Accelerating Science Discovery - Join the Discussion

Transparency of Scientific Information

by Mike Jennings on Thu, 2 Jul, 2009

As a coordinator of Web 2 media and product technology at OSTI, I've often wondered whether the stakeholders involved in the development of DOE scientific reports could benefit more from web innovations such as websites, blog sites, subscriptions, and "live" content. The commercial Web and its second generation of Web 2 innovations have certainly been relevant factors in the transparency equation for other types of information on the Web outside of science. Specifically, I suggest that Web innovations would complement electronic document innovations for the transparency of DOE scientific information reports.

The majority of new DOE scientific information is preserved in commercial electronic document formats like the Adobe PDF format which require special software to view and navigate the information. PDF document technology is less useful for certain features. This is especially true for web browsers and mobile devices.

By promoting a mix of conventional and modern Web innovations in DOE's research documentation life-cycle, the following benefits could be realized for DOE scientific and technical information:

  • Conventional websites use hyper-linking to connect a thought written in one document to another thought "anchored" in another document. Perhaps hyper-linking is a better way for one DOE researcher to cite the work of another.
  • Blog sites automatically provide chronological, topical, and subject-relational approaches for studying information whereas electronic documents usually present only one sequential read of the information.
  • Subscription to website content is more convenient.  The RSS and email protocols enable websites and blogs to deliver frequent, bite-size information to mobile devices.  Mobile devices are less able to manage the software needed to access the information stored inside electronic documents. 
  • Electronic documents are mostly static.  But websites use both conventional and modern innovations to  embed "live" content on Web pages from realtime sources like open science archives, dictionary content, news content, notification services, and public opinion.

    In support of transparency, the OSTI Web 2.0 Team is already finding ideas and opinions on the web about DOE R&D and hyperlinking back to relevant DOE information pages. We are also enabling subscriptions to new information about DOE R&D. We are also embedding live access to DOE findings and information about DOE research through the use of widget technologies.

    We would be very excited to elaborate on how these approaches could make the scientific information inside electronic documents more transparent.

    Mike Jennings

    Web 2 Research and Innovation 

Other Related Topics: electronic documents, transparency, web 2.0

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