NextGen VOICES: Results

We asked young scientists to answer this question:

Ideally, how will scientists share their results with each other and the public in 50 years?

In the 5 April 2013 issue, we ran excerpts from 16 of the many interesting responses we received. Below, you will find the full versions of those 16 essays (in the order they were printed) as well as the best (in alphabetical order) of the other submissions we received.

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Essays in print

February 12, 2063. Today I uploaded my manuscript to the reviewing system of the General Platform. I chose my subsection such that it will end up with the right reviewers. My supervisor recalls the days when you had to recommend your own reviewers. Nowadays, the reviewing system is much less biased, because reviewers are appointed automatically through their personal keywords, and every researcher (including a PhD like myself) appointed in an academic or research institute can be a reviewer. Luckily, manuscripts can’t get rejected anymore, but I wonder what remarks, suggestions and initial ratings my paper will receive and how much I will need to revise. What’s most exciting is whether after revision, my paper will be selected for a journal: From the General Platform, journals make weekly selections of new and important papers that best suit the interest of their subscribers. My paper is of high relevance to my field and I’m using new techniques so I hope it will be selected by a widely read journal (perhaps even Science). Maybe the journal will also publish an additional comment! Still, most important are the comments and ratings readers will give my paper, since even without journal selection, it will remain available on the General Platform. I like the rating system very much. As the ratings are given anonymously, papers are really graded for their worth, and I will get a good sense of what my paper contributes to the field. Well, let’s stop hoping and wait for the reviews!
Annelinde R. E. Vandenbroucke
Cognitive Neuroscience Group, Psychology Department, University of Amsterdam, 1018 XA, Amsterdam, North Holland, Netherlands.
E-mail: a.r.e.vandenbroucke{at}

In the next 50 years, I believe that breakthroughs in visualization of huge data sets will revolutionize the way science is communicated, making results much more accessible to scientists and the public alike. Genomics gives a perfect example of where visualization may be heading. In coming decades, I believe that laypeople will be able to upload personal genomic data (which will soon be easily affordable) onto a data-rich genome browser, which displays many levels of information in navigable format. The browser may, for example, present a three-dimensional view of a DNA helix, bundled onto histones and studded by proteins and polymerases, that may be uncoiled and queried by voice or touch. From any DNA region of interest, users will be able to toggle articles, blogs, and social media posts, as well as demographic, lifestyle, and disease-related histograms. Portions of the browser might light up to announce new scientific findings, with confidences of individual results noted via some standardized criteria. Software developers and scientists will provide various specialized viewer plugins that people can run as apps. All this will give the public unprecedented access and exposure to cutting edge science. Big data browsers will by no means be limited to genomics; we already see their prototypes in tools such as Google maps, which may soon support toggling and viewing of geological and climate data. These tools will fundamentally alter the way scientific findings are disseminated, and will go a long way toward improving trust and dialogue between scientists and nonscientists.
Matthew Oberhardt
Departments of Computer Science and Molecular Biology/Biotechnology, Tel Aviv University, Tel Aviv, 69978, Israel.
E-mail: mattoby{at}

Once scientific findings are submitted to "communication portals," machine intelligence will distill scientific results into "packets" relevant to every demographic–other scientists, informed citizens, teachers and students, and children. These packets will be made into annotated, high-definition, holographic, interactive multimedia presentations appropriate for each demographic. Specialized devices, equipment, methods, and procedures will be virtually simulated to create a tactile experience for the audience, especially for education and training. Successive publications get consolidated into a timeline of science communication, both at the individual scientist level and at the level of the larger area/field. Conferences for specialized and general audiences will bring people together but virtual participation will be the norm.
Anil Kumar Challa
Department of Genetics, University of Alabama Birmingham, Birmingham, AL 35294–0024, USA.
E-mail: anilkchalla{at}

Ideally as scientists we can hope for a greater scientific understanding by the general public as myths get replaced by facts. This should lead to a greater allocation of space in newspapers, television, Internet Webzines, and social media for science. With more knowledgeable discussion among the general public, an improvement in scientific research and funding would happen. In the future, access to research will hopefully be completely open access; thereby scientists can freely share their information among each other. Publications such as Nature, Science, and Cell would still be relevant, but I believe that the impact factor will no longer be as important as it currently is.
K. Christian Kemp
Center for Superfunctional Materials, Department of Chemistry, Pohang University of Science and Technology, Pohang, 790-784, Korea.
E-mail: ckemp{at}

It is unlikely that in 50 years' time, journal articles will be the main mode of scientific communication as they are today. It is also unlikely that scientific innovation, especially in high-demand areas such as economics and global health, will be a preserve of only the highly trained scientists. What is more likely is that science communication will be in some form of social media, most likely, personalized blog posts that are updated and edited by individuals, or highly targeted short message links that automatically seek out the right audience at the right time, like heat seeking missiles, to achieve highest impact. Scientific communication will be coming from both scientists and nonscientists and will most likely be communicated in what will at that time be considered popular language for the lay audience. Journal articles may continue to exist, but their role will primarily be to organize the material in volumes or related collections.
Fredros O. Okumu
Environmental Health and Ecological Sciences Thematic Group, Ifakara Health Institute, Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.

I think the scientific community is becoming too competitive; a vicious cycle of fund-publication-fund is in control of scientists' behavior, making them more of "businessmen." Ideally speaking, science should be openly accessed by fellow researchers and the public. Science is for everyone and not for someone to monopolize or control. Maybe a way to solve this dilemma would be creating a method by which data could be claimed by its generator. Researchers would not have to wait for the entire project to established with enough data generated (worthy of publication in a journal) to share their results (even negative ones). Experiments and their results could be posted one by one in a forum or database-like environment, with proper acknowledgement and enough protection for the respective researcher. In my opinion, research could be more dynamic this way. Groups working on similar projects could communicate, share thoughts, generate ideas, or even combine efforts, hence accelerating the project and the publication process. Everybody is a winner. The real essence of scientific research is captured and is tailored to the fact that in this day and age, the world has no boundaries.
Yasmine Mustafa Mohamed
Department of Biology, American University in Cairo, New Cairo, 11835, Egypt.
E-mail: y_mustafa{at}

The Internet is making the traditional research paper both irrelevant and problematic. Within the peer reviewer, an ironic tension has arisen between this newfound communication potential and the requirement to confine an endless pursuit of knowledge into discrete packages. This tension has led to a detrimental emphasis on the "story" attribute of science publication, unacceptable timing from submission to publication, increased length of low career levels, and an acknowledged crisis of an inaccurate literature. Perhaps science communication should completely abandon the research paper as we know it. Ideally, scientific communication would be a single, completely open, digi-pedia combined with a simple rating system and powerful search engine. Textbook-like, hierarchical organization of content would end with links to primary data of any type, topic forums, and tutorials, all unrestrictedly posted by the user. Articles, experimental techniques, primary data, researchers, and institutes would each be subjected to mass ratings by the reader. Users would query and subsequently sort by ratings at any of these levels. Points of contention would be quantified and used as an additional sorting factor to identify critical questions. Negative data would be communicated and confirmed. Ratings would act as guides for rewarding achievement in all aspects of the scientific process. Individual experiments, rather than being artificially clumped into "stories," would be posted continuously, reclaiming their status as the basic unit of science. The rating system would enforce truth and relevance as the primary motivators for scientific research, and the centralized resource would lead to improved understanding for all.
Scott Allen Lacadie
Berlin Institute for Medical Systems Biology, Max Delbrück Center for Molecular Medicine, 13092, Berlin, Germany.
E-mail:  Scott.Lacadie{at}

The ubiquity of smartphones, robotic assistants, and wearable sensors will usher in an era of Big Data never before seen: Scientific publications won't be written so much as aggregated from an unceasing supply of images, assays, raw numbers, and composite text edited with email-screening software. Once reports are "published" (physical printing will have mostly ceased, so this word sounds arcane), you'll be able to view an AutoCAD-like experimental layout using any heads-up display, perhaps projected onto your lab goggles. When you stare at an empty wall or table, a full experimental manifold will expand in front of you—outlines tracing equipment, animals, and reagents, showing experiments in real time. Tactile gloves will provide haptic feedback in real time; you'll "touch" and manipulate the objects you see. Dedicated media professionals will incorporate the best experimental animations into an annual movie, available for download at any public Sci-terminal. Digital awards, like today's Oscars or Emmys, will signify the high-quality research, driving tenure decisions and funding.
Michael A. Tarselli
Biomedisyn Corp, Woodbridge, CT 06525, USA.
E-mail: mtarselli{at}

