Web 2.0 technologies have enabled the merging of different types of publications into one, the Internet, with millions of authors and billions of readers. Science is not an exception. Countless articles are presented in the Web as “scientific” in content, but there is a thin line between solid science and speculation. Are personal blogs appropriate for such everyday-science content and, more importantly, can they be trusted as true?
Well, blogs are not meant to publish research papers. Everybody knows that. The reason is not because of the content or the medium; it’s because of the intended audience. Many respectable public repositories of scientific papers like arxiv.org and citeseer.net contain a vast amount of true scientific knowledge. Scientific publications like Nature, Scientific American and New Scientist have their own blogging sections. Dedicated portals like Science20.com and Scientceblog.com publish thousands of science-related posts daily. There are even Facebook-like social networks for scientists, like ResearchGate and Academia.com.
There is a notorious “guide for authors” (pdf) for those who wish to actually publish a research paper in one of IEEE’s scientific journals. It illustrates, in a very graphic and hilarious way, the difference between a simple statement like “1+1=2” and the way it should be presented in a more impressive scientific form. The sad thing is, it’s not very far from the truth! Everyone who’s working on research and writes such papers has at least a few similar stories to tell, where a submitted paper was rejected in one journal as insufficient, only to get published in another with honors.