Health IT

Social network for lab scientists captures personal drama behind researchers’ work

The things that motivate and engage biomedical researchers and the story behind the story of their work aren’t typically things we hear about. There’s generally no room for it in scientific papers. But one social network seeking to create more connections between researchers and academics has created a forum for scientists to share their personal […]

The things that motivate and engage biomedical researchers and the story behind the story of their work aren’t typically things we hear about. There’s generally no room for it in scientific papers. But one social network seeking to create more connections between researchers and academics has created a forum for scientists to share their personal stories from the lab experience to getting published.

It’s one of the latest components of ZappyLab’s PubChase platform. The website brings researchers and academics together to talk about the issues that drive them. It also lets users follow each other similar to what Tumblr and Pinterest do for picture sharing and Spotify does for music.

Lenny Teytelman, the co-founder of ZappyLab, said the motivation behind the “anti-journal club” came from a frustration with the paper shredding exercise  that makes journal clubs feel “useful but demoralizing.” He wanted to create a positive space where authors are invited to tell readers what it took to bring a paper to print and why it’s special to them.

“You spend what feels like eternity on the research, in the end carefully packaging the years of your life into a few published pages. The publication is, as it should be – results and conclusions. But what about the journey to the publication? Did you anticipate the opposite results? Was this an accidental discovery? What was the most daring and risky experiment here? What personal drama lies behind this neat and formal publication?”

Teytelman said the company wants to add a section where authors can interact and moderate questions and comments from readers to help manage and drive traffic to the journal articles and the authors’ essays.

It has also created PDF-friendly apps supported by ios and Android to view content on the website. Users can also see a feed of recently-added papers by other users in their network, providing automated personal recommendations.

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One goal is to have annotations of published research and create a conference-like meeting place online where scientists can correct and update their publications, and also engage and discuss with the readers.

Among some of the other groups using social media to connect scientists are LabRoots, Epernicus, and ResearchGate.

[Photo credit: Media human mobile from BigStock Photos]