The recent controversy which erupted when Elsevier bought reference management and collaboration platform Mendeley illustrates the volatile frontier between the old world of traditional academic publishing and the open, collaborative environments of social media.
It’s this frontier which is documented in From Science 2.0 to Pharma 3.0, Semantic search and social media in the pharmaceutical industry and STM publishing (Chandos) by Hervé Basset, David Stuart and Denise Silber.
As a librarian in a large pharmaceutical company, Hervé Basset has a perspective both on drug manufacturers and consumers of scientific information. In this book he aims to explore the profound changes that are currently affecting science communication, and the impact that the life sciences industry is having on our society. He draws parallels between the worlds of 'big pharma' and 'big STM publishing', since both face radical challenges from internet enabled consumers, and both have reason to be wary of the risks posed by new ways of working and communicating. As Basset points out, the two worlds are closely intertwined: "pharma customers represent 20 per cent of big STM sales … Similarly, big pharma is strictly dependent on scientific publishing for the research process, for the update of researchers’ knowledge and for the publicity of their products."
The book opens with two chapters from David Stuart which aim to give a clear account of the successes and failures of the web 2.0 revolution and its promise for Science 2.0. The three dominant threads of web 2.0 – the web as platform, harnessing collective intelligence, and the importance of data – all have applications within the research process, but Stuart argues that the reality is that web 2.0 ideas and technology have not been universally embraced by the scientific community: "Whereas scientists may be more willing than commercial organisations to open up certain data, social media does not seem to have become as embedded in their working practices as it has for many others." Having said that, he foresees significant opportunities ahead: "Some of the most exciting discoveries of the twenty-first century will not be made by scientists at the laboratory bench, but by those who successfully manage to integrate the cloud, open data and citizen science."