Infographic: How Science Is Reaching Out

Infographic - sciencepod

SciencePOD infographic created for Elsevier Chemistry. Credit Elsevier at https://www.elsevier.com/physical-sciences-and-engineering/chemistry/journals/new-chemistry-research

Quality infographics make an impact with wider audiences

Alice Rolandini Jensen, SciencePOD writer

Science that makes an impact reaches many people – in the scientific community and beyond. Getting complex concepts and results out there in a way that captivates and inspires is challenging. And with competing discoveries just a click or a swipe away, what can scientists (and science publishers) do to increase the reach of their work?

One effective way is with infographics. Infographics can do something text alone cannot – quickly catch the attention of thousands of eyes! With images and just a few words, infographics can show the overall results or key message of a scientific paper. But they need to be eye-catching and intriguing, to entice people on Twitter, LinkedIn or Instagram, for example, to click and find out more.

As a science writer and creator of infographics, my task is to condense a scientific paper –  that may have taken years of work by many people – into a picture. Having a background in science (in this case, chemistry) not only helps me understand scientific research papers, but it also helps me ask the right questions of researchers and scientists. When researchers confirm the most important aspects of their work, this helps me decide on an image, or series of images, to best convey their findings. I take a minimalist approach to text and rely as much as possible on an image to catch the eye and guide the onlooker.

Take, for example, the infographic on an environmental odour control map that I worked on for SciencePOD. The main point to get across was the idea that an ‘electronic nose’, works much like our own. This is something people can relate to and understand. Therefore, I chose to include a human head but with circuitry in its nose. This leads the ‘brain’ to create a map of odours in different geographic areas. The text in the infographic is then used to add further detail and basic explanation of the core image.

Moving from concept to actual design can be challenging. To get my ideas across to the designer, I often draw a quick sketch and include sample images. What follows is a productive iterative process through which the SciencePOD designer brings my infographic concept to life! We are a team of experts working towards the same goal. It is also important to ensure that the scientists behind the research are happy with the results. A researcher will often make very useful suggestions on the wording of the text for an infographic, for example.

Throughout the process, I always keep the target audience in mind. Often this means making sure that the image and text work well together and do not become overly technical so as to attract a wider audience and maximise the impact of the infographic. Creating infographics like this one, allows researchers and publishers to reach more people and to do so through more media channels. It’s an important way to get work noticed and understood in this fast-paced technological era.

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Andrew Burgess speaks about the use of AI in the content creation sector at ConTech

“The conversation is the relationship”, according to Management Consultant Andrew Burgess, who provides strategic insight around AI. In an interview recorded at ConTech 2018, held at the end of November in London, UK, Burgess talks with SciencePOD about the potential of AI in the content creation sector.

Should professionals in science publishing involved in creating content be concerned about their jobs as AI solutions become more prevalent?

“It will impact jobs but,[…] it’s going to be slower than people think. The things AI can do today is exciting and valuable, but there are limitations.” These limitations prevent AI from replacing people, entirely.

Rather they could augment people’s capabilities. Burgess continues: “AI’s very good at providing additional information to people, extracting value from data that humans wouldn’t necessarily be able to do, to help them make better decisions around their business… These are giving people additional capabilities that they wouldn’t have had before.”

What type of applications could help professionals involved in creating content augment their capabilities?

For instance, “in translation services, we’ve gone from a very structured approach to AI within the natural language to actually use machine learning, whereas the name suggests, it’s the machines that are learning how to do the translation based on the data that you’re giving them, ” Burgess notes. “And that gives you so much wider capabilities than you’ve ever had before… That’s where the real acceleration will be with the development of AI over the next 5-10 years.”

There are still concerns that AI may become harmful to humans? Where is the threat?

“I think the biggest risk is the people that are building and using the AI itself, all of this is just a tool that we use. As long as we plan right and don’t have a bias in the data, we don’t have opacity in the decisions the AI is making… (these) are really important things. That’s really up to humans to control.”

Enjoy the podcast and thanks for listening!

Podcast, Ivan Oransky, RetractionWatch: Retractions are like red flags highlighting infractions in science

Photo credit: SciencePOD.

 

Keeping a record of the retraction of research publications made it easier for journalistic coverage dissecting the infractions occurring within science publishing. “What I see that’s important, is not just coverage of individual cases, people are actually trying to put this all together. They’re filing public record requests because that’s something we’re not thinking of.” That’s according to RetractionWatch, co-founder, Ivan Oransky,  who started this initiative as a blog in 2010 with a single purpose in mind: making the peer-review process more transparent.

