bims: 2020 statement

This is the second state of bims statement (sobs). Sobs come out every 30 of January. They commemorate the first sober meeting between Gavin and Thomas on 30th January 2017. This statement contains a part by Gavin and a part by Thomas.

Gavin writes:

The last year has seen some positives and disappointments for bims. Our main goals for the past year have been to recruit more selectors (bimsers) and also obtain funding to support the expansion of bims. We have recruited 11 bimsers from the United Kingdom, Germany, Sweden, Canada, USA, and Russia. Part of our goal to recruit more bimsers has been to increase awareness of bims itself. I am by no means a marketing expert so this has been a slow process but I’m having to think in ways I have not thought before. Thomas and myself have been selected for a few programs to highlight bims. In March bims News became part of the Re:imagine Review registry—a registry of platforms and experiments to reimagine peer review run by ASAPBio. In the past few weeks I was selected to be part of the eLife Innovators program for 2020 to develop bims with input from others in the area of scholarly communication. During my travels this year I have managed to meet up with a some of our bimsers. In April I met with Christian Frezza in Cambridge, in September with Viktor Korolchuk and in November with Ralitsa Madsen in London and Cristina Munoz-Pinedo in Manchester. It is always a pleasure to meet with our bimsers and get their insights face to face and thank them for their precious time. In two presentations at Keele University and the University of Sao Paulo I was able to talk about bims. Our most fruitful outlet is on Twitter. Christian’s report (bims-camemi) regularly attracts close to 50 likes each week with all other tweets of reports also getting attention. This has been one of the main ways I have been able to recruit new bimsers. However, the number of new bimsers is a concern. Many people express an interest but the submission of information for a report does not materialise. We believe that our current bimsers are likely to be the best advocates for bims. They are first-hand users who do not have a vested interest as those running it behind the scenes.

Thomas writes:

Last year my temporary job took too much time to do work on bims. And I lost a month on being sick. In fact I can’t report a single technological breakthrough I made during the year. At the start of the year, I had time to do some refactoring. The result is a more streamlined code base. I guess I was pretty careful so nobody really noticed, but most libraries have some changes. As the year progressed I had less and less time to do even some refactoring. I just kept things running. Fortunately the system is fairly stable.

Since the start of the year, I don’t have that job any more. I have to finish some contract work that I could not do for pressures of my old job. That should keep me out of trouble until March. Now I have no labour income. But I am much freer to work on bims. In fact I will not actively look for another job for the moment. But I may be too desperate to refuse a job offer should one come along. I will continue to look for funding to work on bims.

In some ways, last year was the year of my first bims funding success. I was invited to the eLife Innovation Sprint 2019. The organisers selected people who want to “help drive forward research communication”. eLife paid for my travel ($509) and three nights hotel. This was a first time that a bims-related activity got actual money. Unfortunately, I could not find anybody interested in collaborating us. I could not even recruit a single bimser. As a result, I came back depressed in early September. I only got better in mid-October when we opened two new reports. On December 4, Jun made my day on 4 December when he paid for me to attend a meeting the New York Academy of Science. The entry fee he paid for me was the first direct subsidy that we ever received. He was then the spectator of my hapless effort to recruit bimser from fellow attendees.

In general, we need to think about an exit scenario. We will definitely keep running in 2020 and 2021. But if we don’t reach, say 100 reports come 2022, and continue to get no financial or regular material support we need to think about closure. Before that time comes, I will try to rewrite the entire backend to try to improve the machine learning performance. That may take me longer than three years from now, depending on what other things I have to do to stay afloat. I will not look for an unrelated job, but if one comes along, I may take it.

Both write:

We think you for your time and commitment to using bims. Without your contribution bims would not be what it is. If you have any ideas for us please let us know.