Just as the methods of conducting scientific research have progressed throughout human history, so too have those of sharing our discoveries. We have progressed from public demonstrations to academic journals, and we have expanded our databases and publications to electronic mediums for instantaneous access. The distribution of scientific research has reached its pinnacle of availability, so how else can we progress the discourse of new knowledge? The answer lies not in the medium but rather in the audience. In 50 years, we can diversify our audience by refocusing our nations' education systems. We can integrate the current methods of sharing results into curricula of secondary schools and undergraduate programs. A doctorate is not necessary to comprehend the news articles in every issue of Science. However, researchers must take on an additional responsibility: They must orient their published results toward not only the knowledgeable but also the curious. They need not alter the technicality of their results; instead they can draft secondary articles focusing on the applications of their research. This benefits not only students but also scientists of different research backgrounds who wish to familiarize themselves with new discoveries across all scientific disciplines. Teachers and professors who keep their students up to date on current scientific developments will foster a sense of determination and purpose in the next generation of scientists. Within 50 years, several generations will have grown up surrounded by scientific innovation. The general population will finally constitute the majority of a scientist’s audience.
Vikas Aragam
College of Arts and Sciences, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA 19104, USA.

The modern-day emphasis on information exchange via the Internet will continue to grow stronger, with more members of our community participating in open forums or mentoring younger members of their fields remotely. This culture will hopefully promote collaboration and encourage sharing of resources and results–and especially of generally unpublished negative data, or unsuccessful research directions—in the spirit of open discourse. I also predict a rise in open-access journals and of collective, crowd-sourced protocol writing (à la Wikipedia) and data generation. As access to scientific information becomes increasingly freer, however, we scientists of the future will need to make our own voices heard, to cut through misunderstanding and mistrust by taking charge of our collective media presence. I therefore envision a future of scientists-as-communicators, and especially as writers. Not as technical writers, not as purveyors of convoluted, inadvisable, or overly simplistic sentence structures—these things we do already, in a disheartening departure from the delightfully well-written and prosaic journal articles of 50 years prior—but as true writers, as scientists who as easily construct an exquisite phrase as a well-planned experiment. Ideally, we will be a generation of savvy bloggers, social media personalities, passionate public speakers. We will do this out of interest, but also by necessity. The fate of research funding rests on our ability to communicate science topics widely and well, both to our peers and to the public. We cannot afford to let other people speak for us; we must be trained to speak for ourselves.
Erin E. Coffey
Department of Anatomy and Cell Biology, Neuroscience Graduate Group, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA 19104, USA.
E-mail: coffeye{at}

In 50 years, I expect scientific publications to be completely opened to the public, fee-free publishing and access. Open science would have come of age. I however expect the impact factor and discipline-specific system governing scientific and technical publications today to continue to exist for good reasons. One major change in science communication will be the widespread use of social media, video, and picture illustration of complicated scientific results. It will be a routine practice to prepare such material for the general public. Science illustrators and video artists will be permanent staff of all laboratories, the way we have technicians today. Science communication will reach an all-interactive phase since daily living activities in 50 years will be more driven by scientific data acquired from the "Internet of things" technologies. Every laboratory will have fan pages on social media platforms and scientists will share their insights on daily basis with the general public on current issues. I see, in 50 years, a situation where crowd funding of research is the main funding instrument that will reward scientists with stronger public engagement skills. According to Louis Pasteur, "science is for humanity and is the light that illuminates the world."
Patrick Kobina Arthur
Department of Biochemistry, Cell, and Molecular Biology, University of Ghana, Legon-Accra, Ghana.
E-mail: parthur{at}

Governments should buy all the major publication houses and release their information for free, while maintaining the journal structure at public expense. The costs would be trivial relative to the tax revenues captured from the growth spurred by the open access policy. I cannot think of a better way for the world's governments to spend a few billion dollars up front and several hundred million per year.
Chad Brick
Sumitomo Bakelite Corporation, Kobe, Japan.
E-mail: chad_brick{at}

To the public, scientists seem to share ideas without prejudice and their findings without restriction. This view is overly simplistic. In actuality, experiments take a great deal of time, effort, and money which steers scientists toward experiments that are at the very least, publishable. Research not only has to be scientifically bulletproof, but it must also be considered interesting. The two are not mutually inclusive. An uninteresting experiment or one that provides a negative result is doomed for rejection and relegated to a cloud of unpublished work. I believe that electronic publication, which we already greatly utilize, will continue to increase its influence over the next 50 years. With the electronic dissemination of research we can already share findings instantaneously and the practical limitations imposed on physically printed journals disappear. With this in mind I predict that as the full potential of truly unlimited online publishing becomes clear, we will see a greater number of publications that end in negative, unexpected, or less interesting results. From the perspective of students, who have limited time, the publication of experiments that they should avoid would be remarkable. For researchers with limited funds, it would be invaluable and to those organizations providing funds it would be of great commercial interest as it provides a means of ensuring they do not keep funding research that has already been carried out. I believe that a true revolution in the way we use the Internet to share research will greatly increase its functionality, variety, and depth.
Roddy Grieves
Centre for Cognitive and Neural Systems, University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, EH8 9JZ, UK.
E-mail: r.m.grieves{at}

Come and visit my lab! In the future, science will dictate policies. Governments will ask for scientific reports every time there is the need for a new law and at the same time, voters will have extended scientific knowledge and will make their daily-life decisions based on science’s latest findings. It will be common to have science breakthroughs in the first pages of newspapers with high circulation and people will discuss science hypotheses while queuing at the bus stop. How will science gain such importance in society? Because tomorrow's scientists, research institutes, and universities will open their lab doors to the general public, as well as to designated political and civil representatives, on a regular basis! A visit to a lab will be just like any other way of spending a free afternoon; to many, more interesting than a visit to a museum, time in the park, or even retail therapy. Labs will be the places to ask questions, to learn, and to share ideas. And together with the general public, scientists will also visit each other’s labs willing to discuss, to collaborate, and—don’t be surprised—to spy! So get ready to respond to the invitation "come and visit my lab" soon in the future.
Ana Neves-Costa
Cell Biology of the Immune System Unit, Institute of Molecular Medicine IMM, Lisboa, 1700-202, Portugal.
E-mail: ancosta{at}

Technology will push the bounds of science communication in the next half-century. We'll share our results via Star-Trek–like holodeck simulations: 3D interactive environments where we can walk through a molecule to see its structure, or traverse simulated forests to understand changes in biodiversity. These technologies will help the public understand science by making it real—they can feel the effects of increasing CO2 on their skin, rather than just staring at a graph of yearly temperature changes. But the core of science communication won't change; our ability to explain complicated concepts using regular language and our passion for scientific discovery can only be conveyed when we talk with someone face to face. Whether today or 50 years from now, communicating science with the public requires scientists to step out of our comfort zones and meet people where they are, at the coffee shops and pubs, with their skepticism and misconceptions. It requires us to show them how science matters in their lives, by not talking down to them, but rather truly engaging them in conversation. I think these crucial skills will be as important tomorrow as they are today.
Allison Coffin
Department of Integrative Physiology and Neuroscience, Washington State University, Vancouver, WA 98686, USA.
E-mail: allison.coffin{at}

I know it sounds crazy, but I'm going to go with brain Internet. Trying to read all the papers on, say, autism or brown dwarfs 50 years from now (or even today) will be impossible. Even with the help of well-crafted databases, you'd spend too much time manually prowling those databases for what is relevant (when you could be doing experiments), even with search engines. You want truly personalized structure, integration, and filters? You want it fast? Cut out the middle man. Get brain Internet. Individuals will each possess their own private brain Internet cache, and when a new experiment is performed, the cache will update. The way each update is processed will be unique to each individual, because plasticity—what is perceived as important enough to remodel dendrites thus linking past with present experiences—is unique. Plus, you can buy a special filter to keep from turning into a zombie.
Justin Jee
Sackler Institute of Graduate Biomedical Sciences, New York University, New York, NY 10016, USA.
E-mail: justin.jee{at}