Listen to the edited version of the recording by SciencePOD.org of a recent presentation Oransky made at Trinity College Dublin, Ireland. This event, held on 20th June 2018, was co-organised by the Irish Science & Technology Journalists’ Association and the Science Gallery Dublin.

Oransky recalls the motivation that originally animated him and co-founder Adam Marcus in highlighting the mishaps of the peer-review process within academic communities. “Those of you who may be familiar with PubMed, Medline or Web of Science, you go to any of those you’ll find under 6,000 (retractions)… we [at Retraction Watch] have 3 times as many,” notes Oransky. Today, the RetractionDataBase.org site holds 17,500 retractions –and it is still growing. While retractions are rare, Oransky believes there is a screening effect attached to them.

For a sense of scale, the two countries in the world with the most retractions are China and the US. To provide an in-depth look at this, Oransky and his team compiled a leaderboard. Each of these instances are linked with a comprehensive story following the original publication.

Many varieties of malpractice

Oranksy highlights a few of the problems surrounding retractions found in the peer-review community. At the time of this recording, RetractionWatch had cataloged, 630 retractions specifically due to e-mail fraud by submitting a fake peer-reviewer’s e-mail. How does this work? An academic submits a paper to a journal for submission. When the journal comes back to ask for an e-mail to reference for peer-review, rather than submitting a genuine e-mail, the academic offers a fake e-mail, which then closes the loop between him or herself and the journal. Thus, eliminating the need for a peer-review. Back in 2000, only about 5% of papers were retracted, due to e-mail fraud.

Another area of malpractice occurs through duplication of results in different journals, not to be confused with plagiarism. Duplication is giving undue weight to a scientific conversation within the literature. This means when you try to conduct a scientific analysis on a topic, you’re looking at publications publishing the same thing multiple times without adding value to the topic.

All knowledge is provisional

To assume a paper should be retracted because the results aren’t reproducible is odd; but, it does occur. This shows that there is no perfect system for scholarly publishing. And that keeping a tap on retractions can help to uncover unsavoury behaviour among scientists.

Ultimately, this red flag activity leads to stronger science, as researchers are aware of the potential downsides of naming and shaming authors of retracted papers.

Enjoy the podcast!

 

Photo credit: SciencePOD.org

Offering a hacking solution for scholarly publishing

Changing incentives to researchers and scientific-centric technology solutions could be the new normal.

Hacking solutions to science problems are springing up everywhere. They attempt to remove bureaucracy and streamline research. But how many of these initiatives are coming from the science publishing industry? There is currently no TripAdvisor to the best journal for submission, no Deliveroo for laboratory reagent delivery. How about a decentralised peer-review based on the blockchain certification principle? Today, the social media networks for scientists—the likes of ResearchGate, Academia.edu and Mendeley—have only started a timid foray into what the future of scholarly publishing could look like.

This topic was debated in front of a room packed with science publishing executives at the STM conference, on 18th October 2016, on the eve of the Frankfurt Book Fair. Earlier that day, Brian Nosek, executive director at the Centre for Open Science, Charlottesville, Virginia, USA, gave a caveat about any future changes. He primarily saw the need to change the way incentives for scientist work so that, ultimately, research itself changes rather than technology platforms imposing change.

Yet, the key to adapting is “down to the pace of experiment,” said Phill Jones, head of publisher outreach, at Digital Science, London, UK, which provides technology solutions to the industry. Jones advocates doing lots and lots of experiments to find solutions to better serve the scientific community.

Indeed, “rapid evolution based on observed improvement is better than disruption for the sake of disruption,” agreed John Connolly, chief product officer at Springer Nature, London, UK.

Adopting an attitude that embrace these experiments, “is the biggest change that we [the scholarly publishing industry] need to embrace,” Jones concluded.

To do so, “we need publishers to be a lot less cautious,” noted Richard Padley, Chairman Semantico, London, UK, providing technology solutions to science publishers. “It is a cultural thing, publishers need to empower their organisation to use technology from the top down.”

So are the lives of scientists about to be changed? Arguably, yes. Resistance from proponents of the status quo may still arise. It may depend on the pace at which science publisher turn into technology service industry. The truth is “users want to see tools that are much more user-centred and less centred around publishers,” argued Connolly. However, “if you ask a scientists what they wanted [in the past], they would have said high impact factors articles,” said Phil Jones. “They thought this is what they wanted because there was no alternative,” Jones added, whereas: “they wanted to have higher impact of their research and have greater reach.”

Clearly, “if you are optimistic about publishers, there is a job for publishers, to synthesise knowledge, to see the relevant content,” said Connolly.

This means taking quite a lot of adjustment to those who pay for content. A download is not a marker of whether you have passed on that synthesised knowledge!

Original article published on EuroScientist.com.