Micropublication Workflows

Carly Strasser Jan 20, 2018

As the newest member of the Coko team, I’m still learning how we make the magic happen with our partners and community members. Last week, I got to see the magic in action during a great meeting with micropublication.org. Part of this magic involves the Cabbage Tree Method—a process Adam designed to help publishers and researchers design their own workflows. While Adam facilitated, the WormBasers Daniela Raciti, Karen Yook, and Todd Harris designed components of their ideal micropublication platform, based on Coko’s PubSweet toolkit. In case you don’t know what micropublications, WormBase, or MODs are, here’s some background.

Micropublications. I haven’t been able to find a formal definition, but it’s generally agreed that micropubs are published pieces that relay small amounts of information that, taken alone, would not constitute a more traditional publication. Micropubs are thought to remove some of the barriers of sharing scientific information, making the process faster and easier while still providing credit and incentives for authors. The most commonly referenced (and likely most well known) micropublication venue is PLOS Currents. Their stated goal is to “minimize the delay between the generation and publication of new research, and publishes content which is peer-reviewed; citable; publicly archived in PubMed; and indexed by Scopus.” PLOS Currents seems rather inactive these days, but the Wormbase and Micropublication groups are going strong.

WormBase is “an international consortium of biologists and computer scientists dedicated to providing the research community with accurate, current, accessible information concerning the genetics, genomics and biology of C. elegans and related nematodes.” It was founded in 2000 and is led by a consortium of researchers and is one of many MODs.

MODs are model organism databases “dedicated to the provision of in-depth biological data for intensively studied model organism”. Along with WormBase, other MODs include FlyBase (for the fruitfly Drosophila melanogaster), ZFIN (for the zebrafish), and EcoCyc (for the bacteria Escherichia coli).

So why are MODs interested in micropublications? Well, these groups deal with snippets of information specific to their favorite organism, which would ideally be shared quickly with others in the community. Snippets include phenotypic or genotypic data, gene expression data, or new methods for working with their favorite organism. MODs are a perfect partner for thinking through micropublications because of this. The “About” page on micropublication.org sums up the benefits of micropublications for their community nicely – check it out.

Coko’s involvement. In the coming months, we will continue to help WormBase/Micropublications to further their designs, and take those ideas to the broader MOD community to get feedback and input. We are in the early stages, but it’s already shaping up to be an exciting project. Of course, the technology goals of this group align nicely with Coko’s thinking about how to improve traditional journal publication workflows and platforms, so it’s a win-win. We will keep you posted as the micropublication discussion evolves here on the blog!

About the Author

Carly Strasser

Carly is the Director of Strategic Development for Coko.

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