Networking Scientific Literature

April 11th, 2008
There\’s a LOLcat for everything these days…

I don’t know about you, but I always start my day off with a bowl of knowledge from the Journal of Cereal Science with a healthy splash from the International Dairy Journal. But damn, it’s hard to keep up with advances in breakfast science, I mean DIAMOND SHREDDIES!?

That being said, I rarely have time to sift through journal RSS feeds and papers I can’t understand to actually find the gems. Wouldn’t it be great if you could get a computer algorithm to recommend you scientific literature tailored to your interests and skill level? What if you took it one step further, wouldn’t it be nice if you could get a computer to recommend you an interesting paper to write?

If you’ve ever been to Amazon, you’d know that algorithms are always at work tracking your incriminating purchases. This is pretty easy for Amazon, especially when you have keyworded items to purchase and review which are all on one site. Online scientific literature should be no exception. When you download a paper, or comment on it, blog about it, or cite/bookmark it, you should be building a unique profile.

But the current model of scientific publishing is closed-access, people are having a hard time. While it’s easy to index papers based on name, authors, and abstract, building a significant body of published literature is basically impossible. Although, research is being done.

Personally, I can’t wait until the subscription-based model of scientific publishing is finally abolished. Then scientists, journalists, policy-makers, and laymen of all nations could join hands and finally get down to business.

But finding cool papers is just the tip of the iceberg. With an open access model we’ll also be able to use algorithms to extract new and exciting conclusions from pools of existing data, find emerging fields of research, and publish fuzzy journals based on clustering algorithms (PDF) of relevant research.

It’s not out of our reach either, we have the technology! This post was inspired by a paper, published almost 20 years ago, Medical literature as a potential source of new knowledge, which was recently posted on Michael Nielsen’s blog.

The long and short of it: science, I’m talking to you, get up to speed, because it’s the 21st century!

Posted by Chris Filed in General
2 Responses to “Networking Scientific Literature”
David Crotty Says:
April 11th, 2008 at 4:08 pm
What about something like GoPubMed:

I wonder if one could tap into their subject taxonomy and set up an alerting system.

Chris Says:
April 11th, 2008 at 5:12 pm
GoPubMed looks like a step in the right direction. I like the idea of GO and MeSH as ways of organizing papers but it’s still only searching the abstracts.

GoArxiv might be a more interesting endeavor…

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