Scientific Publishing and Developer APIs

Rafael Sidi loves to quote Bob Dylan’s song ‘The times they are a-changing”… Certainly in the scientific publishing developer APIs world.

For years there were APIs available from the scientific abstracts databases Scopus, WoS, PubMed, etc.

Last year Elsevier launched SciVerse Application Marketplace that provides developers APIs (Application Programming Interface) to build applications that will integrate into the SciVerse suite of products (ScienceDirect, Scopus, Hub). Some examples –

  • SciverNote:  allows you to save ScienceDirect article abstracts and/or references to Evernote®
  • Top Reviews:  find the most relevant review articles in your Scopus search results
  • iSpeech Audio Reader: This one is pretty cool – reads your ScienceDirect articles aloud
Check out the current Applications Gallery.
You may also want to check out what Nature will be launching soon. This appears to be limited to Search APIs, scientific bookmarking tool (Connotea) APIs, and the social networking site (Nature Network) APIs. There’s a nice presentation (embedded below) put together by Chandran Honour that lays out the api landscape in scientific publishing (Oct 25, 2011)
PLoS has already announced their APIs for search and Article Metrics earlier this year. Springer has announced APIs to their Images database, APIs to the metadata for their journal/book content and API to query their OpenAccess content.
There are probably several that I haven’t mentioned here.
These are exciting times and it will be interesting to see if some understanding develops across publishers to standardize APIs. In the end the goal is to enable researchers to create solutions that are specific to their needs and hopefully help advance scientific research.
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The future belongs to the companies and people that turn data into products

Are you looking at your hidden assets, how usage of your data creates new data? Are you mining it and creating newer products? This post speaks to all of us. It also talks about

The future belongs to the companies who figure out how to collect and use data successfully. Google, Amazon, Facebook, and LinkedIn have all tapped into their datastreams and made that the core of their success. They were the vanguard, but newer companies like bit.ly are following their path. Whether it’s mining your personal biology, building maps from the shared experience of millions of travellers, or studying the URLs that people pass to others, the next generation of successful businesses will be built around data. The part of Hal Varian’s quote that nobody remembers says it all: The ability to take data — to be able to understand it, to process it, to extract value from it, to visualize it, to communicate it — that’s going to be a hugely important skill in the next decades.Data is indeed the new Intel Inside.

via What is data science? – O’Reilly Radar.

Data science democratized

Interesting post. I always wondered how people might use all the scatter diagrams and other data visualization graphs that are available in various scientific fields. Here’s a thought from Mac Slocum at O’Reilly radar.

Significant implications emerge when you can bounce a question, even an innocuous one, against a huge storehouse of data. If someone like me can plug questions into a system and have it do the same kind of processing once reserved for a skilled minority, that will inspire me to ask a lot more questions. It’ll inspire a lot of other people to ask questions, too. And some of those questions might even be important.

via Data science democratized – O’Reilly Radar.

The Fourth Paradigm: Data-Intensive Scientific Discovery – Microsoft Research

Very interesting read.  Currently reading the essay – The impact of workflow tools on data-centric research and Text in data-centric world.

In The Fourth Paradigm: Data-Intensive Scientific Discovery, the collection of essays expands on the vision of pioneering computer scientist Jim Gray for a new, fourth paradigm of discovery based on data-intensive science and offers insights into how it can be fully realized.

via The Fourth Paradigm: Data-Intensive Scientific Discovery – Microsoft Research.

All about data

In an earlier post (Researchers need data) I referred to Cameron Neylon’s call to build infrastructure and services that could capture the output of any research, i.e the research data.

Add to that, with Google Wave coming out the playing field appears to have changed – to enhance research collaboration, the publishing process and management of research data. Again Cameron does a wonderful job of thinking through the usage scenarios. First is the process of publishing a paper, and the second scenario is the process of adding an interface to the lab record. Very nice read and in many ways it helps me understand the research workflow process at a high level.

So is this the beginning of the end for traditional publishing houses?

I don’t think so but it does mean that publishers need to adapt to this new reality. If they ignore it then they will go the way of the newspapers. The only option is to acknowledge and accept the changing workflow. The changing workflow is, people searching Google for information, people collaborating on Twitter, FriendFeed, Facebook, etc. People soon relying on workflow tools like Wave for additional collaboration and publishing (and i’m sure there will be competing products that will soon arrive).

The option for publishinig houses are to either build their own competing solution OR integrate with existing online tools. My bets are on the former, especially for large publishing houses. Regardless, the question is how much are you going to open up your interface to the rest of the world. What tools are you going to provide your users to be more productive. The traditional model of offering a search engine one top of a repository of documents is not going to cut it. It is really important to understand how your users use the information you have and how they apply it to their workspace.

Recent technology trends will bode well for customers. I have a feeeling this is only the beginning for lots more exciting new things to come.