Web 2.0 and the democratization of science

Science was supposed to be all about collaboration to achieve our main goals – try to understand the basics on how organisms and cells work and use this information to aid in the wide range of diseases that affect humankind. Unfortunately, the scientific world is not all about sharing information. In fact, it was always the opposite; a big competition in which the ones with more resources get to the discoveries first and prevail. To be able to do a nice discovery in science and make it available to the whole scientific community is more difficult than anyone would imagine. Scientific journal article evaluation and peer-revision, as I already pointed in my previous blog posts, is an unfair and frustrating process that can take months and even years. There is a lot of competition and the journals are not accessible to all scientists in the world since they charge for article download. This is somehow changing with the revolution of the Web 2.0 in which there is more interaction of the individuals with the information available online. Free social media networks such as Podcasts, YouTube, innumerous blogs, Twitter, Facebook, and others have been facilitating the “spread” of the scientific discoveries faster than it was imagined let’s say 10 years ago. The current “migration” of the printed media to the virtual world is indeed facilitating the democratization of science all over the world.  Several scientific journals  that are Open Access and free of charge have emerged, so everyone is able to download articles and commentaries about specific topics. The trend is that even the more “traditional” journals will need to find ways to get revenue and become freely available so everybody can have access to “first class” scientific discoveries. This type of democratization is not necessarily new, but now it will occur faster and will affect people all over the world in an era that information is the most valuable product. In a large enterprise like science, this can make a big difference. Web 2.0 is already changing the scientific community and I hope this will positively impact in the evolution of our field and facilitate the application of our discoveries.

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