April 4, 2008

myScience: “social software” for scientists

myExperimentWith apologies to Jonathan Swift:

“Great sites have little sites upon their back to bite ’em
And little sites have lesser sites, and so ad infinitum…”

So what happened was, Carole Goble asked on the myExperiment mailing list, “is there a list of scientist social networking sites”? Here is first attempt at such a list (not comprehensive), you’ll have to decide for yourself which are the great, greater, little and lesser sites.

For simplicity, I’ll break social software down into social networking, data sharing, blogging, ranking and video. These categories aren’t exclusive, as some sites do more than one of these tasks, but they help to classify the wild wild web of social software.

Social networking sites: “Me and my mates”

The primary focus of these social networking sites is to connect friends, actual, virtual or otherwise:

Data sharing sites: “some interesting data I want to share”

The focus of these data sharing sites is to share many different kinds of data among peers (or strangers), whether it be scientific papers (see our review [1]), arbitrary web sites, photos or any other kind of database.

Blogging sites: “You post, we host”

These sites make blogging easier. By providing a hosting service of some kind, “you post, we host”…

For more blogging software, see the wikipedia entry of weblog software, which is more comprehensive.

Social ranking: “This is great, but that sucks”

These services aggregate many different sites into a single place and rank them according to some criteria, often using the (supposed) “wisdom of crowds” or a more formal kind of peer-review:

Video killed the webbio star

These sites adapted the YouTube idea for more Scientific purposes, by linking videos to “proper” peer-reviewed scientific publications

Some of the above is adapted from Stian Soiland‘s Fluffy Web 2.0 demo and an article by from David Crotty at Cold Spring Harbor: Why Web 2.0 is failing in biology. While we’re on the subject, “Media Studies” professor Tara Brabazon argues that “Web 2.0 has become a warm and dark space for people with too much time and too few ideas”. Judging by the innovative list of sites above, I’d have to disagree with her.

So, if there are any important science-oriented “social software” sites I missed, please let me know…


  1. Duncan Hull, Steve Pettifer and Douglas B. Kell (2008). Defrosting the digital library: Bibliographic tools for the next generation web. PLoS Computational Biology, 4(10):e1000204+. DOI:10.1371/journal.pcbi.1000204, pmid:18974831, pmcid:2568856, citeulike:3467077

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  1. OpenWetWare might be more “data-sharing” then blogging – you can see the labs (http://openwetware.org/wiki/Labs) or Protocols (http://openwetware.org/wiki/Protocols) sections as examples. Blogs are a relatively new thing on the site. This is a useful list though, thanks for the post!

    Comment by jason — April 4, 2008 @ 11:28 am | Reply

  2. Hi Jason, I see what you mean, I’ve moved OpenWetWare from the blogging category to data sharing. How do OpenWetWare users get blogs? Are they given by default to all users, or do you have to request them (and be vetted) like on Nature Network?

    Comment by Duncan — April 4, 2008 @ 1:17 pm | Reply

  3. Wow, great list, nice to see this compiled all together. The problem, of course, is that by next week, the list will be woefully incomplete as there will be another 4 or 5 startups to add. I see that you’re already missing:
    Genome Technology Forum

    Among others. But such is the state of the current “gold rush” mentality toward Web 2.0 and science.

    Also, if you’re interested, I’ve just posted version 2.0 of the talk you linked above. The first one was given to a publishing conference, basically trying to tell the industry where it was going off track with Web 2.0. The new version was given at a developmental biology conference, with some of the same content, but with an emphasis on talking about what Web 2.0 principles are really useful, and whether there are places where they’re being applied.

    Comment by David Crotty — April 4, 2008 @ 1:54 pm | Reply

  4. How about slideshare (http://www.slideshare.net/) ?
    As the name suggests, it is for sharing slides, mostly of scientific nature.

    Comment by kay — April 4, 2008 @ 6:33 pm | Reply

  5. Slideshare, of course, how could I forget? Thanks for reminding me…

    Comment by Duncan — April 5, 2008 @ 8:37 am | Reply

  6. Glad to see these resources being compiled up. Some more links worth adding:

    HubZero (http://hubzero.org/)
    Plos ONE (http://www.plosone.org/)
    PubMed (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/sites/entrez)

    Comment by Yuwei — April 5, 2008 @ 8:12 pm | Reply

  7. Hello Yuwei, thanks for the links. I forgot about PLoS but I wouldn’t class pubmed.gov as social software, in fact its very unsociable at the moment! PubMed does offer some personalisation through MyNCBI, but this isn’t quite what I meant by “social software@.

    Comment by Duncan — April 8, 2008 @ 2:32 pm | Reply

  8. Hi Duncan,
    At the moment OWW users receive blogs by requesting them (rather than by default). We don’t have any extra vetting for getting a blog, but we have vetting for becoming an OWW community member in the first place (though it’s a low bar) — you need to be a researcher interested in biology or biological engineering, that’s about it.

    Comment by jason — April 15, 2008 @ 2:22 pm | Reply

  9. Uno mas

    Comment by Ben — April 22, 2008 @ 5:24 pm | Reply

  10. […] myScience: “social software” for scientists: [Via O’Really? at Duncan.Hull.name] With apologies to Jonathan Swift: […]

    Pingback by Social media sites for scientists — May 20, 2008 @ 8:10 pm | Reply

  11. http://researchblogging.org/

    Comment by Richard Akerman — June 5, 2008 @ 2:39 pm | Reply

  12. Great list! You could add Sciyo too – http://sciyo.com – it’s an open access scientific platform with over 10 000 users, all of them have their own profile, can add each other as colleagues, share their videos, documents and other works.

    Comment by Drazen — May 18, 2010 @ 1:21 pm | Reply

  13. There’s a relatively new site called Quartzy (https://www.quartzy.com), which offers online lab management completely free to scientists. You set up your network by having the people in your lab join and agree to be your “LabMates”. Once you’re connected, your inventories are shared, so you now know who has what and where it’s kept. They have an easy Excel import mechanism, and a very clean interface.

    Comment by Adam — September 13, 2010 @ 4:30 am | Reply

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