O'Really?

October 31, 2008

Defrosting the Digital Library

Bibliographic Tools for the Next Generation Web

Sunset Ice Sculptures by Mark K.We started writing this paper [1] over a year ago, so it’s great to see it finally published today. Here is the abstract:

“Many scientists now manage the bulk of their bibliographic information electronically, thereby organizing their publications and citation material from digital libraries. However, a library has been described as “thought in cold storage,” and unfortunately many digital libraries can be cold, impersonal, isolated, and inaccessible places. In this Review, we discuss the current chilly state of digital libraries for the computational biologist, including PubMed, IEEE Xplore, the ACM digital library, ISI Web of Knowledge, Scopus, Citeseer, arXiv, DBLP, and Google Scholar. We illustrate the current process of using these libraries with a typical workflow, and highlight problems with managing data and metadata using URIs. We then examine a range of new applications such as Zotero, Mendeley, Mekentosj Papers, MyNCBI, CiteULike, Connotea, and HubMed that exploit the Web to make these digital libraries more personal, sociable, integrated, and accessible places. We conclude with how these applications may begin to help achieve a digital defrost, and discuss some of the issues that will help or hinder this in terms of making libraries on the Web warmer places in the future, becoming resources that are considerably more useful to both humans and machines.”

Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research CouncilThanks to Kevin Emamy, Richard Cameron, Martin Flack, and Ian Mulvany for answering questions on the CiteULike and Connotea mailing lists; and Greg Tyrelle for ongoing discussion about metadata and the semantic Web nodalpoint.org. Also thanks to Timo Hannay and Tim O’Reilly for an invitation to scifoo, where some of the issues described in this publication were discussed. Last but not least, thanks to Douglas Kell and Steve Pettifer for helping me write it and the BBSRC for funding it (grant code BB/E004431/1 REFINE project). We hope it is a useful review, and that you enjoy reading it as much as we enjoyed writing it.

References

  1. Duncan Hull, Steve Pettifer and Douglas B. Kell (2008). Defrosting the digital library: Bibliographic tools for the next generation web. PLoS Computational Biology, 4(10):e1000204+. DOI:10.1371/journal.pcbi.1000204, pmid:18974831, pmcid:2568856, citeulike:3467077
  2. Also mentioned (in no particular order) by NCESS, Wowter, Twine, Stephen Abram, Rod Page, Digital Koans, Twitter, Bora Zivkovic, Digg, reddit, Library Intelligencer, OpenHelix, Delicious, friendfeed, Dr. Shock, GribbleLab, Nature Blogs, Ben Good, Rafael Sidi, Scholarship 2.0, Subio, up2date, SecondBrain, Hubmed, BusinessExchange, CiteGeist, Connotea and Google

[Sunrise Ice Sculptures picture from Mark K.]

June 20, 2008

A Brief Review of RefWorks

Philosophiæ Naturalis Principia MathematicaThere is no shortage of bibliographic management tools out there, which ultimately aim to save your time managing the papers and books in your personal library. I’ve just been to a demo and sales pitch for one of them, a tool called RefWorks. Refworks claims to be “an online research management, writing and collaboration tool — designed to help researchers easily gather, manage, store and share all types of information, as well as generate citations and bibliographies”. It looks like a pretty good tool, similar to the likes of EndNote but with more web-based features that are common with Citeulike and Connotea. Here are some ultra-brief notes. RefWorks in five minutes, the good, the bad and the ugly.

The Good…

Refworks finer features

  • Refworks is web based, you can use it from any computer with an internet connection, without having to install any software. Platform independent, Mac, Windows, Linux, Blackberry, iPhone, Woteva. This feature is becoming increasingly common, see Martin Fenner’s Online reference managers, not quite there yet article at Nature Network.
  • Share selected references and bibliographies on the Web via RefShare
  • It imports and exports all the things you would expect, Endnote (definitely), XML, Feeds (RSS), flat files, BibTeX (check?), RIS (check?) and several others via the screenscraping tool RefGrab-It
  • Interfaces with PubMed and Scopus (and many other databases) closely, e.g. you can search these directly from your RefWorks library. You can also export from Scopus to Refworks…
  • Not part of the Reed-Elsevier global empire (yet), currently part of ProQuest, based in California.
  • Free 30 day trial is available
  • Just like EndNote, it can be closely integrated with Microsoft Word, to cite-while-you-write

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April 4, 2008

myScience: “social software” for scientists

myExperimentWith apologies to Jonathan Swift:

“Great sites have little sites upon their back to bite ’em
And little sites have lesser sites, and so ad infinitum…”

So what happened was, Carole Goble asked on the myExperiment mailing list, “is there a list of scientist social networking sites”? Here is first attempt at such a list (not comprehensive), you’ll have to decide for yourself which are the great, greater, little and lesser sites.
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December 12, 2006

Buggotea: Redundant Links in Connotea

IMGP4570Dear Santa, all I want for Christmas* is a better version of Connotea, please can you sort out it’s duplicated redundant links? In my book this particular bug is “buggotea” number one. Here is the problem… [update: buggotea is partially fixed, see comments from Ian Mulvany at the nodalpoint link in the references below]

There is this handy bioinformatics web application called Connotea which I like to use, built by those nice people in the web team at Nature Publishing Group. Most readers of nodalpoint probably already know about it, but because you’re Santa and you’ve been busy lately, let me explain. Connotea can help scientists (not just bioinformaticians) to organise and share their bibliographic references, whilst discovering what other people with similar interests are reading. It’s good, but it has some bugs in it. Since it’s open-source software, anyone with the time, inclination and skills can get hold of the connotea source code and improve it. There is, however, one particularly nasty redundancy bug in Connotea that is bugging me [1]. I think it should be fixable, and that doing so would make Connotea a significantly better application than it already is. Let’s illustrate this bug with a little story…

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