Community-Based Tools in Science

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"An online revolution is changing the way we think about obtaining information. By facilitating interaction between users in an online community, new tools harness the collective wisdom of their participants to identify and critically review information.

Community-based tools have the potential to revolutionize access to scientific information but, like all tools, are not without their limitations. First, the information obtained by community tools is subject to the biases of the users generating the information. As a result, we must continue to critically evaluate the information received from these tools. Fortunately, community members often, through civil discourse or amendments, provide checks on bad or incorrect information coming from other members, minimizing these types of problems. Second, these tools are not designed to replace conventional search engines. We should be clear that search engines provide a great utility to the scientific community and certainly have their place in research, especially when probing a new subject for ideas." (


a reference management and social bookmarking tool such as Connotea

search for community members with a particular knowledge set: SIPHS

identifying comments made on life science blogs that are pertinent to particular journal papers: Postgenomic

utilizing a community of experts to curate database information, such as the Neurospora Crassa Community Annotation Project


Author of the above review are:

Thomas J. Sharpton is a co-founder of SIPHS LLC, and is a Ph.D. candidate in microbiology at University of California Berkeley, Berkeley, California, United States. E-mail: [email protected]. Arpan A. Jhaveri is a co-founder of SIPHS LLC, and holds a master's degree in computer science from Boston University, Boston, Massachusetts, United States