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CABI and Collexis Build a “Knowledge Dashboard” in Agricultural Sciences
Posted On May 5, 2008
Venerable agricultural publisher CABI (, an international not-for-profit organization based in the U.K., has selected Collexis Holdings, Inc. (, a developer of high-definition search and knowledge discovery software since 1999, to build a knowledge discovery application and provide semantic search solutions by instituting a portal site for researchers and publishers in the area of agriculture and the environment.

CABI’s flagship product is the CAB Abstracts database, which has been online with commercial aggregators since 1980 and has been available on its own web platform, CAB Direct, since 2003. CAB International is a multinational organization of contributors from 44 member countries. CAB Abstracts is a highly structured database of information covering the topics of world agriculture; animal and veterinary sciences; environmental sciences; human health, food, and nutrition; leisure and tourism; microbiology and parasitology; and plant sciences, including biotechnology and crop science. The focus of this pilot project with Collexis will be a subset of CAB Abstracts relating to biofuels and bioenergy.

Andrea Powell, CABI’s executive director for publishing, termed the projected Knowledge Dashboard as a "significant leap forward" in CABI’s publishing, in terms of creating added value from CABI’s highly structured and rich data resources and exploring new models for doing business online.

What the Knowledge Dashboard will look like is not yet clear, but the aim is to highlight the depth of information held in CAB Abstracts and enable users to make connections in ways that would have been difficult in the past. One can expect some similarities to the Collexis demo project, BiomedExperts (, the world’s first "pre-populated" and "literature-based" professional social network for science searchers. BiomedExperts (BME), a free site launched in January 2008, contains more than 1.4 million profiles of BME researchers from more than 120 countries—including anyone who has published at least three papers indexed in PubMed over the previous 10 years. Collexis’ proprietary technology builds conceptual profiles of text, called Fingerprints, from documents, websites, emails, and other digitized content and matches them with a comprehensive list of pre-defined "fingerprinted" concepts to make research results more relevant and efficient.

No launch date for the CABI Knowledge Dashboard has been set yet, but they are aiming for a test pilot by autumn and certainly before the end of the year. Collexis has a head start with CABI material, having previously implemented the CAB Thesaurus in a project at Wageningen University, the leading life sciences university in Europe. A basic demo of Wageningen’s project is available at and a snazzy promotional demo of Collexis’ version of a knowledge dashboard at

Separately, Thomson Scientific ( is also bringing its Web of Science data into a collaboration with Collexis (see the NewsBreak at The Thomson Collexis Dashboard enables scientists to analyze large numbers of publications concerning a defined topic swiftly and efficiently, explores existing knowledge concepts, provides proactive suggestions about the direction of research across a topic or by category, and includes multiple thesauri with summarized information reportedly not to be found in any system currently available. It also provides identification of experts across categories on multiple subsets of the literature instantly—including relevant social networks.

In its move to develop an agriculture/environmental science social network of experts and publications, CABI furthers a communication mission that has been growing over the past 10–15 years. "It’s no longer enough just to provide first class information," says Powell. "Knowledge workers want to take that information, integrate it with their own, mine it to come up with new ideas and relationships and use it as a springboard to create further knowledge. So our challenge is to continue to produce and publish the world’s leading secondary database in agriculture and the environment, but also add value to that ‘raw’ data by giving it context, linking it to related content, and turning it into a useful workflow tool. This initiative will help us to take a different look at our data and see what opportunities present themselves."

In recent years, CABI has pursued a strategy of local development and management of its content as well as partnering with outside vendors. Its ebooks are available from all major vendors—MyiLibrary, Dawson Books, NetLibrary, ebrary, and Ebook Library (EBL)—as well as on its own platform (see the NewsBreak at One can also find CABI books in the Google Book Search program. In an application created in-house, CABI led a consortium to develop and maintain the R4D portal ( under contract with the U.K. government’s Department for International Development (DFID).

Also in April, CABI announced that Semantico would build its next-generation CAB Direct, the web platform delivery method for CAB Abstracts. Scheduled for release in early 2009, the second generation software will aim for "seamless content discovery" and "maximum flexibility to re-use … bibliographic databases and discovery services in new ways in the future." For the time being, at least, R4D and version 2 of CAB Direct are completely separate projects from the Collexis collaboration.

Susanne Bjorner provides editorial services to publishers, librarians, authors, and researchers from her base in Spain.

Email Susanne Bjørner

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