Social networking is all the rage. So how is it playing out in the sciences and how can medical and scitech librarians harness it? How can we assist nurse managers and front-line physicians taking a stab at clinical research for the first time and who want to present their work in an audiovisual fashion without being referred to YouTube (which is often blocked by hypervigilant IT guys in hospital/corporate settings in any case)? Take a look at ScienceStage. It is designed for research scientists, but it could be used by staff in community hospitals as a platform for forays as novice researchers by working doctors, pharmacists, nurses, physical therapists and other medical types.
I started in the field of medical librarianship in 2004 and have in that fairly short interval seen my job change from pulling articles off the shelf to having to try, for instance, to determine whether the information I have been requested to locate is lurking in a podcast somewhere and figuring out the best way to preserve and disseminate lectures and educational presentations made within the walls of a single institution or in the local community, moving from VHS to DVDs and podcasting—and in a very firewall-minded environment in which even Google can be blocked from time to time—never mind getting authority to experiment with streaming video. Don’t laugh—these are real concerns and realities to medical librarians and to nurse educators everywhere.
Medical librarians (and I would think librarians in community colleges and non-librarians in public health departments and nonprofits in many realms) are often tasked with helping staff prepare workshops and talks for the public or regional professional organizations. Here is where new services like ScienceStage come in.
It is the ideal resource to point new researchers to as a sleek repository of information on RSS and info sharing. It centralizes services and saves librarians from having to explain what can be done these days on the Web with the plethora of talks, workshop materials, and handouts from one-of continuing medical education lectures and so forth. It is an elegant, well-put together, well-edited site. It is an ideal launching pad for those with valuable information to convey, but who don’t happen to be on the staff of Harvard Medical School or blessed with the services of the University of Pennsylvania. Yes, there are brilliant people in small hospitals and elsewhere outside the Ivy League.
Here is a bit from the About Us Page:
“ScienceStage.com will enable scientists, lecturers, academics, students and practitioners from all fields to present and share ideas and findings through video streaming, audio streaming and text documents. They can make use of classical community functions like chat, email, blog etc., they can install virtual rooms, assess contributions, make interesting contacts and much more besides.
ScienceStage offers the following primary features:
- Publishing of video and audio clips (e.g. lectures, interviews)
- Publishing of text documents (e.g. scientific papers, lecture notes, study documents)
- Commenting and assessing of contributions, embedding of all media
- Creation of playlists and lists of favorites
- Community and networking functions: creating of personal or institutional profiles (e.g. for individuals, universities, institutes, publishers), email, chat, blog
- Creating of groups
- Search functions”
That is a very nice encapsulation of what can be done these days by new researchers and I can envision medical librarians in smallish health networks and in rural settings trying to create sites of their own using ScienceStage to showcase in-house quality improvement projects and archive CME talks. High school and community college teachers trying to interest kids in science could show them how to create polished products and upload them to a real, thoughtful audience via ScienceStage.com.
So far on ScienceStage the pickings on medicine are slim indeed. But these are early days. This is a handsome site and well worth investigating by everyone from established investigators with a dozen NIH grants to her credit to an early career diabetes educator who wants to upload a paper she has presented to a small group of peers.
ScienceStage is far more promising and feature-rich than BiomedExperts and could be used in conjunction with Vadlo, which has a nice cache of PowerPoint presentations. More power to these new services for making it easy to upload useful materials. ScienceStage is a slick way to disseminate your research findings in a professional looking venue accessible to anyone with an Internet connection. I am impressed and very much heartened by the way more and more useful materials are being rendered accessible in an attractive fashion.
We are quickly moving away from the well-intentioned but clunky, creaky, downright ugly interfaces of grey literature repositories and open access publications to quite beautiful, compelling interfaces and superb search and upload functionality. ScienceStage is a powerful, easy-to-use tool for spotlighting good science and worthwhile research and if word gets around about it, it has the potential to become a real hub for educators and clinicians everywhere.
Finding sites like this really does make one feel thankful for the efforts of skillful people committed to social networking for the common good and the advancement of science. And I am jealous—I wanted to make something like this!
By Hope Leman