During the last two months, readers of The Scientist have nominated 60 life science laboratory web sites for the monthly magazine’s ‘Laboratory and Video Web Site Awards’. A group of judges have evaluated the nominated sites according to four criteria (design, usability, content and community) and shortlisted 10 of them. And now it’s the readers’ turn, again — to vote for the best site. Read more here.

It’s like parliamentary elections. I will vote, of course. Some sites are quite good, others turn me off. But even more interesting — from a humanities scholar’s point of view — is the voting and award event itself, because it reflects something pretty fundamental about what is going on in the world of biomed/biotech/life sciences these days, viz., the race for web visibility and the competition for recognition among scientists and labs.

Visibility on PubMed is apparently not enough any more to guarantee labs a net flow of grant money. Of course, a steady output of peer-reviewed papers in high-impact journals is still a basic prerequisite for funding — but on top of that you seem to need to a strong web presence as well.

So The Scientist‘s lab site award is not just a parlour game or beauty contest. It indicates that web presence is about to become a sine qua non in the world of biomedicine and biotech too. Do astrophysicists need web presence?

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