We’re launching a new wiki experiment this afternoon, driven by staff at Nature Reviews Genetics.

The September ‘08 issue of NRG includes a new paper from ’’>bioinformatics hero Lincoln Stein, describing the “cyberinfrastructure” of databases, protocols and services that is becoming more and more necessary for life science research as large scale datasets become common.

We wanted the supplemental information for the paper (which lists different web services, databases, tools and initiatives) to be like a public database so that readers had the ability to add new information, revise out of date descriptions and remove broken links, so with Lincoln’s kind permission we put it up on a wiki. Anybody is welcome to contribute, please do check it out!

To ask questions or actually discuss the paper check out this thread on the Bioinformatics group at Nature Network.

Incidentally the paper is free as long as you’re logged on to – if you haven’t already registered you may want to do so on the wiki site itself here, as the default registration form is stupidly long.

OK, that was the press release bit.

If you’re a regular Nascent reader, though, the idea of throwing some data up onto a wiki may not seem particularly exciting. “Ah“, you may be thinking, “Whoop-de-doo, a wiki. What’s the big deal? Ever heard of OpenWetWare?“.

Yeah. This is an experiment for a whole bunch of reasons: to see if our workflow can handle it, to see if we could get a wiki platform up and running (for technical reasons we couldn’t use MediaWiki) and to see if there’s an audience for wikified content amongst readers.

We ran through lots of options at the beginning of this project: working with OpenWetWare or Nodalpoint (Jason gave us some advice early on), wikifying the entire article instead of just the supplemental info, wikifying a selection of articles instead of just Lincoln’s, ‘freezing’ then editing wikis once every couple of years to produce a collaborative review (edited professionally or by the original author, with major contributors listed as co-authors), giving each revision of the wiki a DOI so that it’s citable as it evolves, presenting two points of view on a particular topic as an interactive ‘debate’… those things are all still on the cards, but for now we’re keeping things simple. We’re taking things one step at a time.

Are wikified papers a good idea? What would make you as a scientist want to contribute?


Comments are closed.