Top Online Essays

Interactive, engaging, and exchanging science is what I see as the future of sharing scientific results. Social media and technology are opening up new worlds of communication and connection. It provides unique new ways for interacting despite distances, engaging a broader audience, and exchanging information. It will be vital for scientists to seek these new avenues of disseminating information for science and scientists to remain connected especially to the public but also each other. Citizen science projects are already apparent examples of these new ways of engaging and sharing science with the public. They are the first wave of the future of exchanging scientific information. A more engaged public will better understand science, its usefulness, and its applicability to help resolve many of the issues facing society today and those that will arise in the future.
Sarah Marie Anderson
School of Biological Sciences, Washington State University, Pullman, WA 99164, USA.
E-mail: sarah.anderson2{at}

I think the sharing of our results should be as it is now, through the publication in peer-reviewed articles. The difference I think will enhance this sharing is giving open access to all journals. In this way all the people will be able to read the scientific information as soon as the papers are published. This is because some universities (including mine) do not have access to all journals, and we have to go the nearest library to download the papers to read. One more thing I think will be essential is the publication (as supporting online information) of the negative results that are found during research, because if we know this information we will be able to integrate it and consider if such negative results are irrelevant or not to our future research projects.
Rigoberto Medina Andrés
Departamento de Bioquímica y Biología Molecular, Facultad de Ciencias, Universidad Autónoma del Estado de Morelos, Colonia Chamilpa, Cuernavaca, Morelos, 62209, México.
E-mail: medina-ar{at}

The core values of science, research, and development will never change. In coming 50 years, one can predict that there will be vast development in every aspects in science, especially information technology, electronics, and mass media. There will be a situation in the coming 50 years or so where scientists will gain access to the relevant research happening around the world in real time. The world will be competitive; results will be published and communicated with other scientists as fast as possible, possibly using online media such as the iPad and tablets. Most labs will have an advanced publishing/editing system to ensure fast delivery of results. To communicate with the general public, scientists will post their results as easily understandable videos or animations in media such as YouTube or as advertisements in between popular TV shows.
Rama Bangera
Department of Genetics and Breeding, NOFIMA, Tromsø, Norway.
E-mail: rama.bangera{at}

With the ubiquitous connectivity made available through the digital media, scientific communication is standing on the brink of a rapid metamorphosis. A clarion call for greater transparency and openness is already audible in the scientific world. Data sharing and publication of data sets are increasingly being encouraged by academicians. It might be expected that the next few decades would be decades of collaboration, with research groups opening up their (digital) laboratory notebooks for possible input from peers across spatial and temporal barriers. This would be significantly different from traditional collaboration in the sense that opening up lab notebooks can potentially crowd-source the efforts to any interested scientist/citizen scientist across the globe. This might be made possible through the synchronous and asynchronous connectivity offered by interactive social media platforms, blogs, and micro-blogs. It is also important to realize that this crowd intelligence can serve as an effective agent for post-publication peer review, the efficacy of which has been evidenced repeatedly in recent times. We are looking at a time when altmetrics would be as popularly used as citation metrics. While the purists will invariably argue (somewhat rightly) that there is a more than significant possibility of any proper scientific discourse being drowned in the terrible "noise" accompanying the crowd, we need to explore these options and devise ways of curating relevant content from the chatter. Intellectual property laws would also need to be adapted to changing times.
Tamoghna Biswas
West Bengal University of Health Sciences, Kolkata, WB, 700040, India.
E-mail: tamoghnab{at}

As scientists, we need to maximize the advantages of instantly sharing ideas while simultaneously preserving the integrity and reliability of the information released. In the next 50 years scientists will become fluent with the use of informal media networking sites, such as Twitter and Facebook, as a way to spark public interest. This will be especially crucial in nurturing youth's support for scientific developments in the future. The amount of public interest sparked by Curiosity during the past year is enough evidence to prove that using social media will be the optimal way to share scientific developments with the public. In order to promote more extensive collaboration, scientists will use universal databases for research ideas, experimental data, and graphics to decrease the number of extraneous experiments and enhance collaboration among colleagues. Scientists will be trained to hold virtual lab group meetings with large international networks and make use of instant messaging for the purposes of sharing images and live streaming of crucial experiments. However, regardless of what communication methods are prominent in 50 years, the formal scientific paper will still be the central prestigious publication method. The scientific paper preserves science's formalized disciplinary nature and will serve as a reminder of science's integrity as we transition into a world with instantaneous connections. In that same light, caution must be taken to prevent misinterpretation of results and manipulated data: We must preserve the beauty of scientific communication because effectively communicating is just as important as making the initial discovery.
Hannah Marie Bucklin
University of Pennsylvania, Manlius, NY 13104, USA.

Scientists will create a social network. This network will be divided into two parts: one for the public and the other for researchers. All kinds of virtual sources, video broadcasts for example, will be available to the users. Discoveries and information will be disclosed and discussed by the network users.
Augusto César Broilo Campos
Bairro Ipanema, Belo Horizonte, Minas Geras - MG, 30830-140, Brazil.
E-mail: augustocmps{at}

Science could only advance with sharing of knowledge. The way scientific output is shared should co-evolve with technological advancements, particularly the Web. Facilitated by more efficient sharing and reuse of data in Web 3.0 or beyond, all scientific publishing and conferencing are expected to be Web-based in 50 years. Not only does online publishing allow sharing of large data sets, such as those from next-generation sequencing studies, but it is also more efficient and green. Research materials in formats that are not readable in print could also be presented with ease. On the other hand, advanced Web-based virtual conferencing could break the physical and monetary barriers of researchers from distant or developing countries, facilitating potential collaborations that could never be possible without overcoming such barriers. Archives of such publications and conferences should be stored in an open-access, centralized and easy-to-search online database. A summary prepared in layman language should be provided for each entry so that scientists specialized in other disciplines and even layman could understand and appreciate the research findings. This bridges the gap between scientists and the public and could promote the image of scientists among the public. Web-based publishing and conferencing help overcome most of the barriers to sharing of scientific output, both among peers and with the public, and are expected to facilitate the advance of science.
Man Kit Cheung
School of Life Sciences, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong.
E-mail: mkcheung{at}

In the future, there would be more exposure of science to the nonscientists. Science would have a prominent presence in popular culture and mainstream media. As more people are being educated, scientific awareness would have spread to such an extent that we would find politicians having debates on scientific issues. Bankers would be having scientific chit-chat over coffee; people from entertainment industry would be using more scientific jargon. This is not uncommon as there is a spread of science fiction movies and sitcoms that show the lighter side of scientists and bring them closer to home. Such a mix of science and popular culture will have its effect on the scientific community too, as we will soon see scientists talking more to the media to bring their work closer to the common man. The scientific publications will also find their way into the common press with scientists using simpler terms to explain their work. There shall be more podcasts, open-source publications, free education for all through the Internet that will enable everybody to stay informed about the latest happenings in science. Henceforth, within the scientific community there would be a shift toward more interdisciplinary and trans-disciplinary studies, breaking the invisible barriers. Such a shift would be largely due to the changes people would experience in their day-to-day lives due to climate change, pollution, and limitation of resources bringing people closer to science, which would be the only source for solutions.
Vidhya Chittoor Viswanathan
Department of Water Resources and Drinking Water, University of Neuchatel, EAWAG - Swiss Federal Institute for Aquatic Science, Dübendorf, 8600, Switzerland.
E-mail: chittovi{at}

Free access and dissemination of information are imperative to the effective sharing of scientific results in the future. With the recent trends toward open-access journals, it is hopeful that the impediment of extravagant journal subscription costs will be a thing of the past in 50 years. This would allow anyone with a scientific background to access original research papers and form their own opinions and critiques regarding the research of others. With forms of online communication becoming more sophisticated, collaborations between international scientific groups should be encouraged. However, these advancements should not compromise the accuracy and integrity of scientific data—conferences and the procedures of peer-review will still be essential 50 years from now. The sharing of information with the general public will inevitably still require go-between journalists, science-communicators, or passionate scientists willing to write about their research and share their expertise. In particular, communication by scientists to the public needs to be encouraged. With science communication entered as a staple subject into undergraduate science curriculums, every graduating scientist and therefore every new academic appointment in 50 years would have the basic skills to share their expertise in a format that is accessible to the general public. In an ideal world, we would have bridged the gap between basic research and public understanding. With the aid of online communication, it is hopeful we will see much interesting, accurate, and well-written scientific data available at our fingertips in the future.
Jenna Mairead Christensen
School of Medicine, University of Sydney, Sydney, NSW 2006, Australia.
E-mail: jenna.christensen{at}

