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The Directed evolution library construction Wiki Review

5 October 2007 2 Comments

I and a few others have been working for some time on converting a review I wrote some time ago for publication on OpenWetWare. Jason Kelly put the initial work in in developing an area for reviews and it was from him that I had the idea of taking this forward.

The traditional review is a cornerstone of the research literature. The first port of call for virtually any researcher on moving into an unfamiliar area is to find a good review. These vary vastly in length, specificity, and usefulness. The one thing that all traditional reviews have in common is that they are out of date as soon as they are printed.

On the other hand collaborative tools on the web make it straightforward to update and maintain, or even correct the text of a review. This is an area where community support can provide real added value in generating a useful and useable resource that can be maintained. By placing a review within the framework of a Wiki it would be possible for regular updates, and links to the current literature to be made available and for an open discussion of differences of opinion to take place. Unlike e-notebooks there are less technical and user interface issues to be worked out. This really ought to be an easy win.

There are many details that remain to be worked out. Should these be moderated, who can be trusted to maintain them, and more practically how can the regular maintainance of such reviews be guaranteed. On OpenWetWare anyone with an account can edit and anyone can view. The best practise for maintaining these reviews remains to be worked. The first step is to get a community of people involved in doing this.

So the review is now in a reasonable state, and certainly more up to date than it was. Any comments are welcome, either here, or on the review itself. We are also starting to write a paper on the review which we hope to get published. I think this is necessary so as to provide a pointer from the traditional literature to the review. As it happens the review is one of the top hits on Google but this is not where people go to find literature. It doesn’t appear on a Google Scholar search (that top hit is the original review) and is obviously not on PubMed or WOK. Whether we can get the paper published remains to be seen. Time to start emailing journal editors…