The Pritchard Lab at Stanford is beta testing a new tool to help you sort through the tsunami of publications coming at you, SciReader. Registration is easy enough, and I just imported my library from PubChase, which does something very similar. Right now the recommendations from SciReader aren’t really relevant, despite the fact that I’ve put in topics, authors, and a rather large PubChase library. So I assume it’s waiting me to “like” more papers. Fair enough. (or there might be a latency in relation to how soon the engine responds)
But one thing that has come to mind is what I use these tools for. If you look at who I follow on Twitter it generally does not go above 300 (I prune inactive/dormant accounts as I add people), and the list is heavily skewed toward those with a disciplinary focus similar to mine (evolutionary genomics, broadly). I’ve noticed that PubChase is usually a day to a week behind Twitter in pointing me to papers of specific interest to me.* So why are these tools even useful? First, it’s a good way to have a personal library that one can use for references. But second, it also points me to papers which are of interest, but somewhat just outside of my core domain of focus. Basically they make sure I don’t get too snug on my optimum adaptive peak, and ignore goings on outside the ghetto.
Update: Jonathan Pritchard leaves a comment, which I think is very clarifying as to why a prominent research lab is developing a tool which seems more up the alley of the private sector:
Thanks for this shout-out!
To clarify about the recommendations, right now we have these running overnight, so you should get recommendations tomorrow. (In the near future we will hopefully provide these within a few minutes, but we need to rewire some code for this.)
I hope that as we develop the site further, SciReader will be a more tunable and more flexible recommendation system than the other current systems. You mentioned Twitter–I agree that this is a great source of papers. We are now scraping Twitter for papers that are being discussed on Twitter. Right now we present this as a separate Twitter summary, and we will also be incorporating this into the recommendations.
One of our long-term goals is to encourage the community to adopt post-publication recommendation and peer-review in a unified platform:
although we have not yet implemented much in that direction. These functions (finding and discussing papers) should really be core activities for all scientists, so I think there’s value in having a variety of tools in this space trying to figure out how to really make this work.
Finally, this is currently a beta release and we very much welcome bug reports and suggestions on how to make this tool more useful.
* Google Scholar now as a recommendation service, and though it’s less frequent in telling me to notice a new paper, they tend to be very laser targeted.