The publishers of academic works, like the movie, record, and mainstream book industries before them, will realize that their most profitable business model is based not on controlling access to others' work, but on building a community for those that create works to connect with those that want to read, watch, listen, or in the case of data, analyze, their work. In addition, the relative quality of the publication will no longer be based on where the article is published and the subjective opinion of a few experts, but by ranking algorithms such as those used by Google for searches, NetFlix for movies, or Yelp for businesses, which take into account multiple metrics from disparate sources such as number of times referenced by other articles, reviews from community members, and the community status of the each reviewer. These quality rankings could even be customized to each user during a search of the repository of works based on a self-defined, or algorithmic-defined, sub-community of other users, giving more weight to the opinion of those they trust. Instead of scientists hoping and praying that a journal will publish their work, they will be able to choose which community to belong to, and be provided tools to help them disseminate their work to more people in the manner in which they, not the publishers, dictate.
Patrick John Clemins
South Burlington, VT 05403, USA.
E-mail: patrick{at}

With the advancement of science and technology, information exchange becomes easier for everybody, especially with the development of innovative computers and smart phones. In the next 50 years, scientists will share their results through smart telephone pads with a top-of-the-line video camera or any high-tech gadget in less than few nanoseconds. Scientists can now see the full results without waiting for the whole document to load. Also, other scientists can now share their thoughts and insights directly with their colleagues without flying away from their laboratories. With these improvements, more scientific projects will be finished faster. Also, it will be easier to communicate and collaborate with other experts even if they are thousands of miles away from each other. There are a lot of good things coming from this idea but of course there are also some disadvantages from this ideal exchange of results. Some scientists can't see the actual experimentation which can invalidate the results. Also, abuse of this novel technology may trigger fraud or falsification of results. I just hope that in the near future, this novel approach in exchanging results will not be abused and will be maximized for the benefit of all scientific community.
Emmanuel Castillo Damian
Research and Biotechnology Division, St. Luke's College of Medicine, William H. Quasha Memorial, Quezon City, 1112, Philippines.
E-mail: damian_emman{at}

In the near future, scientists will publish in an open-access, electronic, and decentralized database. The underlying system will consist of a peer-to-peer system such as BitTorrent or Bitcoin. Servers will comprise both institutional and personal servers. Both technical and nontechnical articles will be published on this open publication network. The nature of the decentralized network, with multiple copies of each work, will assure that no valuable data is lost through either accident or malicious destruction of servers. Peer reviews will be done voluntarily either through random selection from a list of possible reviewers suggested by the authors or selected by field similarity. Statistics about number of downloads, number of citations, positive or negative votes, comments, and corrections suggested by readers will be incorporated into the profile of each article. In addition, articles will be revisable with the history available for download. Detailed author contributions will be stated in each paper. User uploads of translations to multiple languages of a paper will also be possible. Search engines will be modified to allow extended queries including formulas, images, chemical structures and other non-text information within the complete database. Authors and readers (users) will have password protected profiles and statistics of their own optionally publishable. Articles will be disseminated under the General Public License guaranteeing the freedom of information. This system will facilitate the distribution of scientific knowledge to all of humankind to encourage the necessary progress of civilization.
Pablo Martin De Biase
Department of Biological Sciences, University of Calgary, Calgary, AB T2N 1N4, Canada.
E-mail: pablodebiase{at}

Ideally, how will scientists share their results with each other and the public in 50 years? I will address this question using my imagination, which is more important than knowledge, as Einstein used to say. The format of written communications will probably remain similar, following an IMRD style, but more concise. The core of the story will happen in the first sentences, as audiences will become more impatient. Time to publication will decrease and the number of articles will increase. The access to literature will be open or inexpensive and citations will have a universal style. Most conferences and workshops will have an online format and will be shorter, increasing accessibility and attendance of meetings. Talks and posters will be uploaded in video format, permitting their access at any time and date. When sharing data with the media, scientists will develop effective communicating skills, as the general public will strongly rely on science for facing new ecological and health challenges. From a technological standpoint, 50 years into the future, undiscovered tools will change the way of communicating science in unexpected ways. If not, who of the young scientists in 1963 would have imagined how computers, the Internet, and Xerox machines changed their way of sharing science? In 2063 I will be in my late 80s and hope (naively?) to be alive and alert. At that time I will have the answer to the intriguing question addressed today. In the meantime, I just play with my imagination to the best of my knowledge.
Paula de Tezanos Pinto
Instituto de Ecologia Genetica y Evolucion, Facultad de Ciencias Exactas y Naturales, Universidad de Buenos Aires, CONICET, Ciudad Universitaria, Buenos Aires, C1428EHA, Argentina.
E-mail: paulatezanos{at}

Within the next 50 years, social media will likely come to replace television and print media as the main vector for communicating news, ideas, and information. For many, this shift has already taken place. This change provides the ideal opportunity to engage the wider community, and facilitate discussion within the scientific community. Within the next 50 years, interactive Internet journals may come to play a major role in how scientists communicate. Such active journals would allow scientific thought, which depends on interaction and the exchange of ideas, to flourish. These journals would provide scientists with immediate access to the latest ideas and discoveries of their colleagues, and allow them to respond to articles more rapidly and easily than ever before. More important, the merging of science and social media will bring science to the world of nonscientists. Few nonscientists understand how social and dynamic the sciences actually are. Interactive journals, which would be less expensive and easier to produce and access than print journals, would allow scientific articles to adopt a greater social media presence. Interesting new findings would spread through the public domain via Facebook, Twitter, or through whatever form of social media will dominate 50 years from now. This would lead more people to become informed and interested in scientific current events. Greater scientific awareness would inspire more young people to pursue careers in the sciences and lead more citizens to support public funding for research. Social media will bridge the worlds of scientists and nonscientists.
Melissa Dani Diamond
University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA 19104, USA.

No offense, Science, as you are a lovely magazine, but I think in 50 years you will be a thing of the past. And I think that is a good thing. As PhD researchers, we share our research at subject-specific conferences and perhaps publish an article or two, but of course to getting into the more widely-read journals requires doing some very clever research and possibly also a bit of luck! We write up a dissertation to be read by our PhD panel…and our parents, who will tell us they read it and that it was "interesting." I find it shocking the amount of money and time invested into research that ends up "lost," inaccessible to those outside of academia (i.e., most of the world). This status quo needs to be challenged and the mechanisms by which we share our results must be critically evaluated. In the future, I hope to see science communicated in ways that actively engages the public. I was part of a recent effort here in Ireland in which we used beermats to share interesting research about biodiversity*. I don’t have all the answers as to how to do this going forward, but I am certain it’s something we need to invest significant funding in–including in the dialogue a wide range of people, from designers to physicists, marketing specialists to zoologists. The use of innovative outreach efforts will have to be embraced for us to effectively combat the wall that currently divides academia and society. *Science published a Random Sample article on this in the 9 November issue.
Eileen Burke Diskin
Centre for the Environment, Trinity College Dublin, Dublin 2, Ireland.
E-mail: diskineb{at}

Electronic media is the way to go. Many researchers are already using Twitter, Facebook, and a variety of social media to share results. But the results are shared at the end of the process, once data has been collected and interpreted. In 50 years, we may reach a point where data and results are shared online only between scientists in real-time as they come out. This could allow researchers to publicize their thought-processes that lead to their interpretations before publication. This may however, vary according to field (e.g., with the social sciences at one end showing more data and clinical/ medical sciences at the other end sharing less), or between industry and academia where patent laws are of paramount concern. With new techniques emerging faster than ever, governmental policies will depend on as many scientists as possible interpreting the data thoroughly and efficiently. Sharing data and thought processes in real time ensures that conclusions can be rigorously monitored by the research community before publication, repeated as quickly and effectively as possible, and allows for interdisciplinary contributions to provide fresh perspective on the data. At its core, sharing results will become more based on social online media. Hard copies of journals and periodicals may become obsolete in favor of online versions, and there could be a dramatic increase in online forums.
Danae Rebecca Dodge
Sheffield, South Yorkshire, S6 2XN, UK.
E-mail: danae_hazel{at}

