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Why I love ScienceOpen Search (and you should too!)

Image credit: Stephan Ohlsen_365 days 062 ropes _Flickr_CC BY NC SA
Image credit: Stephan Ohlsen_365 days 062 ropes _Flickr_CC BY NC SA

I want to share with you something cool that we have developed at ScienceOpen.

In my former life, as an editor working for a traditional scientific publisher, I had a broad overview of my subject area, but my level of expertise was not close to that of a practicing researcher working in the field. Every day I needed to answer questions like “Who is the most influential researcher in niche area X?”; “How does our recently published work stack up against similar articles Y?”; “Are people talking more about topic A or B?”.

Editors are not alone with these pressing questions. Everyone who searches for information in a field beyond their immediate expertise faces similar problems. In an Elsevier study 87% of researchers reported cross-disciplinary searching in new fields at least once a month.

So what was my solution at the time? Back then, in our small publishing house, a subscription to privately held scholarly databases that could run to ten or twenty thousand dollars, was just out of the question. We could make an educated guess; but knowledge is always preferable to guessing. So, we ended up taking the subway across town to use the major databases that were only available at the library. In those days, I would have done anything for a freely available open citation network that could tell me the top cited papers and authors across all publishers, recommend related articles, and show what topics are getting the most traction in the popular media.

What did I have to do to get my freely available open citation network? Together with the ScienceOpen Team WE BUILT ONE!! This tool is so awesome that I constantly have to stop myself from accosting strangers on the subway to tell them how much easier we just made their search experience. “Forget about the library,” in case they are on their way to access Web of Science or Scopus, “you can search from your home, office, or right now on your smart phone!”

So how does it work? ScienceOpen already covers over 10 million articles and is growing fast. Type in your search term and filter your results in a myriad of ways. Only articles published in the last two years? Easy. Only Open Access? Check. Even while using these criteria, a search for “Diabetes” brings back 13,053 results. Dilemma. What to read? Sort your results by “Cited by count”. The citation numbers don’t claim to be comprehensive, but they do provide an accurate picture of the relationships between citations on the site. And already, it’s made it easier for me to get a quick overview of what the community finds most important. I can also start asking questions like: why are some papers with an Altmetric score of over 500 cited 20 times, and other papers with an Altmetric score of 3 cited hundreds of times?

When I pick a paper to explore more deeply, ScienceOpen offers me the list of the paper references – sorted by citation number, a list of cited authors linked to their other publications in the network, and similar articles based on keywords and title. I can play with this tool all day. But if I need to find a reviewer, a collaborator, an author, an expert, then I am already well on my way. No more long subway rides to access privately held scholarly databases.

Try out this new ScienceOpen feature and tell a friend (but maybe not a stranger on the subway!).

Feel like giving us your feedback, take our survey or just get in touch with me at stephanie.dawson@scienceopen.com or @SDawsonBerlin on twitter.

Happy searching!