Elsevier’s experimental articles

Elsevier has announced an experimental project to design the scientific “article of the future”. There are currently two prototypes which our sister company is inviting comment on from the scientific community here and here and from my standpoint these look like pretty good attempts to update the scientific article formula. I particularly like the way that each of the constituent parts of the article – abstract, text, results, figures, references, authors etc, are given their own tabs and treatment relevant to their particular information needs – the analysis of the references struck me as a particularly useful fusion.

However, not everyone has so far been overly impressed with the efforts. Paul Carville, writing on the Online Journalism Blog, is particularly underwhelmed. He has a detailed critique which looks at things such as design, information architecture and innovation, and he is less that glowing:

I think this area of publishing is indeed long overdue a complete overhaul of its staid online publishing practices, and any move to define a new specification for doing so should be welcomed. Even the otherwise impressive nature.com only goes so far in its presentation of research papers, and there is much room for improvement. But when the result is as underwhelming, cumbersome and shortsighted as this, I despair.

As Paul says the reinvention of the scientific article is long overdue, so I look forward to seeing what else emerges in the coming months.

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