Academic research, funded with public money, should ideally be published in (peer-reviewed) open access media. It would be so nice to think that knowledge (in its primary meaning) is not something that should be sold, but something that scientists should share as a legacy to the world in order to solve as quickly as possible the problems that could generate the world wars of tomorrow (energy, food, etc...). Maybe a naive idea but dreams have always been the fuel of scientific explorers. For the answer concerning the public... It will depend on the degree of interest that science will generate at this time.
Morgan Donnard
CNRS (National Center for Scientific Research), University of Strasbourg, Illkirch Cedex, 67401, France.
E-mail: donnard{at}

The International Human Genome Sequencing Consortium, led by the National Human Genome Research Institute (NGHRI) and the Department of Energy (DOE) in the United States, completed the Human Genome Project on the 14th of April 2003. It took them nearly 12 and a half years and cost about $2.7 billion. Francis Collins, director of NHGRI and Aristides Patrinos and head of DOE, won the "rat race" against Dr. Craig J Venter from Celera Genomics, a private company, in order to finish the sequencing first. Since the state won, this "rat race" information is freely available to both scientists and the public worldwide. Should the private company have won, the knowledge would have been patented and access would have been limited and financially unaffordable to the public. Open access to scientific discoveries and data is imperative to the science community if it wishes to progress and evolve toward greater research usefulness. The past decade has proven to be a technological revolution considering that the Internet has significantly increased the availability of research articles worldwide which has further promoted universal collaboration. Scientists can now share results and discoveries online while residing in different countries. With large projects such as the Human Genome Project, which is impossible to publish, one needs large open access repositories to store the data. Open access ensures dissemination of information, and once published it can be challenged by other researchers in order to refine and improve research. Open access thus provides a sound foundation to advance scientific research. However, funding agencies play an integral part in this matter by obligating funded researchers to publicly share their findings. It is therefore believed that open access research ought to be the aim in 50 years' time if the scientific community wishes to engage in the most effective research practice.
Mariëtte Ferreira
Department of Genetics, University of Pretoria, Pretoria, Gauteng 2, South Africa.
E-mail: marietteferreira{at}

"I switched on my 3D holographic screen and selected the pertinent experiment from the large database to see the proper methodology I had to follow. I trailed each and every step the instructor demonstrated. Thanks to the technology I did not have to go through the tiring procedure of reading and rereading the manuals." Will it be possible in next 50 years? Most probably, yes. Advances would always be liberal, but the end result compared to now would be phenomenal in scientific communicating with public and with peers. When exchanging information with fellow scientists, information has to end up with the right person, sometimes without governments or cyber-criminals peeking. Scientific papers would be digital and electronic journals would play a huge role within next 50 years. In the future, scientific papers would be collected in large searchable databases according to their topics. Presentations might be holographic as well. Sharing scientific knowledge with the public would be effortless with future technologies such as augmented Web and augmented reality glasses and lenses. Smart phones will continue to escalate and with Kinect- and Wii-like technologies that the younger generation would find learning science entertaining and accessible. With the abundance of materials, apparently an individual will face difficulty in locating the relevant data. Therefore some technology would be found to bring attention to the appropriate facts. Imagining future scientific communication is fascinating and so would be experiencing it.
Ruwansha Samadarshi Galagedara
Faculty of Science, University of Colombo, Pannipitiya, Western, CO10230, Sri Lanka.
E-mail: ruwansha89{at}

Given that technology has rapidly improved many facets of communication and publication, scientific results should also scale with faster and more open sharing—a process already seen in open-source computer code. Science could shift away from formalized journal submissions toward a more flexible and open-ended structure analogous to online systems like Wikipedia or Quora, where results answer questions in a contextualized and trackable manner (via the number of site visits, comments, and edits by people in the field, embedded links to and contributions of other relevant content, etc.). Peer-review would thus take the form of continuous discussion, which in a way, better reflects the spirit of science. Parties interested in or studying a particular topic could submit protocols and results (major and minor findings, positive and negative outcomes), all of which could be sorted and aggregated in a user-friendly manner using novel technology. Summaries of the discussion (between a title and abstract in length, somewhat akin to the original character limit in Twitter posts,) could someday be automatically generated to connect aggregated results that advance human knowledge. In this way, the sharing of results hopefully becomes less about who is first, who is established, who is "right"; instead, the novelty or nature of the idea and the insight or corroboration provided by results become the scientific currency. Furthermore, an open forum nature will hopefully make science more collaborative and reproducible, or at the very least, address some of the competition and politics, which could trickle toward increased public engagement.
Louise R. Giam
Stanford Institute for Neuro-Innovation & Translational Neurosciences, Stanford University, Stanford, CA 94305, USA.
E-mail: giam{at}

Technology is advancing in a way to allow for instant access to information from anywhere in the world. Along with these advances comes the expectation that the information we seek will be there at our fingertips; we aren’t willing to wait or do a whole lot of searching around. This trend can easily be seen in today’s youth, who rely on information from Wikipedia or sources that provide free access to information quickly, using a simple search engine. In 50 years, I don’t imagine that this expectation will have changed and in order to provide trusted information based on scientific fact to the public and other scientists, we have to rethink the format in which information is shared but maintain the important process of peer review. As many scientific journals are now moving toward online-only delivery, and even free access, they, in a way, are leaders in what I believe will be the knowledge transfer of the future. Journals, in 50 years, would ideally be the next Facebook or Twitter, in other words, sources for information sharing that are fast, easy, and accessible by anyone and communicates to not only scientists but the public as well. Because we are a visually stimulated society, formats such as animated cartoons or videos that describe the information and is relatable would be very important to implement. My hope, however, is that it won’t take us 50 years, as the technology is already here, we just need to think outside of the box.
Michelle A. Gordy
Public Health Sciences, University of Alberta, Edmonton, AB T6G2G7, Canada.
E-mail: michelle.gordy{at}

50 years is a long period to predict, but I think some trends reveal themselves. First, I expect a move away from the scientific paper as the main means of communicating findings. Scientists need no longer be beholden to publishers, and contemporary technology already offers new and efficient ways of communicating for those brave enough to break away from traditional means. The success of the arXiv and the ease of informally communicating and discussing ideas via blogs and Twitter hint at potential new avenues to share information and ideas. I envisage a move toward cataloguing research via comprehensive wikis, supported by networks of microcitations. Scientists have been surprisingly poor at adopting such approaches, but they will enable work to be disseminated and discussed in real-time without lengthy publication delays. As for communicating with the public, I think we already see the development of a coherent lobby that seeks to better address this goal. Pressure is being placed on news outlets to improve the quality of their science coverage, and on governments to include more scientists and evidence-based practice in decision making. Researchers are increasingly being asked to provide details of public engagement activities in their grant proposals. I would like to see engagement with the public become less of an afterthought, and to encourage dialogue about the practical benefits of research at the planning stage. Such an approach might help to ensure that research funding is directed at those projects most likely to produce social and economic benefits.
Nick Groves-Kirkby
Wellcome Trust Centre for Human Genetics, University of Oxford, Oxford, Oxfordshire, OX3 7BN, UK.
E-mail: nickgk{at}

Very often I imagine a time when all the research articles will be published on a database like PubMed and they will be graded according to their quality. Readers will be able to grade an article, provide a review, and express their opinion about it. There will be no Journal, no big business associated with it, and no politics. Then you won't have to "know" the editor to get published. There will be an international editorial body that will send the submitted articles to the peer reviewers. The whole process will be completed electronically online. The articles will be classified according to key words and areas of research. The number of times an article has been cited will be displayed right with the article summary. All the articles will be freely available online. Publication costs will be very low as there will be no print version. There will be a system of prompting the researchers whenever a new article is published under a particular set of key words (PubMed has that kind of thing now, but it needs to more comprehensive).
Abdul Haseeb
NEOMED, Rootstown, OH 44272, USA.

