We have been thinking about the way that scientists discuss research work to see how these discussions can be captured and so be useful to a wider audience. There are plenty of ways but one thing that kept coming up were journal clubs. Most labs, and many other groupings of scientists, run journal clubs, taking a different published paper every week and dissecting it. Could the discussions that ensue be integrated into PLoS ONE somehow?
If a journal club is run on a paper it would be great for the points and questions from the meeting to be available to others reading the paper. With PLoS ONE someone could post these as comments or annotations on the papers. But that wouldn’t really give the comments the weight which they might deserve. If they are the results of a journal club then they have already been honed by the discussions that have gone on there. They will be the product of more than one person. They are the collective result of a number of people.
So why not let the journal club have its own, ‘collective’ identity?
This is what some of the members of the PLoS ONE editorial board have started to experiment with in a tentative sort of way. Of course the posting of comments anonymously is not something that we allow on PLoS ONE so all members of a journal club must be listed in its profile. All the same we hope that these ‘journal club’ identities will help nervous readers to engage in discussions of papers. It will also help journal clubs to engage with authors of papers and help in them receive answers to questions that can’t be answered even by the closest reading of the paper itself.
As I say this is something with which we are beginning to experiment. The first papers to receive journal club attention are “Perceptual Learning of Motion Leads to Faster Flicker Perception” by Aaron Seitz et al. which has been looked at by the University of Sidney Perception Group; “The Waiting Time for Inter-Country Spread of Pandemic Influenza” by Peter Caley, Niels Becker and David Philp, which has been looked at by a group of Italian complexity researchers; and “On the Origin of the Functional Architecture of the Cortex” by Dario Ringach critiques by Neuroscientists from Universite de Montreal and New York University. Take a look and see what the groups, and the authors, have had to say.
Also if you run a journal club which might be interested in discussing some PLoS ONE papers please get in touch. We might even be able to give you an early preview of papers so you can be ready to add your thoughts as they are published.