"Journals seem noticeably less important than 10 years ago."

As ScienceOnline2012 gets underway later this week, the New York Times is running an article about open science: “Cracking open the scientific process”. The article spends many paragraphs promoting a social networking startup for scientists called ResearchGate, which honestly strikes me as having a not-very-useful approach to openness. For example:

Dr. Rajiv Gupta, a radiology instructor who supervised Dr. Madisch at Harvard and was one of ResearchGates first investors, called it a great site for serious research and research collaboration, adding that he hoped it would never be contaminated with pop culture and chit-chat.

I doubt that a walled garden where scientists share their reprints is the wave of the future. The “answering questions” aspect of the site seems similar to the Faculty of 1000 and similar concepts. Such sites aim to make social sharing into a virtue for scientists by credentialing them. On the other hand, if a social network for science can succeed in filtering out politics, that might be worth paying for.

There are many other things in the article. One thing that shocked me: The open access fee for Nature Communications is really $5000. Holy cow. For $5000 I could pay someone to sit in a coffee shop all day and hand-type the contents of my article into personalized e-mails to everyone who reads it. What the heck is that about?