Self-archiving downstream

From: Peter Macinnis <macinnis_at_OZEMAIL.COM.AU>
Date: Sun, 3 Jun 2001 15:13:47 +1000

I wish to raise a slightly different angle -- I am one of the downstream
bottom feeders, a science writer, whose business it is to try to read as
much as possible of the bleeding-edge, and then to try to interpret it for
a lay audience. My aim is to underline new developments, how they arise,
and what they may mean.

I have been at this sort of thing a long time, and I can manage to make
sense of perhaps half to three quarters of what I read in "Science" and
"Nature", and rather more in a few more specialised areas, but a lot of
stuff goes through to the keeper without anybody reacting to it. My
concern is that there almost needs to be a lower level of interpretation
and archiving going on.

I suspect that there would be quite a few biologists who have no clear
notion of what a cytokine is, for example -- but there would be many more
teachers of science who have no idea what a cytokine is, and a far greater
number of students in that position. Thomas Kuhn argued that
undergraduates did not read the original literature, a third of a century
or more back -- how much worse is the position now, and what difference
will self-archiving make in the future?

My science-teacher wife has a recent textbook on her shelf that refers to
Zinjanthropus, a name that ceased to have any application other than
historical in 1965: it seems to me that the information-poor are among us,
in all our schools. Is it possible to enrich them?

peter macinnis
Received on Wed Jan 03 2001 - 19:17:43 GMT

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