The Liquid Publications Project is a Framework Program 7 (FP7) funded research project in the Future and Emerging Technologies (FET) OPEN series. This introduction to the project is intended to describe what were trying to accomplish in a more publicly accessible form. In the following sections well cover the Liquid Publications Projects motivation, objectives, potential benefits, challenges, and research plans.
The production of scientific knowledge in the form of conference papers, journal articles, and textbooks has failed to keep pace with advances in Information and Communications Technology (ICT). The World-Wide Web and other advances in computer technologies have had noticeable effect on the ways scientific activity is conducted, but little effect on the ways scientific knowledge is produced, disseminated, evaluated, and consumed.
The Liquid Publications Project is based on the primary intuition that the evolution and use of scientific knowledge objects is similar to the evolution and use of open-source software. Both scientific knowledge and open-source software are complex, malleable, artistic creations of the human mind that evolve in multiple directions through collaboration. Further, just as computer software has become de-coupled from specific computer hardware, scientific knowledge has become de-coupled from the specific physical aspects of a scientific field through storage, manipulation, simulation, and recombination in electronic form.
While scientific collaborations and collaboration technologies have advanced, the collaborative evaluation of scientific knowledge has not. Scientific communities continue to evaluate scientific knowledge using essentially the same peer-review techniques used 100 years ago.
Project Objectives and Benefits
This project will explore how ICT and lessons from the software engineering and social web communities can be applied to provoke a radical paradigm shift shift in the way scientific knowledge is created, disseminated, evaluated, and maintained. This new paradigm will transform a scientific publication from a static artifact to a Liquid Publication that can take multiple forms, that evolves continuously, and is enriched by multiple sources. The expected benefits of this transformation are:
Earlier and greater circulation of innovative ideas, hence, more effective dissemination.
Collaborative research efforts built on previous knowledge.
Optimization of the time researchers spend creating, assessing and disseminating knowledge while improving the quality of the paper selection processes for conferences and journals.
Rationalization of credit attribution processes based on social networks, team and community work, collaborative problem solving, social reputation, and distribution of knowledge.
Delivery of innovative products and services for publishers that add value to their traditional businesses.
Achieving program objectives and realizing the benefits presents both technical and social research challenges. Technical challenges include how to identify a model for scientific knowledge creation and dissemination that encourages early release of results, facilitates collaboration, assigns credit fairly, and simplifies dissemination; how to model and structure digital objects that embody a variety of evolutionary and collaborative knowledge creation processes; and how to identify social, low-effort, and continuous quality assessment methods. The primary social challenge is to gain support from the scientific community who will have to depart from the current publication selection models and embrace a radical change in the way scientific contributions are created, managed, and evaluated.
We aim to overcome the research challenges and achieve the project objectives by modeling the three main interacting components: Scientific Knowledge Objects, People, and Processes.
Scientific Knowledge Objects (SKO for short) embody the digital aspects of a traditional scientific paper, plus the evolutionary, social, collaborative, composable, and evolving nature of scientific knowledge creation processes. Defining, implementing, and testing SKOs will form the basis of the research.
People are the agents involved in the scientific knowledge processes, playing various cooperating and competing roles. Investigating roles and role interations will be a primary research activity of the project.
Processes govern the creation, evaluation, and evolution of SKOs and, hence, manage their lifecycle. These processes include modification, evolution, management (for example: access, intellectual property concerns, or legal aspects), and assessment.
In summary, this project will examine the complex web of interactions between SKOs, people, roles, and processes.