication?

2. What is the future of scientific correspondence more broadly? i.e., where do you go to find science news and cool papers, or to initiate or participate in discussions, and what do you like or dislike about online discussions?

3. How many of you actually go online to try to initiate or participate in a scientific discussion vs. just downloading papers, buying chemicals, or looking at the latest lolcat?

4. On a related note, what tips the balance for you from just taking in information to contributing it (and vice versa)?

5. For those of you who self-select as chemical biologists, would a chemical biology blog offer something unique as compared to other blogs, news sites or discussion groups you know of? Would you read/participate in a chemical biology blog?

Like Neil (and the chemistry team), we’d really love a ‘deluge of posts’ about this, whether you’re out on your own limb or not (yes, another reference to the platypus…). Thanks for your help!

Catherine (and the rest of the Nature Chemical Biology team)