EB2012, Twitter, Blogging and Science

I have always loved EB. It is a whirlwind of scientific excess with too many conflicting oral presentations and posters/scientists to visit in one hour. And that is just the science part. The remainder of the day disappears as I run into friends in the convention center, hotel lobby, and various receptions.

For me, EB2012 is especially interesting. That is because my horizon has expanded to include social media, especially twitter (@mimcburney).

If you don’t know me, I ‘cut my teeth’ as a scientist in an era when graduate students perused Current Contents every week. We filled out little request cards and mailed them to researchers. Weeks, and months later (hopefully), corresponding authors mailed (snail mail) a journal reprint to you. Scientists collected these papers and developed their own reprint libraries, sometimes spanning filing cabinets for the most diligent. Professors impressed by the number of journals lining their shelves and the completeness of these collections. Academic institutions were ranked by the breadth and depth of their collections. I still have pack rat tendencies. The difference is that in 2012, the collection is in pdf format and on a hard drive. The lack of structure to my filing system remains unchanged.

The second thing to know is that I chair the Publications Management Committee (PMC) for the American Society of Nutrition. I have been doing this since July, 2008. During this time, ASN has made many of its publication processes electronic and adopted a single publisher for its two landmark journals – American Journal of Clinical Nutrition with an impact factor of 6.6 and the Journal of Nutrition with an impact factor of 4.3. In 2010, ASN launched a new journal – Advances in Nutrition. We also have launched 2012 Best of Clinical Nutrition Book. Operational efficiencies have helped us reduce operating costs. In 2011, we adopted differential rates for electronic vs electronic and print subscriptions. It is important to reduce costs and maintain subscriptions because 64% of ASN revenues are from subscriptions. Without subscription revenues, many of the accomplishments of ASN, including more than $439,158 in scientific awards in 2011, would be at jeopardy. And this experience helps explain my preoccupation with the impact of open access journals on the future of professional societies.

Third, over the past 2 years, I began blogging and using twitter. As part of my responsibilities at DSM, and with the help of @juliakbird, we produce a blog TalkingNutrition. It is tweeted via @dsmnutrition and posted to facebook/TalkingNutritionDSM. During 2011, over 210 blogs were posted to http://TalkingNutrition.dsm.com. This equates to about 94% of working days in the US.

Because I monitor electronic publications and bloggers, I have become fascinated with the impact of social media on science communications. EB2012 has been a mind-opening experience. If you don’t have a twitter account, get one. It opens the world. You don’t have to tweet. Personally, I like to express myself but the power lies in seeing new information and ideas shared in real-time.

I am really sorry that my PMC commitments prohibited me from attending Sunday’s session on social media. However, you can get the gist by following #apscom or reading Heather Doran’s (@hapsci) guide to twitter http://sciencehastheanswer.blogspot.com/. According to Courtney Gaine (@CourtGaine), it was spectacularly good.

There is an EB2012 tweetup tonight, 7-9pm, at the Mission Brewery. Unfortunately, my commitments to ASN will keep me from dropping by. If you are reading this, I hope you will go. I promise to read your tweets!

About Michael McBurney

Personal Blog | Nutrition scientist with broad interests, including social media and the impact of open access journals on science publishing | Self-employed freelancer
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