ScienceOnline09 - On Reputation


If you check out the Program of the ScienceOnline09 conference, you will notice that there will be three sessions that address, each from a different angle, the question of building and maintaining scientific authority and reputation online: in scientific papers, in comments on scientific papers, and on science blogs:

Reputation, authority and incentives. Or: How to get rid of the Impact Factor

This session is moderated by Peter Binfield and Bjoern Brembs:

Historically, there has been much use and misuse of Thomson Scientific's (Thomson Reuters) Impact Factor (IF). Originally devised to rank journals according to the citations its articles draw, it has subsequently been misused to rank the authors publishing in these journals.
In this respect, the first question to be addressed would be as to whether we will need to rank journals in the future. In other words, should where something is published matter at all? If this question is answered with 'YES', what could be better criteria for objective journal rank?
Irrespective of how the initial question is answered, the next question is whether or not we need a per-publication assessment tool (which could then be aggregated for each scientist). In this discussion, the main message to be kept in mind is that there is no replacement for actually reading a scientist's contributions. Should this be practically impossible or other important reasons preclude reading all relevant contributions, what new criteria would make the most sense for evaluating research and researchers?

Once we know what we want to replace the IF with, how would we go about replacing the de facto stranglehold the IF has on the major decision-making bodies in science? In other words, if we can agree on technically feasible, meaningful alternatives, what is the best way to popularize these methods and push the IF out of the marketplace?

Transitions - changing your online persona as your real life changes

This session is moderated by ScienceWoman and Propterdoc:

As you move from high school to college, then to grad school and postdoc, and finally get a job in academia or elsewhere, you leave your name (and thoughts and pictures) all over the Web. When you are blogging as a student or postdoc, your style and choice of topics probably reflects your position in the Academia. How do you change your blog once you get hired (without alienating your regular readers) so it works for you in your new position? How do you manage your online persona so what is out there on the Web about you reflects what you do at the moment and not the 'shady' past?

Anonymity, Pseudonymity - building reputation online

This session is moderated by PalMD and Abel. Pseudonymous women-in-science bloggers are also being tapped for leadership and input (please add to the wiki!):

There are good reasons for people in science and medicine, and especially women, to remain pseudonymous online. How does one build a reputation online, how does the process differ from the formal process of the academic world, and how the two worlds interract?



1) Types of identity: real name, pseudonymity, anonymity

2) Reasons

3) Particular issues of women-in-STEM bloggers

4) Pitfalls

5) Being outed: an inevitability

6) Are there responsibilities in writing with a pseudonym?

This last one has already provoked a vigorous discussion on various blogs. Check them out:

Terra Sigillata: The Pseudonymity Laboratory: Do you trust me?
Denialism blog: Why should I trust you?
DrugMonkey: Abel's Excellent Pseudonymity Inquiry
Terra Sigillata: The Pseudonymity Laboratory: Up from the Comments
DrugMonkey: Pseudonymous Blogging Panel
Comrade PhysioProf: Not This Fucking Shit Again
Terra Sigillata: The Pseudonymity Laboratory: PhysioProf Provides Slide Number One
Pro-science: Blogging anonymously
Terra Sigillata: The Pseudonymity Laboratory: Does Formal Certification Increase Credibility?
DrugMonkey: On a Blogger's Responsibility to Anonymous Commenters
Denialism blog: The ethics of blog anonymity
Adventures in Ethics and Science: Why would anybody want to blog under a pseudonym?
Terra Sigillata: The Pseudonymity Laboratory: On Threatened or Actual Outing
Sciencewomen: Pseudonymity doesn't matter in the women in STEM blog community?


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To those not following our discussion, PalMD and I (and a couple of pseudonymous women bloggers) will be leading a discussion session on the needs and justification for anonymity or pseudonymity in blogging at the upcoming ScienceOnline'09 conference (16-18 Jan 2009 in RTP, NC, USA). I've also…
Wow. Thank you, dear Terra Sig readers, for your thoughtful responses to our first query about the concept of blogger pseudonymity. For background, I have threatened to reveal myself (in text, not photographically) and wished to use this opportunity to provide grist for a session led by me, PalMD…
At the upcoming ScienceOnline'09 conference (16-18 Jan 2009 in RTP, NC, USA), PalMD and I will be leading a discussion session on the needs and justification for anonymity or pseudonymity in blogging. Women bloggers have additional needs for blogging under a pseudonym and PalMD and I are currently…