CZ:Biology Week/PLoS

From Citizendium, the Citizens' Compendium
Jump to: navigation, search

One way to initiate some repetitive interaction between CZ and more traditional venues of scholarly communication like science journals would be a community page article in PLoS Biology (an Open Access journal, and perhaps the most widely read one in biology) describing the concept of Biology Week to a life science audience. The author guidelines for this are here, and previous examples of such community pages include

In order to harness the powers of a wiki for drafting the article, I suggest we do that here, in close collaboration with the CZ:Biology Workgroup and anybody else interested in Biology Week.


Aims of the article

Main points to make, considering the audience at PLoS Biology:

  1. What is Biology Week?
    • Give first occurrence (September 22-28, 2008) and details on planned regularity
  2. OK, and what is Citizendium then?
  3. Why should readers (scientists, teachers, students, interested public) participate?
    • What sorts of contributions are possible and/or expected (here, the groups should be addressed separately, though that's not easy within a concise piece of narrative writing)?
  4. Describe options for integration with other free educational projects
  5. Mention other CZ Workgroup weeks, most notably those for Health sciences and Anthropology (as these fields have a large overlap with Biology), and envisaged frequency of such events


Structure of the article

This is just a collection of keywords and phrases (about 500 words alltogether) that should facilitate discussion about the structure of the article. Once this has been agreed upon, they will serve as a guideline for detailed phrasing below.

What is Biology Week?

  • Nice quote on knowledge and science (or should we start with biology right away?), followed by a one-line invitation to lend their expertise to a collaborative education project: Biology Week at Citizendium, September 22-28, 2008


OK, and what is Citizendium then?

  • Science is the process by which knowledge about the physical world is structured on the basis of systematic inquiry by theoretical, experimental or empirical means.
(would be cool to sync this introductory phrase with Science/Definition)
  • Reference works, and encyclopedias in particular, represent a cornerstone in research
  • Reliability is key, and so is the involvement of experts
    • Traditional models relied on a set of paid editors whose combined expertise covered all fields within the scope of the reference work and who wrote individual articles rather independently, with little involvement of others. However, this model does not scale with the expansion of scientific (and other) knowledge
    • An obviously scalable approach is the involvement of volunteers via an internet-based wiki, as evidenced by the growth curve of Wikipedia. But here, quality can not generally be assured, since basically anybody can write (even anonymously) about any topic, regardless of their respective expertise in it, and changes instantly become part of that body of knowledge often referred to as the first free encyclopedia, without any vetting by experts. mention vandalism?
    • Citizendium is an attempt to combine the best of these two worlds:
      • Registration with real names required
      • The scope is wider than in traditional encyclopedias (e.g. it contains entries on pop culture; give examples) but narrower than in WP (family-friendlyness)
      • Two basic types of articles: Approved (after careful examination by experts) or not
      • Every registered user can edit any draft page but a draft page only gets the status of an encyclopedic article after expert review.


Why should readers (scientists, teachers, students, journalists, interested public) participate?

  • why should experts join?
    • public outreach and community service
    • eduzendium as an interactive learning/teaching environment - collaborative learning by structuring knowledge is a good preparation for later collaborative knowledge production in research teams
    • policy on taking academic credit is under way
    • contributions to traditional academic peer review (and the enormous efforts experts put in there) are largely invisible, which would not be the case with a wiki model with real name policy
    • civilized discussion atmosphere due to real-name policy
  • what about biology?
    • CZ covers many fields, both academic and beyond, but activities in the biomedical fields have been especially visible: Biology is second to history in terms of number of articles (followed by health sciences), and second to computers in terms of number of authors (followed by history) and fourth (after computers, engineering and health sciences) in number of editors, see also CZ:Statistics (--> there are people to work with)
    • CZ:Biology Workgroup/Biology Week/Pending decisions
    • bot assistance for fact picking can be made available on a case by case basis
  • what about original research?
    • it will not be allowed in the main namespace but might be so in subpages or other namespaces, details being discussed


Biology Week: What sorts of contributions are possible and/or expected?

  • Here, the groups -- scientists, teachers, students, journalists, interested public -- should be addressed separately, though that's not easy within a concise piece of narrative writing.
    • biologists and other researchers
    • teachers
    • students
    • journalists
    • interested public
    • others (e.g. politicians)
  • Technical support available?
  • Related Workgroup weeks


Options for integration with other free educational projects


Similar events?

