My attention span is shot. I mean, it was never great to begin with, but now between the mixed-up schedules, working from home with young kids, the barrage of constant mostly bad news, and a general, free-floating anxiety and uncertainty it’s particularly hard to… [long pause while staring into the middle distance] …focus.
That’s one of the many reasons I was looking forward to the virtual CSE Annual Meeting earlier this month. Program co-chairs Emilie Gunn & Peter Olson managed to transform the standard full meeting program into a lean virtual meeting, covering such increasingly important topics as registered reports, publishing Chinese research, open access, improving peer review, and more. It was a taut, informative, and engaging meeting that easily kept my attention, and if you missed it, we’ll be publishing Annual Meeting Reports for each session in Science Editor in the coming weeks. Unfortunately, we can’t capture in a report the virtual happy hours that capped off each day and came ever so close to approximating the enjoyment and comradery of the real thing.
The Keynote and Plenary presentations were also excellent and took on new resonance in these pandemic times. In lieu of the usual Resource of the Month section, I want to feature two resources highlighted in those talks. First, Brian Nosek’s Keynote on “Improving Openness and Reproducibility in Scholarly Communication” came at a time when open science practices and the reliability and transparency of scientific research are being debated and discussed in the news and by the public daily. In his presentation, he described the new TOP Factor (https://topfactor.org) from the Center for Open Science. On one level, the TOP Factor is another metric, evaluating and ranking journals based on their level adoption of the Transparency and Openness Promotion (TOP) Guidelines. But by providing links to each listed journal’s Author Instructions, they have also created an incredibly helpful resource for any journal looking to modify their Instructions to increase their TOP Guidelines participation and improve transparency. For example, if you’re a biomedical journal that wants to strengthen your Design and Analysis Guidelines to TOP Level 2, now you have more than 20 examples easily accessible and ready to absorb.
(As an aside, I learned via the TOP Factor that there is a journal called Exceptional Children, which as best as I can tell, does not feature my kids at all: this is an unfortunate lapse in the scholarly literature. On a less facetious note, I have an affection for bluntly named journals that likely lead to curious correspondence and interesting party conversations. If you happen to work at a similarly named journal and would like to share some anecdotes, possibly for publication, please do.)
Next, Maryam Zaringhalam’s Plenary on “Storytelling for a More Equitable Open Science Enterprise” spoke to the importance of connecting with of the general public by emphasizing the human side of science. Maryam is a Senior Producer for The Story Collider, an organization that works to share “true, personal stories about science” through a podcast and regular (now online) shows and workshops. By archiving hundreds of podcast episodes, the site serves as a resource for anyone wanting to the hear human struggles and joys of science, from balancing parenthood and careers, overcoming devasting challenges, finding your unique way, and more. Maybe it’s seeing glimpses of people’s homes during online meetings or the candor being exhibited on social media during these rough times, but I feel like there is a growing appreciation that the people conducting, editing, publishing, and communicating science are, well, people, with lives and families and kids and pets and finances and worries and everything else that makes us human.
Editor-in-Chief, Science Editor
REMINDER: Science Editor Pandemic Dispatches
Science Editor Pandemic Dispatches is your opportunity to share your experiences and thoughts as you and your organizations adapt to this ever-changing landscape. We’re interested in collecting everything and anything you may want to share: tips and tricks, interesting anecdotes, light-hearted stories, new insights, thoughts on the future and where we’ll be in a year, and more. The link to the form, which you are welcome to share with colleagues, is as follows: https://forms.gle/TsQNCuNk3N64gq7j7
The Spring 2020 issue of Science Editor posted recently, and for many of you, the print version is in the mail on its way to your office where it will sit until you’re allowed to return. The cover is a magician’s poster from early in the last century; that may not seem like a typical cover image for Science Editor, but I hope the connection will make sense when you read my introductory Viewpoint “Notes on Transparency: An Elusive, and Illusive, Goal.”
Quarantine bonus activity! For no particular reason, I hid a reference as an acrostic to a thematically appropriate early 90s movie in the Viewpoint. If you find it and remember the movie, let me know.
Recent Online Article
In her new Gatherings of an Infovore column, Barbara Meyers Ford delves into the topic of author contributions and asks “Who Deserves CRediT?” The seemingly random capitalization is a clue that we’re talking about the Contributor Role Taxonomy (CRediT), of course, and Barbara provides a helpful overview of what that means along with a collection of related resources and articles.
A Call for Universal Time
With all meetings being virtual, it is a perfect opportunity to switch the world to one Universal Time Zone. Instead of a confusing patchwork of time zones with differing daylight and standard times, there should be one time that’s the same for everyone no matter the time of year; eg, 8:00 is 8:00 everywhere. Think about it: the CSE Meeting started at 11:30 Eastern Daylight Time; if someone was joining from the UK what time is that? Have they switched to DST yet? What about Arizona, San Francisco, Madrid, or Mumbai? Why bother with any of that when you could just say the meeting starts at 11:30 and that would be the case no matter where you are in the world. I realize that some who read this will scoff, but the next time you miss an important meeting because of time zone confusion, you will think of this and become a convert.
(I have long advocated for this to anyone who would listen, and HT to eLife EIC Michael Eisen for broaching this important topic on Twitter.)
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