50 years from now, scientific articles will first be published chiefly online and linked in a single central database, containing subdomains organized by discipline. These initial drafts will be open to criticism from their scientific peers and will be available for purchase by scientific magazines to run in print. After articles have received ample positive response, they will be forwarded to publishers of traditional literature and more mainstream Web sites, whose duty it will be to phrase scientific results in a way that is both informative and accessible, granting the public easy access to quality scientific research.
Allison Danielle Herzig
University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA 19104, USA.
E-mail: aherzig{at}

Science is a cumulative process, a work in progress always. Modern science is performed together in a collaborative way at global level. There are several brilliant projects where successful collaboration and data sharing was achieved—e.g., the Human Genome Project, ENCODE project, and Large Hadron Collider project. This progress was then used to generate beneficial development for the society. Recent advances in various technologies have created huge amount of data. In next few years cloud computing should be the way of sharing huge amount of data. More and more tools should be generated, which should be made publicly available so that anybody and everybody can integrate his/her own research with the global data generated elsewhere. In the future, all the published papers should have a comments section below so that anybody can put his/her comments online. It can also include giving ratings and credibility to the work. In the future, individual laboratory notebooks should be replaced with the e-notebooks. Once the manuscript is accepted, authors should be asked to put the material online. It will create more transparency for repeating the experiments. In ideal world, we should be able to share every individual result with the scientific community (with corrective measures). If somebody finds these results interesting and correct, that person should be able to use it (for publication) and give the necessary credit to the individual who has generated the data in first place. I hope in next 50 years we will reach that kind of conducive environment.
Krishanpal Karmodiya
Center of Excellence in Epigenetics, Indian Institute of Science Education and Research, Pune, Maharashtra, 411021, India.
E-mail: krish{at}

Current debates about open access to scientific results suggest that the way scientists make their results available will undergo a paradigm shift from subscription-based journals toward immediate open publication. This trend is facilitated by widespread availability of Internet connection. Future technological developments will likely lead to an even more ubiquitous system, perhaps satellite-based, making it possible to access the Internet or something like that anytime from any place on the planet. People will become even more used to access any information they want instantly leading to a speedy end of traditional journals. Sharing results among scientists will be open and immediate by posting papers on large servers connected with sophisticated database systems. Although peer review will probably continue to exist, it will change to open post-publication peer review, so that published papers may be continually updated based on suggestions and comments from others. Publishing full data sets, computer code, etc., along with the papers will become commonplace. These changes will lead to faster and more efficient communication, which will accelerate the pace of science. Sharing scientific results with the public may be done through articles on science news sites and videos posted online. I assume that it will follow current trends in communicating science to the public with rather modest changes, unlike communication among scientist, which is now based on an unsustainable conservative model destined to fail in the world where the Internet has revolutionized the way people communicate.
Jan Klecka
Laboratory of Theoretical Ecology, Biology Centre of the Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic, v.v.i., Institute of Entomology, Ceske Budejovice, Czech Republic.
E-mail: kleckj01{at}

Science wouldn't be science if we couldn't communicate its results, and we hope that the changes that we are already experiencing will only deepen in the future. Regarding how scientists communicate with each other, two exciting developments are emerging: a shift from a journal-based system to one where each field stores its papers electronically and accesses them freely (e.g., arXiv), and an increasing role of interdisciplinarity, which will eventually reflect on conferences and workshops. We believe that these will continue but hopefully become more interdisciplinary, encouraging the formation of a common language and shared assumptions across disciplines. Interesting changes are also taking place in the way results are shared with the rest of society. In the past, the prevalent way of conveying scientific ideas was through science sections in massive media. Nowadays, scientists are beginning to prioritize communicating directly with the public (e.g., TED talks). More important, our generation has shown an increased involvement in outreach activities. For example, the department of one of the authors organizes events where high school students interact with researchers through talks and introductory experiments. In the lab of the second author, PhD students visit primary schools to lead reading groups and participate as judges in science contests. We hope that, together with the development of these kinds of activities, the next 50 years in scientific communication will see more involvement between scientists and the rest of society, an increase in interdisciplinarity and a shift toward new ways of storing and sharing information.
Maria Sol Lago
Department of Linguistics, University of Maryland, College Park, MD 20742, USA.
E-mail: sollago{at}

Ana Zelzman
University of Buenos Aires

Although with the development of the communication technology, researchers increasingly rely on modern technology, such as the Internet and even smart phones, to communicate and share their ideas, I hold that academic conferences are indispensable. Academic conferences were the most essential form for scientists to share results in the past, and so it is today and will be in the future, no matter how cyber technology can bring us closer. Scientists share more details when they attend a conference. The development of technology will allow scientists to get together faster and more easily but still face to face. History has proven that people can get to a destination faster and more easily from the jumping-off point by taking ships, steam boats, and then airplanes. I believe that future vehicles will provide scientists with more chances to share their ideas face to face.
Hao Jing Lei
The Institute of Crustal Dynamics of China Earthquake Administration, Beijing, Beijing, 100085, China.
E-mail: skatetangshan{at}

Actually, the future of scientific publication looks promising: The use of Internet has broken through the barriers of space, and now, it's available everywhere; and the number of potential great scientists keeps increasing around the world. If this phenomenon continues, in 50 years, the access to day-to-day scientific knowledge will be well spread in society, and open the way to new ideas that lead to new investigation in all fields. Every human being has the right to information and knowledge; to promote and respect this right, the access to scientific publication should be more open.
Juan Carlos López-Tavera
Universidad Autónoma de Guadalajara, Providencia, Guadalajara, Jalisco, 44670, México.
E-mail: dr.jcarloslt{at}

Like the "Human Genome Project," in the future, we had better establish a free online scientific system called "the Open Scientists Project," which is freely registered and available for all the scientists in the world. Any scientist around the world can upload their results and associated materials like primary design of their experiments, how they failed at the first several steps of their research, some important photos which are not shown in their papers, etc. As a result, anybody in the world can download all these valuable resources. A scientist can find out what is going on about inflammation, and the public can also find out how genetically modified food can make a difference in daily life. Of course, we can also have a column called "Global Project Management" on our Web site, which tells people which project is going on, and how the people around the globe can make contributions to it. This is especially important when nowadays there are so few prominent international projects because we are limited by geography, but actually science should be boundless. To conclude, to better communicate with each other, scientists had better make their research more transparent, not merely the result, but also when it begins.
Hongxing Luo
School of Basic Medical Sciences, Lanzhou University, Chengguan District, Lanzhou, Gansu, 730000, China.
E-mail: 1519782837{at}

With the unstoppable extinction of journal printed issues, information technologies will play an increasing key role for the transfer of research results. The main scientific achievements might be presented to the broad public by means of a novel generation of social networks integrated in the interactive global mass-media, to be known as Next Generation Internet. However, the data sharing between the research community, especially in certain disciplines such as genomics or astrophysics, will need to store massive data sets—the Big Data—ideally located close to supercomputers connected to each other by high-speed optical networks. I think not only IT, but also open-access publishing would be fundamental for the science of the future.
Pedro Madrigal
Laboratory of Biometry and Bioinformatics, Institute of Plant Genetics, Polish Academy of Sciences, Poznan, 60-479, Poland.
E-mail: pmad{at}

There is no doubt that we are living in a digital age wherein information and communication technologies play a critical role in global economic development. Not long ago the way of acquiring information was to visit the library building. Today's young generation no longer use the traditional way of searching for information. They have digital libraries in their palms. Moreover, the Internet is changing the craft of information sharing and science communication to the public and is connecting scientists all over the world. The Internet has become a critical, quick, and convenient way of sharing information and scientific results. The information is not only disseminated through online journals and books, but also through digital tools such as blogs, chat rooms, forums, search engines, and mailing lists. In addition, social networks have become the number one activity on the Web and their subscriptions are growing tremendously. They are used to advertise scientific meetings, conferences, discussion groups, scientific breaking news, and research findings, interact with other scientists worldwide, and find experts and contacts. It is noteworthy that social networks accelerate the dissemination of information. Digital resources provide a global access to fundamental scientific results unlike the traditional communication channels. It is envisaged that in the next 50 years the digital resource tools will be the dominant sources of information and scientific results dissemination. With tremendous growth in computing power and portable devices technology development, scientific information and results will be accessed anywhere and anytime.
Rapela Regina Maphanga
Materials Modelling Centre, University of Limpopo, Sovenga, Limpopo, 727, South Africa.
E-mail: maphangarr{at}