  • Mention other CZ Workgroup weeks, most notably those for Health sciences and Anthropology, as these fields have a large overlap with Biology
  • Workgroup weeks will initially be held once a month

Schedule

  • July 14, submit manuscript
  • June 30, first draft finished, invite community feedback
  • June 23, structure of article finished (this includes structure of the figure and/ or box)
  • June 18, suggested phrasing to appropriately reflect the state of discussion on Things to be decided upon before first Biology Week, taking into account that the article should still be up to date in September when these decisions will, hopefully, have given rise to some appropriate policy

Draft

Text

1137 words

 Biological reference knowledge structured by experts and the public? 

Introduction

Scientific research is the systematic dwelling at the frontiers of knowledge. Since these are scattered in space and time, successful dwellers require reliable reference works that assemble existing knowledge. Diderot and d'Alembert created their "Encyclopédie" to serve this purpose[1], and over the two and a half centuries since, many other encyclopedias have been produced following their scheme: Written by scholars, they charged users for access to the information they provided at update intervals on the scale of years. This resulted in credibility, the core currency of reference works, but (by today's standards) in limited dissemination and slow reactions to new knowledge. Web-based wikis, spearheaded by the Wikipedias, have extended knowledge accumulation to fields far beyond any traditional notions of expertise, provide their information at no cost to the user, and invite anybody to contribute (even anonymously) on a voluntary basis. This makes them popular and updateable on scales way below years but vulnerable to vandalism, thereby precluding credibility. Due to such problems, wikis had a slow start into the academic world but expert-only wikis like Scholarpedia[2] or the Encyclopedia of Earth[3] are gaining ground, and with the continued growth, diversification and global availability of the Internet, knowledge and the structuring thereof are becoming ever more dynamic and participatory[4]. Some key biology databases and communities are going wiki[5][6][7][8], as did OpenWetWare [9] -- a place where lab notebooks are being kept in public. Besides, collaborative learning by structuring knowledge is a good preparation for later collaborative knowledge production in research teams. Collaborative, peer-to-peer learning principles thus develop in parallel and lead to more student-centred learning environments[10].

Citizendium (CZ)

Citizendium [11][12] is a web-based educational and reference platform that seeks to combine expert knowledge with public participation in a way that harvests the strengths of both worlds and avoids the major pitfalls of unilateral approaches. It allows anybody to contribute under their real names, provides all of its contents for free, and hosts two basic flavours of articles: As in Wikipedia [13], most content pages can be edited by any user but the information they contain will not be considered reliable. Credibility is lent to an article in a very traditional way, i.e. by means of approval by experts ("editors"). The approved articles then serve as a reliable introduction to a topic (much like in paper encyclopedias, just more up-to-date), and all the non-approved versions ("drafts") as an educational playground. Approved versions cannot be edited but work on an approved article can continue in the draft version which may eventually enter the approval process again.

This two-step (and potentially cyclic) approach is conceptually similar to the thermal ratchet, the principle behind molecular motors [14][15]: Whereas Brownian motion can drive the paddle wheel randomly, the ratchet's movement will only follow if the pawl permits. The pawl's role (which requires energy) at CZ will be played by people whose life's work is to know things and who are willing to share the knowledge they have acquired during long years of dedication to their field. Consequently, CZ contributors are given credence for their work: The wiki allows to track individual contributions in a much more detailed way than any non-wiki system currently used in scholarly communication. This transparency of contributions to the structuring and expansion of global knowledge may well provide a fertile ground for the careers of knowledge workers and workers-to-be.

Education at CZ

Taking this educational concept one step further, Citizendium, in collaboration with teachers and lecturers, has launched Eduzendium [16], a project that allows students to write their course assignments online on the Citizendium. Students work for course credits, and their teachers grade the finished work based on the quality of the article drafts produced from each student's input. But by writing their assignments under this scheme, students not only get to earn grade credits, they can see their work online and add to the global store of knowledge. By collaborating with the rapidly growing Citizendium community of expert and non-expert authors, they stand good chances that their essays eventually develop into a lasting encyclopedic article. Not surprisingly, educators who opted for Eduzendium noticed a higher degree of enthusiasm amongst their students. This brings us to the key difference between CZ and Feynman's[17] original Brownian ratchet: Given the incentive of presenting one's knowledge on a platform that regularly attracts putative employers or academic supervisors, the input provided by most registered users can be expected to average well above thermal noise, thereby facilitating the role of the pawl, or CZ editors. Finally, perhaps best of all, students get to learn in a highly collaborative real-time way, and rumours have it that they might actually have fun doing so. The educational potential of CZ is enhanced by the use of subpages which provide for an easy integration with other free educational materials like videos, e.g. the non-profit, K-12 educational video contest WatchKnow [18] or, at undergraduate level, the non-profit World Lecture Project [19].

