As a doctoral candidate, I toted my classical guitar from the University of Arizona to Cordoba, Spain – my impromptu guide a 28-year-old gypsy named "El Pele" with a battered guitar and an arresting voice seasoned by cigarettes and the sherry he drank at the neighborhood tavern. It was there that I did the research for my dissertation on flamenco music, hauling back a suitcase full of books to help me describe what I had experienced.
There was no Internet back then, and only years later could I google "El Pele" to find that he had become a star in the realm of flamenco puro.
Since then, I've watched the world of research evolve at an ever-accelerating pace, as a music professor, as a journalist and, for the past five years, as an editor for internal communications at Elsevier.
To help employees understand our broad efforts to support scientific and medical research, I've had the opportunity to interview Elsevier colleagues who are scientists, medical practitioners and researchers themselves. They know the power of discovery and the less-than-glamorous tasks that make it possible – like finding the cheapest lab to buy knockout mice, or trying to get funding for research that is more theoretical than "practical." They understand the complexities of research assessment and how the quality of their work can be reduced to a decimal point. They help us understand what makes "smart content" smart, what makes medical research "evidence-based," and why chemists want to search content for chemical structures, not just keywords.
My colleagues stay current by discussing issues like these with people throughout the research community: the authors, editors and reviewers of our journals and books; the professionals who use our tools and content; researchers and research administrators; faculty and graduate students; and the librarians who purchase the content and can show these professionals how to make the most of it.
Ironically, as the universe of information expands, so do the challenges of our work. We're expected to do more in less time. And while there are tools and systems to help us find the information we need, it takes time to check them out. Should we subscribe to a new "information solution" or is there an app that will do the job? How much time will it take me to change the way I work? What are my colleagues doing, and how did they get the funding to do it?
Elsevier Connect is a place to share this knowledge. The content will come from members of the research community as well as my colleagues at Elsevier. There will be articles about new trends in research; tips on how to get published and how to get that elusive grant; guest columns; a chance to read – and write – about innovative products in your field; and a behind-the-scenes look at the different kinds of work we're doing at Elsevier.
We'll also examine the way the industry is changing. Technology is transforming the way researchers conduct research and the way publishers disseminate it. Even the science itself can be controversial, with debates raging on about issues like embryonic stem cell research, the causes of climate change and access to health care. Elsevier Connect will provide a lens to the complex and ever-evolving worlds of science and publishing.
Our launch features the following articles:
- With the peer review system under pressure, Elsevier is trying out a variety of initiatives to make the process more efficient and appealing.
- Peter Thrower, PhD, Editor-in-Chief of Carbon, writes about why the majority of papers are rejected before they even get to the peer review process.
- Sir Kelvin Davies, PhD, the Editor-in-Chief of Free Radical Biology & Medicine who was recently knighted by France, writes about a pilot that's making it easier for authors to prepare their papers for submission.
- Research administrators weigh in on the recent report by the Research Universities Futures Consortium and what they are doing to overcome critical challenges that affect their research programs.
- Librarians talk about their experience with Innovation Explorers, a virtual community for product development.
- Tom Reller, VP of Global Corporate Relations for Elsevier, writes his first Corporate News & Commentary post.
We plan to update content regularly. If you have ideas for articles, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.