I would like to see a system of open, online, peer review and publication, where any postgraduate with a validated institutional email address could upload their manuscript to a central database, leave comments and ratings on other scientists' papers, and respond to comments made on their papers by others, all under their own name. Voluntary moderators could be used in place of editors to weed out spam or inappropriate comments, while permission to submit one's own paper could be contingent upon supplying a review of another scientist's paper in your field. Papers could be ranked by their average ratings, popularity and/or controversy within a discipline, somewhat like the popular Web site Reddit. Opening up peer review to all scientists and making each one's contribution openly identifiable might ameliorate some of the problems currently associated with peer review, including bias, time limitations, or inexperience on the part of individual reviewers.
Michelle Moram
Department of Materials, Imperial College London, London, SW7 2AZ, UK.
E-mail: m.moram{at}

Ideally, in 50 years' time scientists will share their results in a brutally honest fashion, both with the public and amongst scientists. Regardless of the mode of communication, for a half-truth online is the same as a half-truth on paper, our approach to the dissemination of results must change. Honesty and openness should come first and above all in our communications. This may be argued to already be case, but the evidence is accumulating that it is not. Ideally, we as scientists should acknowledge our ignorance not only among each other but with the public and in our own papers. We do not. We should publish imperfect results because such results are inescapable in scientific practice. We do not. This is not to say we should not strive for precision and accuracy but we as scientists must decide: do we value honest work with unknowns, even unknowns that may contradict our findings or do we value perfect papers that may be perfect only through the exclusion/tampering of our results. Ideally this type of communication will happen in less than 50 years. To begin, the reason I answered to such a survey is for the possibility of publication—a token of scientific success.
Joshua Miles Nicholson
Department of Biological Sciences, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Blacksburg, VA 24060, USA.
E-mail: jmn{at}

The use of Internet will be crucial for this new wave of sharing scientific information. Findings and discoveries will start being shared in real time, as some scientists are doing on Youtube, blogs, and social networks, despite intense criticism of academia. People will become more and more pragmatic about the work done by scientists and the novelty and applicability will become more relevant. The current journals will need to change a lot to follow up this new movement, but maybe this is a new opportunity to find a more dynamic and fair way to provide information to the general public, who actually pays for most of the research done in universities and research centers. The peer review process will need to become more open and transparent to avoid the ongoing and intense quarrels over intellectual property and fraud in science.
João Mendes Oliveira
Department of Neuropsychiatry, Federal University of Pernambuco, Recife, Pernambuco, 50810-000, Brazil.
E-mail: joao.ricardo{at}

I believe that the way scientists nowadays share their results will not significantly change in the future, because all the relevant information one needs can be readily and quickly obtained through well-organized scientific journals, Internet portals, or academic conferences. But I do think that the results of their work will become more accessible to the public through various means like public conferences, where the everybody will be free to attend any presentation that piques his interest, live Internet video streaming, where you can catch the latest news of the scientific world or maybe even through general word of mouth once science begins to present facts in a way that can appeal even to those people who are not well trained in that particular field of study. Because right now, many achievements in most fields go unnoticed simply because it is difficult to see the impact that particular discovery could have on the future of science or everyday life.
Martin Pačesa
Faculty of Science, Masaryk University, NCBR, Brno, 62500, Czech Republic.
E-mail: martin.pacesa{at}

With advancing data storage and transfer innovations, researchers are increasingly giving way to easy dissemination of research findings. Minimalistic approaches and green crusades to go paperless have paved way to increasing online editions leaving hard copy articles mainly for library catalogues and department collections. Exchange of scientific knowhow is moving from desktop to laptops to handheld devices. Social media approaches catering to the scientific community make this dissemination and knowledge sharing among peer groups easier. The entire mode of accessibility quotient of science knowledge will move to more shared platforms where even high school students can access it. The advent of small quick research communications will pave way for blockbuster five-page detailed research articles. Smaller communications with targeted and explicit to-the-point articles will emerge. People in general and kids in particular have increasingly reduced attention spans, so the best approach to draw them to science would be short highlighted research communications in a social media–based peer group, electronic hand-held format.
Kingshuk Poddar
Nanoscience and Nanotechnology initiative, National University of Singapore, Singapore, 117581, Singapore.
E-mail: kingshukpoddar{at}

Scientists will communicate their results on three different levels in next 50 years. First, they will be sharing their data within their research group and collaborators (between groups) in a central online secure storage to which all of them will have access. It will have all the records of accesses, changes made, and analyses done. The team (graduate students, postdocs, research associates, professors, and collaborators) will use this to simultaneously analyze, process, and discuss the outcome variables from scratch (i.e., raw data). Then they will finally shape how to bring this into publication. Second, the publication (sharing with fellow scientists around the world) will undergo a major metamorphosis in next 50 years. The background, discussion, and conclusions will be shorter; results will be the focal point and they will be refined, dynamic, and detailed. Methods will either be taken by separate journals and cited or be detailed and supplemented. Surely, many results including peer review changes will be posted online. Most of the journals will be online only and open access. More important, the publication will be interactive and open (including review processes and post-publication stages). The chances of duplication of work and scooping of the data will be rare as it will be mostly open and rapid publication. Third, funding sources, journals, and scientists will work together to draft the public version of their work. It will be an abridged, simplified, and implicative version posted simultaneously with publication. This will be accessible by all.
Matiram Pun
Mountain Medicine and High Altitude Physiology, University of Calgary, Calgary, AB T2N 4N1, Canada.
E-mail: mpun{at}

Through cerebral waves, each person will be equipped with nano-emitters/receivers. Each result will be accompanied by a short but meaningful visualization. Each emitter/receiver will be powered by person's bio-currents. The emitter will first send his/her thoughts to a server while the potential receiving person will contact this server freely or by subscription. As it's difficult to transmit your signal too far, due to weak emitter power, we will use our future's "phones" or similar devices to get connected to the Internet and find the server we're looking for. In fact this kind of communication can be used for many other purposes... One big challenge will be to respect privacy but also to avoid over-use of this system.
Aurelian Nicolae Roman
Department of Geography, "Alexandru Ioan Cuza" Iasi, Iasi, 700505, Romania.
E-mail: naeroman{at}

The results are open to the community with free access. It is essential to be translated immediately to important languages such as Chinese, Hindi, Spanish, Bengali, Arabic, Portuguese, and Indonesian (those with increasing populations of young people). Diversity of replies and feedback is critical to validate research findings from multiple perspectives and disciplines.
Sdenka Zobeida Salas-Pilco
University of Hong Kong, Pokfulam, Hong Kong, Hong Kong SAR.
E-mail: sdenkasp{at}

One of the important challenges for the development of science communication concerns the current problems with the under-exposure of null results. I suggest that each article published in a top scientific journal can get tagged (online) with attempts to replicate. As such, a future reader of an article will also be able to see whether replications have been attempted and how these turned out. Editors and/or reviewers decide whether a replication is of sound quality. The authors of the main article have the option to review the replication and can provide a supplementary comment with each attempt that is added. After 5 or 10 years, and provided enough attempts to replicate, the authors of the main article get the opportunity to discuss/review their original study in light of the outcomes of the replications. This approach has two important strengths: 1) The approach would provide researchers with the opportunity to show that they deliver scientifically thorough work, but sometimes just fail to replicate the result that others have reported. This can be especially valuable for the career opportunities of promising young researchers; 2) perhaps even more important, the visibility of replications provides an important incentive for researchers to publish findings only if they are sure that their effects are reliable (and thereby reduce the influence of "experimenter degrees of freedom" or even outright fraud). The proposed approach will stimulate researchers to look beyond the point of publication of their studies.
Matthias Johannes Sjerps
Department of Psychology of Language, Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics, Nijmegen, 6525 XD, Netherlands.
E-mail: m.j.sjerps{at}

Everyone with data will post their manuscript, complete with introduction, methods, results, discussion, and references on the Web site for their topic. All manuscripts posted there will be reviewed and rated by any registered users. Registered users can also review other user's reviews. There are clear guides for reviewing papers and reviews. After 6 months, 12 months, 24 months, 5 years, 10 years, and 20 years the paper is ranked for its usefulness. The ranking is determined by how high the reviewers rated the paper, with each of their ratings being multiplied by how other users rate the reviewers. (User 1 gives paper a 10. User 1 is rated by other reviewers as a 2 = 20 points for the paper.) "Useful" has several categories: Methods used may be useful, insight provided by the data found may be useful, or an innovative reasoning that leads to a new approach, new combination of fields of study may be useful. Readers of the "X Topic Web page" can choose to read the 6-month journal or the 20-year journal. Students are encouraged to read only the papers that have stood the test of time, 5 years and more, whereas experts in the topic will be more likely to read the newer papers. Reviewers get increases in rating as well if they correctly predict which papers stand the test of time. Every 6 months the hottest papers can be printed. There can be ads and everyone is happy. Users pay to have the best of the past x months emailed to them, for nicer formatting/no ads, or for a nice collection of the "Most innovative" or "Best Methods" papers.
Melanie Stegman
Department of Learning Technologies, Federation of American Scientists, Washington, DC 20036, USA.
E-mail: mstegman{at}