Research at CZ

As in traditional encyclopedias and Wikipedia, original research will not be allowed in the main namespace of CZ. Discussions are afloat for including original contributions in the subpages or other namespaces. Ways to take academic credit for contributions to CZ are also being discussed [20], whereas bot assistance for fact picking (as in [7]) can be made available on a case-by-case basis to facilitate data-intensive contributions.

Biology at CZ

CZ covers many fields, both academic and beyond, but activities in the biomedical fields have been especially visible: Biology is second to history in terms of number of articles (followed by health sciences), and second to computers in terms of number of authors (followed by history) and fourth (after computers, engineering and health sciences) in number of editors (for details, see the CZ statistics [21].

"Biology" was the first article to be approved in Citizendium (on December 15, 2006, half a year after the launch of the project) [22]. The article Biology makes good use of subpages for related articles, bibliography, external links, gallery, videos and signed articles. This article's history also highlights how experts and non-experts work shoulder on shoulder, and that may be inspirational for others to join the bandwagon. A good opportunity for that will be "Biology Week" -- the first of a whole series of topic-dedicated weeks that will initially be held once a month (watch out for Health Sciences Week, Food Science Week, Agriculture Week and Anthropology Week).

"Biology Week" is scheduled to be held during September 22 to September 28, 2008. For all biologists, this is a chance to start sharing their expertise by creating and improving biology articles, or to satisfy their curiosity by browsing (and contributing to) articles on other subjects. As explained above, students can even get credits for that, while journalists can lend their phrasing skills to make articles more attractive to non-specialist readers, and all the interested public can participate -- it is a wiki.



Figure caption:
The Citizendium (CZ) - a wiki that allows registered, non-anonymous authors to edit any article, 
with the results approved by qualified editors - is planning a big "online convention" of biologists: 
Biology Week, to take place worldwide at Citizendium.org on September 22-28, 2008.
References
  1. Diderot, D.; D'Alembert, J. (1751). Encyclopédie ou dictionnaire raisonné des sciences, des arts et des métiers (Encyclopedia or systematic dictionary of the sciences, arts and crafts). Paris: Briasson, David, Le Breton, Durand. 
  2. Main Page - Scholarpedia. Retrieved on July 17, 2008.
  3. Main Page - Encyclopedia of Earth. Retrieved on July 17, 2008.
  4. Butler, D. (2005). "Science in the web age: joint efforts". Nature 438 (7068): 548-9. DOI:10.1038/438548a. Research Blogging.
  5. Giles, J. (2007). "Key biology databases go wiki". Nature 445 (7129): 691. DOI:10.1038/445691a. Research Blogging.
  6. Mons, B.; Ashburner, M.; Chichester, C.; Van Mulligen, E.; Weeber, M.; Den Dunnen, J.; Van Ommen, G.J.; Musen, M.; Cockerill, M.; Hermjakob, H.; Others, (2008). "Calling on a million minds for community annotation in WikiProteins". Genome Biology 9 (5): R89. DOI:10.1186/gb-2008-9-5-r89. Research Blogging.
  7. 7.0 7.1 Huss III, J.W.; Orozco, C.; Goodale, J.; Wu, C.; Batalov, S.; Vickers, T.J.; Valafar, F.; Su, A.I. (2008). "A Gene Wiki for Community Annotation of Gene Function". PLoS Biology 6 (7): e175. DOI:10.1371/journal.pbio.0060175. Research Blogging.
  8. Biology-Online Dictionary. Retrieved on July 17, 2008.
  9. Main Page - OpenWetWare. Retrieved on July 17, 2008.
  10. Boulos, M.N.; Maramba, I.; Wheeler, S. (2006). "Wikis, blogs and podcasts: a new generation of Web-based tools for virtual collaborative clinical practice and education". BMC Medical Education 6 (41): 1472-6920. DOI:10.1186/1472-6920-6-41. Research Blogging[e]
  11. Welcome to Citizendium - encyclopedia article - Citizendium. Retrieved on July 17, 2008.
  12. Giles, J. (2006). "Wikipedia rival calls in the experts". Nature 443 (7111): 493. DOI:10.1038/443493a. Research Blogging.
  13. Wikipedia:Researching with Wikipedia - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Retrieved on July 17, 2008.
  14. Oster, G. (2002). "Brownian ratchets: Darwin's motors". Nature 417 (6884): 25. DOI:10.1038/417025a. Research Blogging.
  15. Ait-Haddou, R.; Herzog, W. (2003). "Brownian ratchet models of molecular motors". Cell Biochemistry and Biophysics 38 (2): 191-213. DOI:10.1385/CBB:38:2:191. Research Blogging.
  16. Eduzendium - the collaborative learning environment. Retrieved on July 17, 2008.
  17. Feynman, R.P.; Leighton, R.B.; Sands, M. (1963). The Feynman Lectures on Physics, Vol. 1. Addison Wesley, Reading MA. 
  18. WatchKnow. Retrieved on July 17, 2008.
  19. World Lecture Project. Retrieved on July 17, 2008.
  20. How to cite Citizendium articles. Retrieved on July 17, 2008.
  21. Citizendium - Statistics. Retrieved on July 17, 2008.
  22. Biology - encyclopedia article - Citizendium. Retrieved on July 17, 2008.
Potentially useful phrases
  Should a reference be made to: Biology Online Dictionary? Also, that Key biology databases go wiki may be cited.

