RefWorks-COS (www.refworks-cos.com), a business unit of ProQuest (www.proquest.com), serves the research community with a multifeatured, web-based bibliographic database product, RefWorks, and a suite of key information sources on scholarship from the Community of Science (COS). RefGrab-It (www.refworks.com/Refworks/BookMarklet.asp), a tool to capture bibliographic data from webpages, has improved features. The Author Resolver (www.authorresolver.com), which taps into the COS Scholarly Universe database with millions of author profiles, has improved links to RefWorks. Users of the subscription or licensed RefWorks-COS products can also now reach free support services on Twitter and Facebook.
In 2008, ProQuest merged the RefWorks service established in 2001 with COS, the Community of Science, founded in 1989. RefWorks pioneered web-based bibliographic database support. According to Tina Long Moir, senior director, business development and marketing for RefWorks-COS, the RefWorks service has about 1,200 subscribing organizations worldwide bringing them a potential 3 million registered users. The primary competition for the service comes from Thomson ResearchSoft, which offers several software-based products-RefViz, Reference Manager, ProCite, and EndNote. These days, EndNote also has a web-based version called EndNote Web, but the company still emphasizes the software service.
Last week, Thomson ResearchSoft announced an upgrade called EndNote X3 that included improved integration with EndNote Web. However, Moir pointed out that this was "not their first step into the web. Three years ago, their WriteNote service completely bombed. Now they have EndNote Web and are getting more serious. They may not have thought there was a real need until we showed the idea had traction." Jeff Baer, vice-president and general manager for RefWorks-COS, pointed out that "success breeds imitators. Things can change and competitors get stronger, but the industry has realized that web-based research management is very important. Also collaboration is a key theme. It's hard to facilitate collaboration with software in a desktop environment."
RefWorks has introduced the author information service underlying Author Resolver. It builds on the COS Scholar Universe's collection of profiles on more than 2.1 million active researchers working in 2,210 universities in 75 countries. The service does not have all the information or features that subscribing to Scholar Universe would offer, but it does allow the disambiguation of authors and background information on current status and location. COS has been expanding its profiles for areas outside North America (e.g., academic institutions in Asia) and also now covers government researchers. Publishers and platforms interested in tapping into the service may check out free options. Individuals interested in checking out names may use a free option on COS' Scholar Universe (www.scholaruniverse.com).
A new version of RefGrab-It lets users add the feature either as a bookmarklet or a browser plug-in for Internet Explorer and Firefox. The enhanced version lets users get more details, see Author Resolver links, use OpenURL links, and export to RefWorks. For RefWorks users at full power, RefGrab-It looks for ISBN numbers, PubMed IDs, DOIs (digital object identifiers), or COinS (ContextObjects in SPAN) and automatically extracts the information to search various web resources for integration into RefWorks databases. It can even locate RSS feeds for the sites. The improved functionality has targeted improving the gathering of information from Amazon, Google Scholar, PubMed, Wikipedia, the BBC, USA TODAY, The New York Times, and the Los Angeles Times. Even non-RefWorks subscribers can use RefGrab-It at no charge for gathering bibliographic links.
RefWorks-COS prides itself on strong customer support, according to Moir and Baer. But they admitted that they were somewhat surprised to find that users had begun setting up their own support services on Twitter and Facebook. Go where the users go seems to be a good policy. So now RefWorks-COS has set up its own discussion areas on Twitter (www.twitter.com/refworks) and Facebook (www.facebook.com/pages/RefWorks/83467832121?ref=mf). Moir says that the "groups that were formed prior to our launch on Facebook are still there. Not sure how much activity they will get in the future now that we have an official ‘Fan' page on Facebook." She cited the example of a University of Iowa user with a Facebook group called RefWorksFacebookAppFunctions at www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=2389549868&ref=ts#/group.php?gid=2389549868&ref=ts. Moir noted, "Many, and I mean many of our RefWorks end-users are on Twitter talking to us or about us. Much of the focus is on help or support issues-even feature suggestions. Forget about the traditional (or dare I say ... old fashioned) ways of support. Not going to happen for those hooked on these social media platform[s]. More and more of our end-users now prefer to do this via Twitter or Facebook." To handle these new avenues of support, RefWorks-COS has set up a small team of social media in-house experts.