bioRxiv: The Preprint Server for Biology: In a time of instant information, many scientists wonder why the publishing process still functions at such a glacial pace, with the time between submission and publication of articles sometimes taking half a year or more. bioRxiv (pronounced “bio-archive”), a preprint server for biology published by Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, seeks to remedy this situation by posting preprints of studies. While these papers will not be peer-reviewed, and it will therefore be up to the reader to judge their validity, proponents of the new system argue that it could be a support to the slower peer-reviewed process as it will at least allow scientists to examine one another’s results quickly. The site is easily searchable by subject area, date, author, keyword, and title. Equally easy and straightforward is the submission process for those interested in adding to the archive.
eLife: This highly thought of open access journal promises a speed and ease of publishing unheard of in most traditional life science journals. Initial decisions on a manuscript are usually made within days. Post-review decisions are made within weeks. Most articles only go through a single round of revisions. For the reader, this means that the results you’re reading are hot off the lab bench. Best of all, unlike most scientific journals, which can cost upwards of $20 for a single article, the 842 (and counting) articles on this site are completely free. The eLIFE podcast is also available for easy download, online listening, or subscription.
Encyclopedia of Earth: Biodiversity: The Encyclopedia of Earth, a project by the National Council for Science and the Environment, was launched in 2006 as a “free, fully searchable online resource on the Earth, its natural environments, and their interaction with society.” Over 1,400 scholars from around the world have contributed to the site to make it one of the most reliable sources for environmental and policy information on the web. This link to the Biodiversity section of the Encyclopedia opens a small universe of insights into the diversity of life on our planet. Featured Articles are forefront on the site, with topics such as Coral Reefs, Crustacea, or Habitat Fragmentation. Each category opens to dozens of loosely related articles. The Recently Updated section is another great place to start for those daunted by the variety of conceivable subjects related to biodiversity.
Long Term Ecological Research Network: Established in 1980 and funded primarily by the National Science Foundation (NSF), The Long Term Ecological Research Network (LTER) is committed to providing “scientific expertise, research platforms, and long-term datasets necessary to document and analyze environmental change.” The site is arranged for four broad types of users: Researchers, Educators & Students, Media Professionals, and Decision Makers. Information for researchers includes a link to the LTER data portal (a separate site, https://portal.lternet.edu/nis/home.jsp) and instructions on how to write a data plan for an NSF grant. Similarly, the Educators & Students area links to the LTER Education Digital Library, also a separate site (http://educationlibrary.lternet.edu/ ), with a searchable collection of lesson plans. Press releases make up the majority of the Media Professionals section, while the area for decision makers is populated with LTER Key Research Findings. These are presented as short reports with citations and are designed to be easily built into the talking points of a public presentation.