Bloggers for peer-reviewed research reporting, or BPR3, was conceived by scientists and others who write informally about research on the Internet as a simple way to denote that a blog post or website article is discussing peer-reviewed work. Their mission statement: “Bloggers for Peer-Reviewed Research Reporting strives to identify serious academic blog posts about peer-reviewed research by offering an icon and an aggregation site where others can look to find the best academic blogging on the Net.”
As well as creating an icon for bloggers to denote when their posts concern peer-reviewed research, the organization will host a central web site where snippets from these posts will be displayed, with links back to the original posts. Readers will be able to choose topics of interest and view only those posts, if they wish.
Eventually, the intention is that bloggers will be able to enter a DOI (digital object identifier) or other unique identifier, and automatically generate code to post the icon, link to the post to the BPR3 site and its aggregation tools, and generate a properly formatted research citation which links to the original article.
Now, the first stage is complete — the icons have been created (with a lot of helpful input from large numbers of science bloggers). They must be popular, as the site from which people can collect their code has been down for a couple of days due to excessive traffic, presumably. However, it is now up and viewable, so if you want to pick up an icon for your own blog, or just find out more details of the project, please visit this posting. From this post (29 October): “Anyone can use these icons to show when they’re making a serious post about peer-reviewed research, rather than just linking to a news article or press release. Within a month, these blog posts will also be aggregated here, so everyone can go to one place to locate the most serious, thoughtful analysis and commentary on the web.”
Inevitably, given the engagingly self-referential and gossipy nature of blogging, release of these icons attracted a lot of comment and discussion in the blogosphere. Dave Munger, the driving force behind BPR3, has collected links to all these articles into one post here.
Perhaps in some of this discussion, this question has been addressed already, but as I am afraid I do not have time to read all of the 26 (so far) articles, I raise it here. The icon seems to me an excellent way to indicate that the subject of a blog post is a peer-reviewed research article (so long as there is a mechanism to report abuse and remove the icon from posts that use it incorrectly). And the intentions of BPR3 in providing links to the original research article being discussed are admirable. However, these indicators in themselves do not seem to me necessarily to be an indicator of quality of the blog post itself. On a blog, anyone can write anything about anything, whether or not the topic under discussion is peer-reviewed. A lot of traffic to, or comments on, a blog post is not in itself an indicator of quality. (It could, indeed, be the opposite.)
After the blog posts are themselves linked to the original research article, it will be possible for them to be formally cited, making them eligible for aggregation into citation databases. Blog posts that enter the mainstream scientific debate in this sense would have a quality indicator associated with the post itself rather than the research they describe. Is this the intention?