In-print publishing will go the way of the dinosaurs. The latest papers will delivered to your bifold, full-color E-Ink iSheet (tablets will be passé by then) or beamed right to your Google Glasses for constant on-the-go access. With ease, you can ask the built-in computerized assistant to find "Sukhdeo et al., Science, 2024" and retrieve all 10 papers. In a radical departure from today's practices, methods sections will be unlimited in length and contain step-by-step instructions. For figures, submitting a "representative field" will no longer be sufficient. Authors will send their histological slides for automated scanning by a third party and the entire image will be stored online. The authors will suggest fields, but reviewers and readers will be able to pan around the entire slide for examination. This functionality will be incorporated into the publication, as images in figures will be interactive rather than static. The concept of a journal's impact factor will become antiquated. Each article's citations, longevity, immediacy, and downloads will be computed individually for a more representative metric of its impact. *Note: All of the above are currently possible with technology available; I was being conservative in my estimations.
Kumar Sukhdeo
Department of Stem Cell Biology and Regenerative Medicine, Cleveland Clinic, Cleveland, OH 44106, USA.
E-mail: sukhdeo{at}

What follows is more than just a pure guess. The change in format of data communication is inevitable. There is already a huge shift in the format of data acquisition making a data deluge in the future rather more certain. The change in the lab structure that I can foresee will be more in the direction of big consortia (e.g., Large Hadron Collider, Human Genome Project) than individual labs, more quantitative data acquisition than qualitative one, more personalized medicine than generalized and so on. To keep up with demands and challenges, the order of the day will, therefore, be to change the format of scientific communication from papers to computers, from bar chart to movies, pathways to networks and so on. New visualization methods, even those that seem nearly impossible to envision, will be required, and will likely be developed. Biological data deluge will demand, and will precede and guide the development of, new statistical methods. The process of peer review in scientific journalism may also evolve with a changed format to meet new challenges. Public forums may emerge where the scientific discoveries (in the form of data) will be available to all. The level of scientific details will increase, and the challenges will be to present science in a format comprehensible to all.
Ubaid Ullah
Turku Centre for Biotechnology, University of Turku, Turku, 20520, Finland.
E-mail: uullah{at}

Science communication will migrate toward electronic-only systems. On one hand, there will be disciplines moving into even more diverse subsets, and electronic methods for grouping these. Most likely, Governments will eventually eliminate private journals, and articles will be grouped as above. This may or may not be problematic, as it places all control of research focus and information dissemination in the hands of the government. In the case of agencies, such as CIA influence, this means biasing toward corporate-owned large conglomerates. On the other hand, this can also effectively be done through the government indirectly through control of those elected, and may eventually lead to large amounts of information kept from public view or access. A main drawback will be electronic media is easily wiped out and lost, for example by a solar flare. This will be achieved through public propaganda based on the belief the government has the best interest of the people in mind. A few journals, mostly due to prestige or historical reasons will remain, and a focus will be on science. The electronic media however may foster the equivalent of "Zines" for areas such as history and art, which would be small-group based, even at the university level. All of this is already starting to occur, and all we will see is a loss of what is termed old. Ideally, universities could peer review their own work, or associated research institutions public or private, and publish them online and in hard copy for the specific universities libraries.
Stephan Lloyd Watkins
Department of Allergology and Immunology, University of Bern, Bern, 3011 CH, Switzerland.
E-mail: stephan.lloyd{at}

Ideally scientists should have the power to share important finds with the public via press conferences and through publicly distributed journals. Networks should be set up dedicated to scientific news and documentaries that will allow the public an easy portal into the scientific community. Scientists should also take a more public position when it comes to social media. Lead Scientists, like film and music stars, should be able to answer intriguing questions from the public at their own discretion, via tools such as Twitter in order to foster a more open and informative relationship between the general public and the scientific community.
Ian David Way
Missisauga, ON L5N2K9, Canada.
E-mail: ian.way407{at}

Through solid partnerships with trained professional communications experts. I'm certain the way we consume information will change within the next 50 years, but I'm less concerned about the medium than I am the useful sharing of information with the general public. I'd like to see researchers partner with communicators as a condition of grants. I'd especially like to see the term "dumbing down" disappear, as bringing information to an appropriate general audience level doesn't have to be viewed in this manner. As many a dance-your-thesis contest has proven, you can communicate complex ideas in a simple manner. We used to call it "teaching."
Morgan Woroner
Washington, DC 20037, USA.
E-mail: morganworner{at}

Considering that even for scientists, it is sometimes not easy to understand original papers outside their particular field of expertise, I have no doubts that scientific journals have a high-entry level for the non-scientific-oriented population. Clearly, the public cannot access this information first-hand. Currently, they rely on the mass media to predigest and to portray it in a non-threatening and engaging way. Unfortunately, it is not rare to read that scientific correlations are magnified to the level of causation. Or that the focus is toward subjects that are more accessible or popular in detriment of others. One solution might be that scientists could take the initiative to bring the information directly to the public. Although promising, this solution has also problems as they could fall into the trap of magnifying the significance of their discoveries or they could lack the ability to describe their results in a faithful and clear manner. There is a third part that cannot be overlooked: the public. They play an important role. They cannot passively absorb what the media decides is important; they should actively seek the best outlets for scientific information. Only by closing the gap between science, journalism, and the public could a positive feedback loop be created allowing scientists to become better communicators, journalists to bring more accurate content from a wider scientific scope, and the public to enhance its scientific literacy. Hopefully, this positive feedback loop could lead the way to bring science even closer to the public in the future.
Homare Yamahachi
Kavli Institute for Systems Neuroscience and Centre for Neural Computation, Medical Technical Research Centre, Norwegian University of Science and Technology, Trondheim, 7030, Norway.
E-mail: homare.yamahachi{at}

We are living in an era of advanced technology from which many blessings arise, among which is the rapid communication enabled by the World Wide Web, at low or no cost at all to many end-users. Since English is the de facto universal language of science, to maximize communication of important findings, all governments will need to raise their English language-teaching standards from the first grade to graduate schools, and even for academic promotions. Secondly, the efforts that encourage communication and interaction across the globe should be supported and made more public through Internet so that people would turn more to science and health news to improve their quality of life. I strongly believe that we should make a better use of Internet to advertise science journals and news in every corner in Internet and shared social Web sites. The public should better know that it is not necessary to have high-tech instruments to do science to motivate youth in the beginning of their careers. As a person trained in the United States, published in top-ranked journals and then returned to a newly established university, I proved that it is possible to continue science and publish outstanding articles in peer-reviewed research journals. Finally, computer scientists, communication specialists, and biological researchers must collaborate more often to present complex scientific issues in a more simplified manner to lay audiences for analysis so that a dynamic interaction, happiness, and peace may be established in every part of the society across the globe.
Azmi Yerlikaya
Department of Biology, Art and Science Faculty, Dumlupınar University, Kütahya, 43100, Turkey.
E-mail: ayerlikaya{at}

In the next 50 years, scientists will share their results with each other in exactly the same way as results are shared now and were shared 50 years ago: through publication in journals and other typical media that confer scientific information. A dramatic change, however, will occur, and it will involve how scientists share results with the public. There are scientific breakthroughs every day, and thus everyday surges of new scientific discoveries are published and made available. It is the public that lacks the motivation and curiosity to engage with the plethora of information. Although science has recently taken a larger spot in the public's interests, there still exists lethargy in the public's part to become informed of the many scientific developments of today. All will change. Whether by introducing children to science earlier and thus preserving their curiosity for the unknown or by improving higher levels of science education, in 50 years, the public and the scientists will share a common attitude toward science: a desire to see advancements that will lead to an ever greater understanding of the world in which we live.
Neil Zhao
Fresh Meadows, NY 11365, USA.
E-mail: neilzhao{at}