Why should readers (scientists, teachers, students, journalists, interested public) get involved?

Expertness, in turn, develops over years of in-depth involvement with a particular set of subjects. This requires an early start, dedication and a suitable learning environment.

  • why should experts join?
    • public outreach and community service
    • eduzendium as an interactive learning/teaching environment - collaborative learning by structuring knowledge is a good preparation for later collaborative knowledge production in research teams
    • policy on taking academic credit is under way
    • contributions to traditional academic peer review (and the enormous efforts experts put in there) are largely invisible, which would not be the case with a wiki model with real name policy
    • civilized discussion atmosphere due to real-name policy
  • what about biology?
    • CZ covers many fields, both academic and beyond, but activities in the biomedical fields have been especially visible: Biology is second to history in terms of number of articles (followed by health sciences), and second to computers in terms of number of authors (followed by history) and fourth (after computers, engineering and health sciences) in number of editors, see also CZ:Statistics (--> there are people to work with)
    • CZ:Biology Workgroup/Biology Week/Pending decisions
    • bot assistance for fact picking can be made available on a case by case basis
  • what about original research?
    • it will not be allowed in the main namespace but might be so in subpages or other namespaces, details being discussed


Biology Week: What sorts of contributions are possible and/or expected?

  • Here, the groups -- scientists, teachers, students, journalists, interested public -- should be addressed separately, though that's not easy within a concise piece of narrative writing.
    • biologists and other researchers
    • teachers
    • students
    • journalists
    • interested public
    • others (e.g. politicians)
  • Technical support available?
  • Related Workgroup weeks


Options for integration with other free educational projects


Present approval mechanism and some examples from Category:Biology Approved.

Image or box?

We can have either an image or a box but perhaps also both (see previous community pages).

  • What about a box that lists the key properties of CZ with respect to similar projects readers might be familiar with (mainly EB and WP)?
  • A good image would probably be of help, and something in the style of 100px or Anthropology mural by Stephen Ewen CC-by-sa.jpg

would seem appropriate - the field is depicted as a whole, yet its diversity is evident, too. Any suggestions as to how we can get the idea of a recurrent Biology week into such a figure?


Suggested Image structure
  • A mosaic-like image that can serve in the Biology article (instead of Image:Montage2.jpg) and, together with some symbolic indication of "Week" or even Citizendium, as the illustration of the PLoS article.
  • This image should make use of the images currently featured in Biology/Gallery but these should be arranged in a more logical order (similar to this depiction of the solar system and this image of the carbon cycle), perhaps best by level of biological organization. However, the molecular and population levels are missing there - if anybody has a good image that could be used here, please post the link here.
  • A first draft of the image is available here:
    Draft image for PLoS article on Biology week 080622mr.jpg.